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Racing: Handicap rethink gives Frankel best-ever rating

Sir Henry Cecil: Trained legend. Picture: Getty

Sir Henry Cecil: Trained legend. Picture: Getty

  • by PETER ALLISON
 

FRANKEL was finally granted the ultimate position in the recent history of Flat racing as the World Thoroughbred Rankings announced him as the highest-rated horse since their system began in 1977 with a mark of 140.

While now widely acknowledged as the greatest of all time, Sir Henry Cecil’s colt would not even have beaten the previous marker had Dancing Brave’s 141 in 1986 not been reduced to 138. However, the group of handicappers across Europe who comprise the ranking committee have long voiced their concern that methods have evolved over the last 35 years, and that some horses have ended up with figures which are slightly too high. These were applied to a statistical method devised by British Horseracing Authority chief handicapper Phil Smith.

Cirrus Des Aigles, the French star Frankel beat hands-down in the Qipco Champion Stakes, was rated second-best of 2012 on 131. Frankel commences his stud career on a position 2lb clear of Dancing Brave, who was also owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, with Peintre Celebre third in the all-time list on 137, then Generous, Sea The Stars and Shergar on 136.

Dancing Brave’s trainer Guy Harwood said the decision to reduce his horse’s rating was “absurd”. He told Sky Sports News Radio: “Both [Dancing Brave and Frankel] are the best horses of their decade and it should be left at that.

“Trying to compare one great horse to another great horse is not a clever thing to do. I think it’s absurd.”

As the rankings were unveiled in London yesterday, members of the committee had to answer accusations of rewriting history in order to prove the massively-popular Frankel was officially the best.

Smith said: “We started thinking about it four years ago with Sea The Stars. We’ve talked about it, and we grasped the nettle. We should have done it years ago.”

Smith had his own view about Frankel’s achievements and said: “I believe he is potentially better than 140, but, due to the circumstances of the race, that’s what we can get him to.”

Third on 130 was the Australian folk heroine Black Caviar, as well as Excelebration, who was beaten several times by Frankel but again emerged a Group One winner himself.

As Frankel’s greatness was celebrated, another legend of the turf Generous, the champion three-year-old of 1991, was mourned yesterday after it was announced he had died at 25.

The Paul Cole-trained colt took his three-year-old campaign by storm, winning the Epsom Derby by five lengths, the Irish Derby by three lengths and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes by seven lengths. He stood at Alfred Buller’s Scarvagh House Stud in Northern Ireland for over eight years.

Owned by Prince Fahad Salman, the son of Caerleon was ridden to his three major three-year-old victories by Alan Munro but the partnership ended in defeat in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe that October. Munro said: “I’m very saddened by the news.

“He was a very good horse.”

SELECTIONS

Kempton

4.15 Delightful Sleep

4.45 Hierarch

5.15 California English

5.45 Divine Rule

6.15 Epic Storm

6.45 Al Gharrafa

7.15 Pobs Trophy

Lingfield

12.30 La Estrella

1.00 Liliana

1.30 Blue Deer

2.05 Mistral Wind

2.35 Rose Ransom

3.10 Roy’s Legacy

3.40 Baby Dottie

Newbury

12.50 Seventh Sign

1.20 Ohio Gold

1.55 Imperial Leader

2.25 Loch Ba

3.00 Violin Davis

3.30 Vendredi Trois

4.00 Chapoturgeon (nap)

Double

Chapoturgeon

4;00 Newbury

Hierarch

4:45 Kempton

 

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