If his career fulfils the promise with which it has started, then future horse racing quizzes may include the question 'who was Frankel's first stakes winner?' The answer is Fair Eva, and she was an impressive winner of the Group 3 Princess Margaret Juddmonte Stakes over six furlongs at Ascot on Saturday.
His remarkable early strike-rate has been drawing rave reviews, but it is, of course, much too early yet to know if the great horse can become even half the stallion his mighty sire is, or grandsire was. What is exciting, though, is that his racing and pedigree profile would suggest that he would be more likely to notch up a string of juvenile winners in the second half of the season than in the first, and yet we have seen some precocious sorts, and even five-furlong speed.
Fair Eva was the first of the Juddmonte Farm-bred Frankels to reach the track and she made a four-length winning debut over six furlongs at Haydock in early June. The white-faced chestnut is trained by Roger Charlton, her pattern success was achieved by the same margin, and she is already an ante-post market leader for next year's Group 1 1000 Guineas.
Before then, races such as the Group 2 Sky Bet Lowther Stakes, the Group 2 Debutante Stakes and/or the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes could be on her agenda – she holds entries in each of those prestigious events – and if she is still a prominent classic prospect by the end of the year, then the issue of her potential stamina limitations is a debate that may play out over the winter.
Frankel (by Galileo) was bred to be effective from a mile to 12 furlongs, his most breathtaking performances came over the shorter distance, and he was never asked to go beyond the extended 10 furlongs of the Juddmonte International Stakes. There was no need to try farther, and his exuberant personality made the Derby distance a potential problem early in his career, but there is no reason to suggest that, as a four-year-old, it would have been beyond him.
The three 12-furlong blacktype wins of his full-brother Noble Mission featured the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, their three-parts brother Bullet Train (by Sadler's Wells) got his sole pattern success in the 11 and a half-furlong Group 3 Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield, and their Group 3 Lancashire Oaks-winning grandam, Rainbow Lake (by Rainbow Quest), produced Powerscourt (by Sadler's Wells), Riposte (by Dansili) and Last Train (by Rail Link), each of whom stayed the distance, or more.
Noble Mission and Bullet Train, who stand in the US, look likely to specialise in milers and middle-distance horses, but Frankel could get his best over a wider range, from sprinters and upwards, and if they include the plethora of pattern and Group 1 stars that we hope will emerge, then an ability to get everything from precocious juveniles to middle-distance and staying older horses will boost his prospects of taking high rank in the sires' championship title races of the future.
His dam is the stakes-winning sprinter Kind (by Danehill), whose five-furlong ability clearly came from her sire rather than from the distaff side of her family. We cannot know if it was she or Galileo (by Sadler's Wells) who passed on the speed influence to their great son, but if Frankel passes on that pace to his offspring then those who are out of speed-bred mares could include include some sprinters. If it is his stamina influence that is transmitted, however, then those same mares could get mile to 10 furlong horses by him.
This is part of what makes Fair Eva, and Frankel's pattern-placed dual five-furlong scorer Queen Kindly, intriguing; both are out of sprinters yet come from families with a proven history of getting middle-distance horses.
Fair Eva is the fourth foal out the Group 1 Sprint Cup heroine African Rose, a daughter of the excellent miler Observatory (by Distant View). The mare was runner-up in the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest, and she finished third in the one-mile Group 3 Prix d'Aumale as a juvenile, the latter a performance that offers hope of her rising star staying that far too.
African Rose's son Hakka (by Dansili) won twice over eight and a half furlongs at Wolverhampton, was placed over 10 furlongs, and rated 94 before his export to Saudi Arabia. Her full-sister Helleborine was also effective at a mile, winning the Group 3 Prix d'Aumale by five lengths and chasing home Misty For Me in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac.
New Orchid, the grandam of Fair Eva, was third in the Group 3 Lancashire Oaks, a distance not unexpected of a daughter of Derby hero Quest For Fame (by Rainbow Quest), and in addition to being a half-sister to the dam of the Group 2 Prix Chaudenay winner Canticum (by Cacique), her siblings include the juvenile star Distant Music (by Distant View).
That horse and African Rose are closely related, and although his wins in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes, Group 2 Champagne Stakes and Group 2 International Stakes may be what first come to mind about him, it should not be forgotten that he chased home Kalanisi and Montjeu in the Group 1 Champion Stakes at Newmarket, with Oaks heroine Love Divine the one who followed him across the line in fourth.
His dam, Musicanti (by Nijinsky), is out of the dual US winner Populi (by Star Envoy), and that makes her a half-sister to 1985's US champion older male Vanlandingham (by Cox's Ridge), winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Washington DC International, Suburban Handicap and Stephen Foster Handicap – all Grade 1. Her siblings also include the dam of the Group 1-placed mile and 10-furlong Group/Grade 2 scorer Kirkwall (by Selkirk), and as she was out of the three-times winner Sister Shannon (by Etonian), that made her a half-sister to Temperence Hill.
That son of Stop The Music (by Hail To Reason) won 11 of his 31 starts, earned over $1.5 million, was the US champion three-year-old colt of 1980, and got his Grade 1 wins in the Belmont Stakes, Travers Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Suburban Handicap.
With all of this in mind, there is clearly a high degree of probability that Fair Eva will stay the mile. If she can stay farther and can become an Oaks filly then it is more likely, however, to be Chantilly's 10 and a half furlong Prix de Diane that would be within her range than the full 12 furlongs at Epsom or the Curragh.