(Image : Lizampairee/Timeform)
“Frankel is the fourth best horse
since the inception of Timeform”
There was a bit of speculation in the international media, on the publication of the unbeaten miler, Frankel’s Timeform rating, following his commanding triumph in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Gr1) at Ascot. While there are inevitably adjustments to their ratings (usually slightly down) at the year-end, officially, Frankel is rated the fourth best horse since the fabled Phil Bull, first opened his rating agency for business in Halifax 41 years ago. We posted an article in the immediate aftermath of the race, and we quoted the likes of Frankie Dettori, Henry Cecil and Michael Roberts on their estimation that Frankel might be the best horse they’ve known. At 143lbs, Frankel stands a full 8lbs clear of his nearest contemporary, the Australian filly, Black Caviar, who is presently unbeaten on 15 from 15. Only Henry Cecil is qualified to speak about Brigadier Gerard (by that we mean he’s “senior” enough), and even he may have been a little on the light side to talk about Tudor Minstrel. All of them knew Mill Reef, as well as that great miler El Gran Senor, (the brother to our own Northern Guest, a legend of his own kind).
For what it’s worth, these are the ratings :
Sea Bird II
Sea The Stars
El Gran Senor
Cirrus Des Aigles
So You Think
What is evident from our own casual observations, is that Phil Bull was a generous man, and was prone to be a little more liberal in his assessment of horses in the early days. This would’ve impacted positively on the ratings of Tudor Minstrel, Brigadier Gerard and Mill Reef, whilst what is an apparently more stringent approach these days, will have had a slightly negative weighting on the treatment of Frankel. The other thing is, as with all other sporting codes, modern day competition and heightened training techniques across a broader spectrum of conditioners, makes it more difficult for a horse to stand out these days, and so what was an apparently outstanding performer twenty or thirty years ago, might not have been quite the same stand-out in today’s milieu.
These debates are, of course, part of the delight of the game, and for as long as we draw breath, there’ll be betting among the horsemen of old and those of the new era, as to who was king of the roost. In America, they still argue, many years after the passing of both of them, about the relative merits of Secretariat and Man o’ War, and in South Africa, the betting is still open on Sea Cottage, Hawaii, Colorado King, Mowgli and Horse Chestnut. Our point about standing out is best illustrated in the fact that, of the South African contingent, there are more from the past than there are from the present.