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Frankyfourfingers has left us with his battling legacy

22/02/2018
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He did not have limbs that host digits but F r a n k y f o u r f i n g e r s was a special horse through and through and showed his class throughout his career until he faded like a “soldier” in the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile on January 26. His trainer Salem bin Ghadayer was distraught after Frankyfourfingers fell catastrophically while heading the field in the Group 3 contest. The field of seven was halfway in trip with Frankyfourfingers comfortably at the helm of affairs under rider Royston Ffrench, who suffered multiple fractures and is currently wheelchair bound as he continues to recover from the nasty fall. Frankyfourfingers’ injuries were said to be so severe after an assessment that euthanising him seemed to be the right way forward.

The horse may have gone but the legend remains. Frankyfourfingers was not just about a name. Well he definitely had one of the most catchy monikers and I must admit that having covered a UAE racing season in its entirety for the first time ever last term, it was Frankyfourfingers that really caught my attention. He was a horse that I had heard a lot about and really hoped to see. Of course a lot of the hype had been built up from memories of watching the character of ‘Franky Four Fingers’ played by Benicio Del Toro in the crimethriller ‘Snatch’. And so the colt by Sunday Break out of Texaloula on 18 March, 2010, came to be known. Bred by Scea Des Prairies, Frankyfourfingers was bought by Ahmed Mouknass, who owned him singly as well as in partnership with other entities.

In all, Frankyfourfingers’ ownership changed hands four times before Mouknass and Ecurie Pandora Racing decided to sell him to Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Dubai Crown Prince, who brought him to join his growing ranks at Fazza Racing. Frankyfourfingers aka ‘Franky’ thrived under Salem bin Ghadayer’s tutelage at Fazza Racing and became an instant hit with racegoers in Dubai just as he had done when schooled by the Spanish trainer Christian Delcher-Sanchez before coming to the Emirates. Frankyfourfingers was a picture of consistency during his French career but conditions races were the most he could win and placings were the only thing he achieved whenever competing in Listed contests.

He shed his maiden status on his second run in a Conditions run over 2000m at Chantilly under Stephane Pasquier on 30 June 2013. He won another conditions race later that year this time under Francois-Xavier Bertras, who won the 2017 Al Quoz Sprint aboard the Didier Guillemin-schooled The Right Man. He had two more wins in conditions events before he was put on a flight bound for Dubai arriving here in the first week of January 2015 and in time for the Dubai World Cup Carnival. He made a big impression in the UAE on his debut when running well to finish second behind Surfer in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 on 8 January. Little under a month later, he stepped up to win Round 2 of the same race, this time beating Prince Bishop by a head. That may have been one of the most defining moments of his career as in beating Prince Bishop, he had not only defeated the eventual winner of the $10m Dubai World Cup but also a horse belonging to his owner Sheikh Hamdan.

Frankyfourfingers had developed into a consistent miler and placed in two other runs in 2015. After nearly 9 months off he returned for the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1, on 7 January 2016, but was beaten comprehensively, finishing 11th behind Le Bernardin. An even longer absence followed due to injuries and his next race turned out to be the Listed Dubai Creek Mile on 15 December 2016 where again he placed 10th among 12 winners in a race won by Fitzgerald. He was beaten for a second-straight time in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 by Le Bernardin and then placed second behind stablemate Heavy Metal in a handicap on a Dubai World Cup Carnival Card on 26 January 2017 as regular rider Mickael Barzalona traded places with Ffrench.

He was rested thereafter and arrived to make a gallant return this term when he landed the Jebel Ali Mile Prep, a rated conditions event under Ffrench. Barzalona took the reins when he annihilated the field to win the Longines Conquest Classic by nine and quarter lengths on the second night of this year’s Carnival. Frankyfourfingers was the favourite going into the ill-fated Jebel Ali Mile and he justified his billing by heading the field before he fell fatally in the line of battle, as his proud trainer puts it. Salem bin Ghadayer feels Frankyfourfingers would have never wanted to bow out any other way and said: “Frankyfourfingers was a special horse and he gave us some of really terrific performances early on in his career.

He stood out from the rest with his charisma on the track and in the stables. “It’s never easy to lose a horse like Frankyfourfingers, but our consolation is we lost him as a soldier on the battlefield and not in the stables. He gave us another season with two important wins before he died.” Frankyfourfingers is gone, but his legend is sure to live on.

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10 May 2018
Issue Number: Issue 644
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