Frankel may still be worth backing at 1/6 to win the Juddmonte International at York as a second of his chief rivals is on the brink of boycotting the race.
Given that it represents Frankel’s first attempt at seeing out 1m2f, all eyes will be peeled on whether Frankel suffers a first career defeat on what will be his 13th start.
With the middle-distance ranks full of classier opposition compared to the sprinters Frankel has been taking on previously, this was widely believed to be his toughest assignment to date.
However, the defection of both Cirrus Des Aigles and Nathaniel has made his task substantially easier.
Cirrus Des Aigles beat So You Think at Ascot over 10f last year in the Champion Stakes, but has not fully recovered from a leg injury.
Nathaniel has already won the Coral-Eclipse this year and has the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as his chief goal for the season.
Trainer John Gosden believes that the Irish Champion Stakes will provide a better preparation for this so unless the weather goes sour at Leopardstown, this is his most likely destination.
Frankel cannot be blamed for this depleting lack of competition and the onus now almost falls on St Nicholas Abbey and Dubai World Cup winner Monterosso to attempt to lay down a challenge.
St Nicholas Abbey is one of seven horses still entered from the Aidan O’Brien yard and even if the field continues to diminish, he still believes the York affair can offer excitement.
He said: “It’ll be a spectacle, whatever happens. Frankel is a superstar and lots of people in the north will want to see him in what might very well be his second-last race.
“It’s not unusual for a high-quality race to have a small field and one of the most exciting races I can remember was the Juddmonte International in 2009, when Sea The Stars beat Mastercraftsman by a length. There were only four runners.”
But another Frankel rout looks on the cards.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.