The International Federation have taken the plunge and have revised the level of the ratings in the international classifications and world thoroughbreds ranking from when they started in 1977 to now.
Why you may ask?
Was it to simply put Frankel on top of the perch?
Or was it finally to address the over exuberance of figures in the early years of the first classifications. Lets be fair and say it was the latter rather than the former though the revision did have the effect of fulfilling the first agenda.
The loser in all this is Dancing Brave reduced 3 lbs to a mark of 138, now considered 2 lbs inferior to Frankel’s 140.
In the overall context the revision has been a benefit. The purpose of any rating system is to remove the wheat from the chaff. In the early years of the classification too many horses were rated too highly (due primarily to handicapper’s working to a norm of 100 and then handicapping up from there) thus systemically rating horses up to the norm rather than down.
The revisionism tightens the bands essentially reducing the mark attained in 1977 by 7 lbs and then on a sliding scale by a 1 lb in 1991. No changes occur then until 2004 where a 1 lb increase reflects the now considered harshness of the handicapper’s view that particular year.
The effect is, under the old regime 22 horses were rated 135 or above, under the new system this is reduced to 13. That’s a good thing wheat and chaff separated. Is there individual casualties?
1986 lost 3 lbs in the revisionist world thus knocking Dancing Brave off the perch in favour of Frankel. Both colts were owned by Khalid Abdullah and the abilities they brought to the track differed greatly.
Dancing Brave ran 10 times winning 8, the losses were the Derby and Breeders Cup Turf. The wins at Group 1 level were the Guineas, Eclipse, King George and Arc. Spectacular, in 1986 beyond that. The loss in the Derby will be forever remembered, beaten by Shahrastani he came from the clouds with the line coming too soon clocking reputedly 10.8 sec in the penultimate furlong.
Frankel won 14 races , 10 of them group 1’s. He was champion at two, three and four. He pulverized his opposition in all those encounters whether breaking from the gate in that unforgettable Guineas or when held up and unleashed in the Juddmonte International in the last 2 f.
But he never did what Dancing Brave did. He never went beyond 10 f. Could he have produced that turn of foot over a mile and a half? He certainly could over a mile clocking 10.58 sec in the Queen Anne in the sixth furlong and in the Juddmonte over 10 f he clocked 11.05 in the eighth furlong but could you see him do it over 12 f? Connections couldn’t, they never tried. Why? Because they couldn’t see it.
Ratings serve the purpose of drawings the generations together. There not an exact science but while the revisionism is welcomed and not overdue we must recognise the casualties of war.
Reducing Dancing Brave to inferiority in comparison to Frankel is the unjust casuality. By definition putting a figure beside an animal says one would beat the other.
Who would your back in the Eclipse Frankel or Dancing Brave? In the battle to the line you would see it a nose to Frankel but in the Arc two furlongs out we all know it would be Dancing Brave.
In the mind of the owner is it Frankel or Dancing Brave?
The problem with this recalibration is the benchmark for equine excellence is set by a horse who never raced beyond 10 f.
That presents a difficulty.
The Guineas and Derby winner Camelot is accessed at 124 lbs and thus seen as a failure for not having won the triple crown. If a pacemaker had been run at Doncaster would we have seen an emphatic victory for the Ballydoyle inmate. If so would his rating have skied into the 130’s?
Lets say Camelot’s potential is unlocked this year by Aidan O’Brien. Let’s say he wins the Dubai World Cup, the Coronation Cup, the King George, the Irish Champion Stakes, the Arc and Breeders Cup Classic. Six Group 1’s three over 12 f and three over 10 f including Tapeta,Turf and Dirt. (No pressure then Aidan)Will that not surpass the achievements of Frankel by 1, 2 or even 3 lbs?
Will we run the Recalibration Stakes again next year?
And the result is ………….