‘Special’ Frankel top of the world

FRANKEL has been officially rated 4lb clear of the field as the best racehorse on the planet after the announcement of the World Thoroughbred Rankings.

Henry Cecil’s unbeaten colt, who carried all before him during the season in a five-race streak, was given a rating of 136 to equal that of Sea The Stars in 2009 as the finest since the instigation of the current system in 2004.

Frankel has been considered by Cecil and many experts as the greatest in modern times, although he falls short of the heights achieved in the old classifications by El Gran Senor (138 in 1984) and further from 1986 Arc hero Dancing Brave (141), Alleged and Shergar (both 140).

The figures are collated when the world’s handicappers meet at the end of the year and it was decided the clear second best, on 132, was the celebrated Australian sprinter Black Caviar.

Garry O’Gorman, the senior Irish handicapper, said Frankel can still be considered the equal to those giants of the past.

“You have to go back to El Gran Senor 27 years to find a comparable miler, but it is acknowledged that levels of earlier editions were running at a higher level,” he said.

“Even though El Gran Senor was 138, to be blunt, he should not have been as high as 138.

“I would hate to say Frankel and Sea The Stars would have to improve to be talked about in the same breath as those other horses.”

The British Horseracing Authority’s senior mile handicapper, Dominic Gardiner-Hill, said: “Frankel fulfilled all our hopes and expectations, didn’t he?

“He got a rating of 130 for the Guineas with what I consider one of the most visually stunning performances by a thoroughbred I’ve ever seen. It was not an easy race to put a figure on, but by hook or by crook, we did, and it was the best Guineas performance since Zafonic.

“I was not the only person to feel slightly deflated after the St James’s Palace but after Ascot he produced his best performances in winning the Sussex Stakes and the QEII.

“Although it appeared Canford Cliffs was not at his best in the Sussex, I don’t think there was a person at Goodwood who thought Frankel would not have done that under any circumstances.

“I don’t think you could say with any degree of confidence he wasn’t inferior or superior to Sea The Stars. If it was a handicap, I wouldn’t want to give either weight.”

O’Gorman added: “It’s a classic example of when a rating doesn’t tell the story. He produced the most visually arresting performance in the Guineas, but it’s not his best rating.

“He was palpably better than his rating, but the two horses he beat in the Guineas were no stars.”

Phil Smith, the BHA head of handicapping, said: “To be 4lb clear of the world is special.

“Dancing Brave is the top since 1977 on 141. I don’t believe Dancing Brave would get that now on current handicapping systems, but it’s in the book and that’s what is to aim for.

“Frankel improved from 126 last year to 136, and who’s to say he won’t get better or that the competition might not be stronger. It’s fantastic he has stayed in training.”

Black Caviar, who would actually receive over 4lb in allowances should she meet Frankel in the Southern Hemisphere, but only 3lb above the Equator, was accorded glowing praise.

O’Gorman said: “You have to go back as far as Pebbles and Miesque in the 1980s and arguably she is the best filly or mare we’ve ever seen.

“It took a handicap to show how good she is, as she gave weight to fillies and colts in the Newmarket Handicap and that form worked out well.”

Champion Stakes winner Cirrus des Aigles and German filly Danedream, who was so impressive in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, were rated joint-third on 128 ahead of Canford Cliffs and the late Rewilding (127).

Six of the top 10 were trained in Britain, with Dream Ahead, Excelebration and Nathaniel all rated 126.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox