Racing: Celebre earns place among greats

Peintre Celebre's victory in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe yesterday earned him the mantle of world champion racehorse of 1997. The French colt tops the International Classifications with a rating of 137, the joint second highest since their introduction.

Peintre Celebre is rated the equal of Generous, the European champion of 1991. Of recent Arc winners only Dancing Brave, who achieved 141 in 1986, has been rated superior and among earlier winners only Alleged in 1978 might be considered his equal.

Nigel Gray, the British Horseracing Board handicapper, explained how Peintre Celebre achieved his rating of 137. He said: "Pilsudski was tremendously consistent. He frequently ran to 128. If you look at the Arc and the other horses they all fit. There are lots of lines of form which suggest Pilsudski ran to 128 in that race."

Peintre Celebre remains in training this year as a four-year-old under his trainer Andre Fabre, who for the second year running has more horses in the Classifications than anyone else.

He also trains the champion two-year-old in Xaar, who becomes the 10th Dewhurst Stakes winner in the last 20 years to top the juvenile ratings. The 2000 Guineas favourite's final mark of 127, 2lb higher than his sire Zafonic achieved in 1992, places him among an elite band of nine horses to be rated above 126.

Matthew Tester, the two-year-old handicapper, explained how he arrived at Xaar's rating after the Dewhurst Stakes. He said: "Xaar, in beating a horse rated 115, Tamarisk, comes out at 127. Allowing 2lb for a length over seven furlongs it would be possible to rate him higher but it's not a straight line equation. You are dealing with a horse not yet at full maturity. In any other handicap I'd be unlikely to call seven lengths more than 12lb for a two-year-old."

In the older horse division, Michael Stoute is dominant with the Japan Cup winner Pilsudski (134) edging out his stablemate Singspiel (132). Pilsudski, who won the Eclipse as well as the Champion Stakes in Ireland and England, ran to a rating of 124 or over on seven of his eight starts last year. He has shown 8lb improvement from four to five years, and 40lb since he was three. Singspiel's campaign included three Group One successes and his victory in the Dubai World Cup ranked him second only to America's Gentlemen on dirt.

The Cheveley Park winner Embassy became the trainer David Loder's second champion two-year-old filly on 118, Compton Place, Elnadim and Royal Applause share the sprinting honours on 121 and the Breeders' Cup winner Spinning World took the mile championship with 126.

The Melbourne Cup winner Might And Power finished leading stayer on 124. Classic Cliche (121) is top European stayer.