Frankel crowned master of the turf
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.
By Tom Peacock
While now widely acknowledged as the greatest of all time, Henry Cecil’s colt would not even have beaten the previous marker had Dancing Brave’s 141 in 1986 not been reduced by three to 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.
Abdullah’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe said: “Prince Khalid is going to be very happy to have the two best horses of recent history.
“I don’t have a great understanding about handicapping, but I have no doubt in thinking Frankel proved it (his greatness) again and again.
“He has set new standards by which others will be judged.
“Frankel is going to start covering mares next month and he seems to be looking forward to it.”
Members of the BHA team outlined their pronouncements along with the senior Irish handicapper, Garry O’Gorman, who said: “What can be said about Frankel that has not been said already?
“He is the first horse since 1977 to be champion at two, three and four.
“Six times he ran at a rating higher than 135.
“I think you have to go back to the days of Mill Reef and Brigadier Gerard to find a horse with a comparable profile, so he is the new benchmark for equine excellence.
“You couldn’t say a three-year-old had a better career than Sea The Stars, but, from a pure ratings criteria, you need to be staying in training and be giving the weight away at four that you were receiving at three.
“In Frankel’s case, this went a long way to helping him achieve his position in the very highest echelons.”
As the rankings were unveiled in London yesterday, members of the committee had to answer accusations of rewriting history with their recalibrations 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.
“I produced the initial paper, which was then discussed with the other handicappers.”
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.
“It’s very difficult to stage manage (a race to achieve a rating), but as Garry said, Frankel is now the benchmark for equine excellence.”
Third on 130 was the Australian folk heroine Black Caviar, as well as Excelebration, who was beaten countless times by Frankel but again emerged a Group One winner himself.
O’Gorman said: “Black Caviar is the female Frankel in terms of her statistics since 1977.
“In achieving her rating of 132 last year, she shares the rating with Three Troikas, the great French mare of the late 70s.”
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