Timeform on Frankel: 'No horse in our 66 years would have beaten him'
The 2012 Flat season, all about Frankel and Black Caviar, is memorialised in Timeform's latest Racehorses annual
There's a famous TV clip about Arkle in his pomp in which an Irishman responds to the question: "Tell me what the conversation is like in the evenings here in the pubs," with: "It's only Arkle, Arkle, Arkle, Arkle. Arkle that's all. Arkle the whole way." Sprinter Sacre may get even closer at Aintree next week, but in the same way that steeplechasers are surely likely to stumble on the way to challenge Arkle's supremacy over jumps, it is unlikely any horse, for a generation at least, will challenge Frankel's similar dominance on the Flat.
That is reflected in Timeform's newly published Racehorses of 2012 annual. Interestingly, the respected ratings organisation state that their highest-of-all-time rating of 147 could have been awarded to Frankel "after his first win [of the season] in the Lockinge Stakes [at Newbury]". They took a "slightly cautious view of the form" as it was so early in the season and it wasn't until his breathtaking win at Royal Ascot that he was anointed "greatest-ever".
The Henry Cecil-trained runner's victory, only challenged in visual terms during his career by his 2,000 Guineas demolition the previous year, earned this description: "Frankel's superiority over his contemporaries was never better exemplified than by his victory in the Queen Anne Stakes. No horse in Timeform's 66-year experience would have beaten him that day."
"Many of the current generation of British racegoers will be lucky to see another as good," state Timeform, who tackle the colt's critics, too, in the opening of their essay with the comment: "If there were modern cynics who did not stand quite so much in awe of Frankel's achievements as they were expected to, it was perhaps because the racing world is a more exciting place than it was in Sea-Bird's and Brigadier Gerard's day and today's champions have the chance to prove themselves on the global stage."
Their conclusion holds no truck with such a view: "Did it really matter that Frankel never ran at a mile and a half, or that he never raced abroad, or on any surface other than turf? It is necessary to go back to the 19th century, when Ormonde won 16 out of 16, to find an undefeated champion on the Flat in Britain who retired with such an extraordinary record. In terms purely of the quality of his performances, the measure used by this annual to compare horses, Frankel had nothing left to prove. He was a phenomenon for the racing world to wonder at."
Tony Paley, The Guardian
29 March 2013