Immortal Verse can give Frankel a fright

THE men in white coats may start beating down my door any minute because I genuinely believe that Frankel can be beaten in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, one of the features on Ascot’s QIPCO British Champions Day card.

Regular readers will quickly point out that I thought Henry Cecil’s wonder colt might be beaten at Goodwood, Ascot and Newmarket, but he lines up tomorrow still unbeaten after eight starts. He has been simply devastating this season and his latest victory in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood was jaw-dropping.

Don’t get me wrong, I have never seen a horse like him in my lifetime and it’s more than likely I never will again. However, the very best can be beaten at the end of a long hard season (he has been on the go since April) and he could be sent off the shortest price of his career in a race where arguably he is at his most vulnerable.

Most bookmakers are betting on who will finish second to the machine-like Frankel and cannot separate Excelebration and IMMORTAL VERSE. The former has definitely improved and was mightily impressive when landing the Moulin last time, but beating Frankel is a different kettle of fish.

In fact, my concern is that his connections probably feel they can win and he will be ridden aggressively to try and do so. Serving it up to the best racehorse on the planet two furlongs from home will only result in one winner and, like a replay of the Greenham, Frankel will shrug him off before the furlong pole.

Now, this should all play into the hands of my selection Immortal Verse who is always switched off out the back of the field and delivered late with a blistering turn of foot. Her win against the likes of Goldikova in the Jacques Le Marois isn’t far off the best form on offer and she looks likely to tackle Frankel last of all. He may well have flown by that point, but if he finishes wearily after a battle with Excelebration, like he did on his last trip to Berkshire, he can be caught.

Anyway, as long as the ground doesn’t ride too quick, the French filly is a magnificent each-way bet at 6/1 (1/4 odds 1,2,3) with Paddy Power and I’m also tempted by the 15/8 available about her without Frankel.

The other Group One on the card is the QIPCO Champions Stakes (4.10pm) and all eyes will be on the Aidan O’Brien-trained SO YOU THINK. The New Zealand-bred ex-Australian-trained multiple Group One winning colt was beaten at 4/11 over course and distance at the Royal Meeting by Rewilding, but has since bounced backed to win the Coral Eclipse and Irish Champion Stakes. He was given a brute of a ride in the Arc and arguably could have finished second if he hadn’t covered virtually every blade of Longchamp’s grass.

He showed in the Southern Hemisphere last season that he takes his racing well, so the fact that the Arc was only a few weeks ago doesn’t bother me. He raced six times over there between 28th August and 2nd November, with only a gap of a few days between his win in the Mackinnon Stakes and a third place finish in the Melbourne Cup.

There is no getting away from his quality and even though Nathaniel and Cirrus Des Aigles are both respected, they need rain and So You Think looks cracking value at the freely available 9/4.

I’m at Ascot tomorrow and you can follow me on Twitter @BillEsdaile.


SO where do I start in this heady weekend of top sporting action? Fooball’s big game is undoubtedly Manchester United’s trip to Liverpool. Despite losing the last three battle royales at Anfield, Sir Alex Ferguson has a very good record there with five wins and a draw in the last nine. The Liverpool project is still a work in progress for me so I need to be having a piece of United at 11/8 to take all three points. The home win is 21/10 with the draw 11/5, but with all eyes on Wayne Rooney it’s 25/1 the red mist descends again in a pressure environment and Rooney gets sent off.

I really do think we’re going to have one of those infamous New Zealand chokes on our hands on Sunday and it seems punters are overwhelmingly agreeing with me too (for once!). 65% of the bets so far have been for Australia to defeat the All Blacks at 9/4 and the +7 point handicap is proving even more popular for the Wallabies at EVS. I’m also fancying Wales to defeat Les Bleus in the other semi so a final line-up of Australia-Wales appeals at 5/1.

With so much great sport over the next few days it’s what weekends were invented for. I’ve not even got round to talking about Ascot – but then I wouldn’t be getting any brownie points for telling you Frankel will win!