Top five flat racing moments of 2012: Frankels Royal Ascot romp leads the way
There was plenty to enjoy during the 2012 flat racing season and it is tough to know where to begin when reviewing the campaign. There were so many highlights and it is a difficult job to get it down to a top-five moments, although any review can only really start in one place and that it is with the magnificent Frankel.....
1. Frankel wins the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot
Well, where do you start? Unbeaten in 14 starts, including victory in the Lockinge Stakes and Queen Anne to start his 2012 campaign, followed by a successful defence when 1/20 favourite in the Sussex Stakes and a seven-length romp with trainer Sir Henry Cecil at his side in the Juddmonte International at York. It is the stuff of fairytales and the exceptional colt rounded off his career by proving his class in any conditions when winning the Champion Stakes on the most testing ground he has ever experienced before being retired to stud.
Of those five wins during 2012 it is his 11-length romp at Royal Ascot that stands above the rest. It has been described as one of the great performances as Frankel came up against quality horses like Excelebration and Strong Suit at Royal Ascot. He blew them out of the water though as he justified 1/10 odds on favouritism and positioned himself firmly among the pantheon of greats in flat racing.
2. Black Caviar wins the Diamond Jubilee
The 2012 Royal Ascot meeting was a very special time for horse racing as race goers got the opportunity to see the great Frankel and the much-vaunted Australian wonder mare Black Caviar. Few could remember a time when a foreign horse had garnered as much interest as Black Caviar and she didn't disappoint when making her first appearance outside of Australia,
Trainer Peter Moody left nothing to chance as Black Caviar wore a specially designed compression suit for the flight from Australia to England, although her jockey Luke Nolen nearly put a spanner in the works. Nolen began to ease up to early after the mare had dominated but she managed to see off Moonlight Cloud by a head in the end and in doing so she extended her winning run to an astonishing 22 races.
3. Camelot wins the Epsom Derby
Aidan O'Brien's Camelot caught the imagination by winning the 2,000 Guineas by a neck before landing the Epsom Derby. The colt romped to a five-length win to justify 8/13 favouritism with the bookies and it opened up the tantalising prospect of a crack at the Triple Crown. The Derby win alone was worthy of a place in the top-five for opening up the possibility of a run in the St Leger.
Camelot duly took up his engagement at Doncaster but fell short of becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Nijinsky in 1970 as he lost by ¾ length to Encke. A subsequent seventh in the Arc has raised questions about how good Camelot really is, although we will always have memories of that Derby win and O'Brien maintains he is the best horse he has ever trained.
4. Homecoming Queen wins the 1,000 Guineas
It is another from O'Brien's yard that caught the eye in 2012, albeit all too briefly. Homecoming Queen had gone in to the 1,000 Guineas as an outside chance at 25/1 and she was originally put in the race as a pacemaker for her more fancied stablemate Maybe. However, Homecoming Queen had ideas of her own as she cruised to a nine-length win to produce a real shock. The win looks to have been a fluke as she was defeated in her next two outings before being retired but she will forever be remembered for her stunning Guineas win.
5. Dawn Approach wins the Dewhurst Stakes
Dawn Approach is one of the most exciting 2-year-old colts around and was recently named as the best juvenile of 2012. It wouldn't be a surprise to be talking about Dawn Approach in the top-five moments of next year but it is his heroics during 2012 that have earned him a spot this time.
Jim Bolger's colt has won all six of his career starts, including the Group Two Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, but it was his success in the Dewhurst at Newmarket which really caught the eye. He went off a 3/10 favourite in his final start of the season in October and he edged out Olympic Glory by ¾ length to hand Bolger a fifth Dewhurst winner. The victory ensured Dawn Approach's place as one of the leading fancies for the 2013 Classics, including the 2,000 Guineas.
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