SIR Henry Cecil hopes to cap a memorable racing year by landing tomorrow’s season-ending Betfred November Handicap with First Mohican.
On the day that the iconic and recently retired Frankel left Cecil’s stables to begin his new career at stud, First Mohican was installed as 5-1 favourite for the Town Moor finale where the Flat champions of 2012 will be celebrated.
He is owned by Henry Ponsonby whose Betchworth Kid was second in this race in 2008 and again in 2010.
The Tobougg gelding returned from a near two-year-old lay-off last month to score at both Redcar and Nottingham, having won his only previous race at Yarmouth in October 2010.
“He’s a definite runner and very much on course for the race,” said Ponsonby. “Sir Henry is delighted with his preparation. He won’t mind the soft ground and the general opinion is there will be a big improvement for the step up in trip.
“His dam is a half-sister to Untold and Sally Brown, who both won the Yorkshire Oaks. Both were placed in the Oaks and the St Leger. I think he’s got a great chance.”
First Mohican would be an incredibly popular winner as Cecil continues to battle cancer.
His battle has been inspired by the turf exploits of Frankel, who made the short journey yesterday to his birthplace at the nearby Banstead Manor Stud where he will take up stallion duties.
“There is no doubt Frankel has been a brilliant racehorse. I am pretty certain that there has never been a better or more talented thoroughbred,” said Cecil.
“He had the speed to be a champion sprinter and then, once he grew up and settled, he got a distance with a turn of foot that makes champions.
“(Yesterday was) a sad day in some ways for us as he has given us so much pleasure over the last three years. But I want to thank Frankel for so much – for being such a very special part of my training career. Thank you, Frankel.”
The son of Galileo left the racing scene with an unbeaten record of 14, his victory in the Juddmonte International at York followed by a sublime triumph in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot last month.
The champion thoroughbred received an equally warm welcome at Banstead Manor from the Juddmonte team, including general manager Philip Mitchell.
Mitchell said: “In the foaling unit on February 11th 2008 at 11.40pm, little did we realise that we were witnessing the birth of a phenomenal racehorse. It is now extremely exciting that Frankel will be returning to the Stallion Unit at Banstead, some 500 yards from where he was born.”
Potential mares include the Australian speedster Black Caviar and Midday, who spent her racing days at the Cecil stable.