Outstanding Frankel crowned equine best
RACING: Thoroughbred rankingsThe normally rather dry number crunching of the World Thoroughbred Rankings had emotions running higher than normal yesterday when Frankel was officially rated the finest racehorse seen in Europe in modern times.
But it wasn’t the confirmed 140 rating that Henry Cecil’s recently-retired unbeaten superstar was left on that raised eyebrows but the reduction in some old ratings, particularly the demotion of the previously 141-rated Dancing Brave, up to yesterday the highest mark given out in the classification’s 35-year history.
The decision to retrospectively drop the 1986 Guineas, Arc and King George champion 3lbs to a mark of 138 created bemusement in some quarters but was defended by the international handicappers, including Ireland’s Garry O’Gorman, co-chairman of the World Rankings Supervisory Committee.
An official consensus that figures in the early years of the classifications were too generous in some cases has led to a recalibration of some of the famous names in racing history.
Other adjusted historical ratings include Peintre Celebre on 137 and the 1991 double Derby champion Generous, whose death was announced yesterday, is now on 136 alongside Shergar and Sea The Stars.
The double Arc winner Alleged has been dropped from 140 to 134. Another legendary Vincent O’Brien-trained horse, El Gran Senor, has been recalibrated 3lbs lower to 135.
One trainer, Brendan Powell, reacted thus: “I’ve had horses dropped in the handicap for standing in the box. But to drop Dancing Brave after 27 years off? Amazing.”
It was the emergence of Frankel, particularly during his stellar three- and four-year-old career in 2011 and 2012, that brought the issue to a head and there is official unanimity now that he is the highest rated horse of modern times.
“From a European perspective, while eight horses have been champion racehorse at both two and three years of age since the international classifications commenced in 1977, Frankel this year became the first horse to be officially a champion (or joint-champion) at two, three and four years of age during that period,” reported the World Thoroughbred Rankings
“An outstanding racehorse, it is fair to say in the circumstances that he constitutes a new benchmark for equine excellence on the racecourse,” a statement added.
Although debate about where Frankel ranks among the pantheon of turf greats is hardly likely to be ended by this announcement, it does reflect his clear superiority over his contemporaries.
Cirrus Des Aigles, runner-up to the English superstar in his final start in the QEII last October, is next best in the 2012 ratings on 131.
The top divisional standings provided good news for Irish racing with Jim Bolger’s classic favourite Dawn Approach rated the top two-year-old in Europe last year on a mark of 124, ahead of Aidan O’Brien’s Racing Post Trophy winner Kingsbarns.
The last two-year-old champion to secure a higher rating than Dawn Approach, who wound up an unbeaten season in the Dewhurst Stakes, was the ex-Bolger trained New Approach on 126.
O’Brien’s triple-classic winner Camelot is rated the best of a mediocre three-year-old crop in Europe off a mark of 124.