Posted by Tania Kindersley.
As one of the Dear Readers so astutely diagnosed, there was a massive post-racing crash. I was incapable of anything other than drinking the restorative claret which the Beloved Cousin cracked open. (I am in her house for a day and two nights before I go back to Scotland tomorrow.)
There is so much to say about the great Australian mare, and I want to do her justice, and my brain is not yet back to full order, so I'll write about her on the train home, when I have seven lovely leisurely hours to get the right adjectives in the right order. And she does need adjectives.
In the meantime, some very quick thoughts. There is a big fuss about the jockey and the level of the performance and the tight finish. I say: nothing that happened yesterday diminished her brilliance one iota. She was on a strange track, in a strange country, in a strange hemisphere. I hate piling on jockeys; their lives are shatteringly hard, and they are the first to get the blame when something goes wrong. Poor Luke Nolen did make a mistake; he immediately admitted it, very bravely and publicly, I thought.
Almost all great horses get beat. That is what is so extraordinary about Frankel, or, his nearest equivalent over obstacles, Big Buck's, who is currently on seventeen consecutive victories. Dancing Brave, still officially the best horse since ratings began, lost the Derby. Nijinsky was done by the narrowest of margins in the Arc. People blamed Greville Starkey and Lester Piggott bitterly for those defeats.
Quite apart from keeping them sound, a trainer has to face the mystery of the thoroughbred. There are days when they do not run their race, and no one knows why. There are days when horses which have so far been ordinary suddenly find something extraordinary. The miracle of the really great ones is consistency, but they are not machines. The reason some people call Frankel a freak, even though I rather hate that description, is that it is freakish to be at the crest and peak of brilliance every time he hits a racetrack. Yet even he had a scare at Ascot last year, when people argue Tom Queally hit the front too soon and the mighty machine almost got caught close home.
Yesterday was not a parade. The lovely mare did not destroy her field. Her jockey did make an error, when he dropped his hands too early. I think she was feeling the effects of her long journey and the strangeness of everything. Yet she still won. She looked like she won on fumes. I think she does not know how to lose and that heart and instinct and greatness of spirit carried her over the line.
And in some ways that is even more marvellous, even more thrilling, and even more touching than an imperial display of excellence. Yesterday, she showed that she was not only talented, but that she was brave and tough. I love her for it.