Frankel officially best of modern era as handicappers devalue Brave

 

Rewriting the record books was supposed to be Frankel's job. Now that he has retired, however, that work has been continued on his behalf by those officials charged with measuring his merit against champions of the past. Today a panel of international handicappers duly saluted Frankel as "the new benchmark of equine excellence" – but only after downgrading the previous one.

The unbeaten champion heads the 2012 World Thoroughbred Rankings on a rating of 140. But concern over the standards applied in earlier classifications has prompted their "recalibration" to achieve statistical consistency with those published over the last two decades. As a result, Dancing Brave has shed 3lb from the pinnacle of 141 he achieved in 1986 – enabling Frankel to leapfrog him as officially the best thoroughbred of the modern era.

The owner of Dancing Brave will certainly not object. For it was Prince Khaled Abdullah who also raced Frankel, and his stud is now promoting a stallion whose first book of mares was oversubscribed even at a fee of £125,000. Whether posterity will consider the changes too convenient, or calculated, is another matter.

It is not as if these figures ever have any absolute value. The handicappers contrived to raise Frankel's rating from 136, as a three-year-old, by evaluating his astonishing 11-length win in the Queen Anne Stakes as the equivalent of 12 and a half lengths (so presuming this fantastically energetic creature still to be in his comfort zone); and by treating his seven-length success in the Juddmonte International Stakes as worth nine and a quarter lengths. But they protest that the methodology has remained consistent – so that the length and a half by which Dancing Brave won the Arc, for instance, was generously appraised at 7lb.

The first classification, in 1977, exalted 145 horses at 120 or higher; since 1990, no crop has even mustered 40 at that level. Phil Smith, senior handicapper of the British Horseracing Authority, has developed a sliding scale, endorsed by international peers, that trims as many as 7lb off the class of 1977, down to 1lb off the 1991 rankings.

Apart from the usurped Dancing Brave, Alleged plunges from a share of second (with 140) to joint 14th (134); and Shergar (also 140) now slides to joint-fourth (136). El Gran Senor, previously fifth (138), must now settle for joint-seventh (135). Conversely, Sea The Stars finds himself elevated from ninth to joint-fourth. And an unaltered rating of 137 suddenly promotes Peintre Celebre from joint-sixth to third.

Some of the perceived slippage may reflect factors other than handicapping culture. The modern concentration of top-class bloodstock in so few hands, for instance, has had consequences for competition – whether because successful operations keep their best horses apart, or because failing rivals have diluted standards.

But Smith had been uncomfortable, in rating Sea The Stars 136 in 2009, with the constant obligation to attach a caveat to earlier ratings. "It was about time we grasped the nettle," he said. "If you were critical, you would probably say that we should have done it years ago." Garry O'Gorman, Smith's Irish colleague, agreed. "It became imperative, not just to acknowledge the discrepancies, but to remedy them," he said. "Because the elephant in the room wasn't going away."

One melancholy footnote. Generous, though shaved from 137 to 136, actually moves up from joint-sixth to joint-fourth. But he did not enjoy his new status long, the death promptly being reported of the 1991 Derby winner at the age of 25.

The class of 2012

World Thoroughbred Rankings 2012 Frankel (GB) 140; Cirrus Des Aigles (Fr) 131; Black Caviar (Aus) 130; Excelebration (Irl) 130; Wise Dan (US) 129; Orfevre (Japan) 127.

Juvenile Classification (Europe only) Dawn Approach (Jim Bolger) 124; Kingsbarns (Aidan O'Brien) 118; George Vancouver (O'Brien) 117; Leitir Mor (Jim Bolger) 117; Olympic Glory (Richard Hannon) 117; Reckless Abandon (Clive Cox) 117

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

First Avenue (6.15 Kempton) Can follow up his win in this last year, having been in fine form over timber.

Next best

Vitznau (5.45 Kempton) On a laughable mark and suggested he might soon take advantage last time.

One to watch

Mount Benbulben (Gordon Elliott) Looked to be getting his act together over fences when a close second at Naas last weekend.

Where the money's going

Sam Winner is 8-1 from 12-1 with William Hill for the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor