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Another great year in racing comes to an end

Queally and Barzalona served up something special with Frankel and Monterosso

Gulf News

What a fabulous year it has been!

Agreed, we tend to say this every December, but doesn’t it still make you feel good?

I’m sure Mickael Barzalona and Tom Queally will look back on 2012 and say, “Wow, that was some year!”

It was the year in which the 21-year-old Barzalona, a brilliant product of the French jockey school in Gouvieux, landed a plum job with Godolphin and authenticated the stable’s choice by landing the $10 million (Dh36.7 million) Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March aboard Mahmoud Al Zarouni’s Monterosso.

Barzalona, who in 2011 sensationally won the Epsom Derby with Pour Moi, would go on to record one of the biggest shocks of the year in the St Leger at Doncaster in September when partnering Godolphin’s Encke to victory over the previously unbeaten Camelot and thwarting his bid to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1970.

We also watched in amazement and admiration as Queally reeled in five spectacular Group 1 victories aboard Sir Henry Cecil’s unbeaten superstar Frankel.

The winning streak started with the Lockinge at Newbury in May. Ascot’s Queen Anne Stakes in June became the next stage for the pair to strut their stuff.

Goodwood was under Frankel’s spell in August when the son of Galileo delivered another master class in the Sussex Stakes, this time at the expense of Godolphin’s game Farhh, before York’s Juddmonte International Stakes became the next target. Despite being asked to race over an extended mile and a quarter, Frankel had the answers and the winning margin was seven lengths, with Farhh once again feeling the predominance of his conqueror.

Frankel returned to Ascot for his final hurrah in October where he faced the mighty French challenger Cirrus Des Aigles, trained by Corine Barande-Barbe in Chantilly. Ms Barbe, who describes herself as a specialist in fairytales and referred to Frankel as an “extraterrestrial”, was bullish about her horses’ chances in the Champion Stakes over 1800m.

She even went on to say: “Frankel’s never met a horse like Cirrus. If we win I may not be popular but I’d be proud and very happy. I would not be so surprised.”

She was right in the first half of her quote, but entirely wrong in the second part.

Cirrus gave his best and did offer a challenge to Frankel who was off to a sluggish start. But unfortunately Cirrus’ best wasn’t good enough as Frankel made up ground to win by a length and three quarters, the shortest winning margin since June the previous year when he only had three quarters of a length to spare from Zaffony in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Ascot.

Frankel has since retired and is living a life in bliss at stud.

Another year comes to an end.

On this happy note, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year.