As John Gosden raises doubts about his Eclipse winner Nathaniel for the Juddmonte International Stakes at York later this month, it appears more and more that to Frankel may face next to no real opposition.
With Cirrus des Aigles already ruled out of the Group 1 highlight, the best horse in the world may face no more than a canter round on his first start over 10 furlongs.
Nathaniel won the Eclipse on his first start of the season and went down only by the narrowest of margins to Danedream when trying to defend his King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by Betfair) title at Ascot just a fortnight later.
However, having been entered into the Irish Champion Stakes at the second stage, the Leopardstown race could now be favourite.
Gosden told the Guardian that a trip to the Knavesmire remains "an option" but a trip to Ireland was "more likely".
"We'll see how things are and make a decision closer to the time," said Gosden.
"The horse is in good order but I want to see what the weather's doing, that's always important."
He did, however, dismiss the idea that the International came too soon after the King George.
"That's not an issue. By the time the York race comes around, it won't be far off a month (since he last ran)," he said.
With Cirrus Des Aigles also now heading for Ireland, Gosden said he would not be shirking the challenge.
"He's a horse I respect," said the Clarehaven handler.
"But, if I'm happy with the race and conditions, I've never in my life been frightened off by one horse."
One who may take on Frankel, however, is William Haggas' Dancing Rain, absent since picking up an injury in Japan.
"We'll either go there or the Yorkshire Oaks, which is the logical choice," said Haggas.
"If it looked like being a very small field for the International, we might go for it.
"We'd be taking on Frankel, which is a near impossible task, but the owners are very keen to have a go at a mile and a quarter at some stage and the first time (this season) is probably the right time to do it, because she'll be fresh.