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Million pound showdown between Frankel and Black Caviar?

6 Apr 2012

QIPCO have offered to increase the value of the Sussex Stakes which they sponsor at Goodwood on 1 August to a cool million if the two best horses in the world are in the line-up

Could the beautiful Goodwood Racecourse be the scene for the clash of the titans this summer?  Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

QIPCO and Goodwood Racecourse have announced that they are bidding to stage the year’s most eagerly anticipated clash between the two unbeaten stars of international flat racing – Frankel and Black Caviar.

With a total of 28 victories from 28 runs between them, they are officially the two highest rated horses in the world.

In 2011 Frankel established himself as the champion in Europe with a series of scintillating performances in the QIPCO British Champions Series, including victory in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes.

Meanwhile, in an unbeaten run stretching a remarkable 19 races, Black Caviar is the darling of Australian racing who is due to be campaigned in Europe this summer.

The sponsors, QIPCO Holding, have offered to increase the prize money for the QIPCO Sussex Stakes to £1m should both Black Caviar and Frankel line up for the prestigious Group 1 race over a mile (1600 metres) on 1 August. The prize fund is currently £300,000.

Sheikh Fahad Al Thani has been instrumental in the efforts to make this mouth-watering clash happen.

Together with his brothers, Sheikh Fahad oversees the running of QIPCO Holding.

His bloodstock interests include the stallion, Makfi, while through Pearl Bloodstock Sheikh Fahad owns over fifty horses in training, including 2011 Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden.

Mindful of the fact that the QIPCO Sussex Stakes represents arguably the best opportunity for Frankel and Black Caviar to face each other during the forthcoming season, this generous sporting gesture has been offered to stimulate even greater interest in the prospective contest.

Sheikh Fahad said: “In their respective home countries, Frankel and Black Caviar have ignited levels of public interest matched only by true champions of the past.

"The sport is blessed to have two such outstanding horses competing at the same time and consequently we felt it would be remiss not to make every effort to try to bring about the race everyone wants to see.

"The Sussex Stakes is arguably the only realistic chance of the two horses meeting, and we are delighted to make the gesture of increasing the prize fund to £1m as an incentive to the connections of both horses to run at Goodwood.”

With a series of astounding performances between them attracting worldwide acclaim, the opportunity to stage the race in which Frankel and Black Caviar do battle is an extremely exciting prospect for Adam Waterworth, Managing Director of Goodwood Racecourse:

“In 2011, we witnessed the ‘Duel on the Downs’ between Frankel and Canford Cliffs, which generated a huge amount of publicity and was a great success for us and QIPCO.

"A meeting between Frankel and Black Caviar in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes at this year’s Glorious Goodwood Festival would be the international racing event of the year, and we are very grateful to Sheikh Fahad and QIPCO for their commitment which may make it a reality.”

The chances of the clash taking place are realistically only small, with both sets of connections rightly insisting that they would only run in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes if it was in their horse’s best interests.

Frankel is expected to step up to a mile and a quarter in the summer, while Black Caviar’s main targets are the two big QIPCO British Champions Series sprints at Royal Ascot in June and Newmarket in July.

Black Caviar’s trainer, Peter Moody, summed the situation up well when he told Sky Sports News: "It’s a great initiative from the sponsors and it’s certainly something we will consider strongly.

"This mare has raced in races we thought best suited to her through her whole career and the million wouldn’t sway us. If we thought she was in good form and ready to go we would consider it.

"We’ve always thought strongly she would handle 1600 metres, if not 2000, but she is such a hulk of a mare so whether she would cope with the training for that is more of a concern than the race.

"We are fortunate in that we have a lot of big-money contests in Australia that she is eligible to run in and if we did keep her in Britain after Royal Ascot we would miss a lot of those at our spring carnival, so there’s lots to consider.

"I’m probably a bit like Henry Cecil, it doesn’t worry me one way or another (who people think is the best horse), it is just opinion.

"We are very proud of our mare. We don’t have a great need to meet Frankel but don’t read that as us being afraid of him. It would be great for the sport but not detrimental to either horse if it didn’t happen.

"The two races we are looking at for her are the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket. She would have to come through both races really well to consider it (the Sussex Stakes).

"She’s a pleasure to have around the place, she is in great form. She is back in training and getting ready to run in four weeks’ time, she will probably have two prep runs before Royal Ascot."

It is probably long odds against the clash happening, but you never know and just imagine the magnificent sense of expectation if it did…