Tag Archives: Frankel

The Recalibration Stakes (Pattern Race)

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 ………….


Royal Ascot – Day 1

The return of the vanquished-Photo Tony St Ledger-Pattern Racing

Born To Sea travels for The Saint James Palace Stakes (Group 1 ) at Royal Ascot

What a start.

The Queen Anne Stakes, Frankel and most likely his last time at a mile.

He won’t be beaten and naturally it’s to be watched to appreciate and saviour the world’s greatest colt. For the others, Excelebration and Strong Suit it will be the last time these miler’s will see his rear end. There’ll be relief in that especially for the O’Brien colt that in any other generation would have shined having been four times behind him, twice in Group 1’s.

Don’t be tempted to take the 7/2 on offer about the field stopping Frankel.

The King Stand Stakes is a very competitive affair.

Of the principles there is concern about the ground. The connections of Bathed Breath, Sole Power and Ortensia must all have ground concerns as all will have a preference for a quicker surface. The same must apply to the Hong Kong horses Joy And Fun and Little Bridge.

The one’s to have displayed some ability to handle the good to soft will be led by Wizz Kid. Robert Collet’s filly has won the last two renewals of the Prix Du Gros-Chene but didn’t manage to sandwich any wins in between.

Robert Cowell is represented by three Spirit Quartz, Hamish McGonagall and Monsieur Joe. The first will be more fancied than the latter two though they have some form on the ground.

Tangerine Trees is another to come into it on the basis of a Group 1 win in the Prix de D’Labbaye and a prior victory at Beverley in good to soft and must offer each way prospects at 25/1.

The Saint James Palace Stakes won’t top last year when Frankel won but still promises to be a cracker.

Power showed his he was no fan of the soft at Newmarket in the Guineas but bounced back in Ireland on a descent surface. He was a super two year old but he’s worth taking on in the ground.

Born To Sea is tried again after an improved performance at the Curragh where the hood he wore settled him. If they can balance running too free at Newmarket and settling too well then he’s a threat.

On juvenile running in the National Stakes Dragon Pulse has only a 1/2 L to find on the favourite. On his reappearance this year he beat Dabarism in very good style in the Prix De Fontainblue before running a stinker in the Prix D’Essai Des Poulains. It’s a run to forget.

The French Guineas was a messy affair but not half as messy as the Prix Du Jockey Club turned out to be. Talk about overcrowding in the straight, it was lucky that some didn’t come down. Most Improved was one of those most affected and we just might see the talking horse of the spring display what was shown to those who were lucky enough to see him on the gallops.

In The Coventry Stakes Dawn Approach, already favourite for next year’s Guineas, looks an exciting colt in the making. The son of New Approach is unbeaten in three and looked out of the top drawer in the first two. Not as exciting in his last run he nevertheless ground out the win easily enough to get the better of Mister Marc at Naas. He may well justify his place at the top of the Guineas market in his stiffest test to date.


The Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) – No Bet

The King Stand Stakes (Group 1) – Tangerine Trees E/W 25/1

The Saint James Palace Stakes – Most Improved E/W 8/1

The Coventry Stakes (Group 2) – Dawn Approach Win 4/1

The JLT Lockinge Stakes Stakes (Group 1)


Champions Day


Too fast, the season goes.

Champions Day ends the show, one last performance before the circus packs up to leave town. QIPCO, the new ringmaster, and what a good job they did, made a £13m investment in the British Champion Series featuring 35 Pattern races.

It began on Guineas Day and now we’ve reached the bookend, the last £3m comes up for grabs. It’s the big bang as opposed to previous years whimpers, 5 Pattern Races, the Long Distance Cup, Sprint Stakes, Fillies and Mares, The QE11 Mile and finally the Champion Stakes.

You heard the one about the horse who beat the train?

Don’t be such a clown you thought. Horses don’t beat trains. Yeah, we had our clown all right, the big entertainer on which every circus depends.


The 1m 37.3s he took to run the mile at Newmarket was slow by 1.8s. Oh, how the clock lies. No account taken of the way he blew away his rivals, the psychological damage done in the first 5 F where he literally ran them off their feet. Faster than Lochsong they say.


Sectioned, the clock underneath the saddle cloth.

Faster or slower than Lochsong, who cares, the eye didn’t lie at Newmarket or later at Ascot. It didn’t lie at Goodwood either where Canford Cliffs got the best view of his enormous posterior, a distant 5 L view. It’s hard to see on his return to the Ascot mile what will be different. No disrespect to the seven who bravely oppose but their running for place money. Frankel was the clown all right. He’ll leave the ring to rapturous applause.

Tension will rise as the tightrope comes under spotlight. Expect to hear the drum roll as they load the gates in the Champion Stakes. It’s a cracking field, not far off the Arc.


It will matter, not in the sense of the clock but in the sense of the season.

Many of these have been on the go throughout and may not have enough left for one last crack of the whip. Pity, it won’t come from Richard Hughes. Those timed for an autumn campaign, kept fresh, there the ones to think of. So You Think? I hear you say. There’s no doubt his Arc run was very good and had the draw been kinder, well we’ll never know. It’s only two weeks since Paris and this may just be too soon for him having been on the go since early May.

In front of him at Lonchamp was Snow Fairy overturning the Irish Champion Stakes run. Her season as expected is improving with every run. The ground will be good but not her favoured fast. Another good show will have her plum ripe for eastern promise on quick surfaces that will be tailor made.

Green Destiny is going the right way. A lack of experience at this level means a huge step up while Ransom Note and Sir Putra are depending on the rest running below par. The 5 year old Cirrus Des Aigles must hold the title of best gelding in the world. 1/4 L defeats to Sarafina and Goldikova and last time out a neck to Byword testify to his well being. Twice Over, his confidence rebuilt a second time by Sir Henry try’s to win it for the third successive time. His early season form is behind him and his International success over Midday was well ground out.

Nathaniel can’t be faulted. The King George winner had to miss the Arc because of the fast ground. He is unlucky in having to meet good conditions at this stage of the year. If only it was soft. The well travelled Wigmore Hall returns from Canada where he took the Northern Dancer rattling off a quick Woodbine track. If only it was fast.

Casamento, most damaged by Frankel, is back on the recovery road. A Group 3 at Lonchamp in September was well timed. Then there’s the return of a Prince. The policy shift of Godolphin in housing two year olds in Ireland paid rich dividends with Casamento winning the Racing Post Trophy last year.

A year on and payback may come again. This fella pressed all the right buttons at Rosewell House and an ultra smooth Killavullan Stakes win last October confirmed the vibe. Policy dictated the transfer as a three year old to Mahood Al Zarooni where patience has been the key. He was reintroduced at Newbury in September over 9 F and clearly the eye was firmly based here. Kept fresh, the son of Shamardal unbeaten in three will love the ground.


The healer. The tragedy of Rewilding and now fresh hope for a new Prince in the affections of Dubai.

In the high wire act it’s got to be Frankie for the triple somersault dismount.

Daddy, when will the circus come back? Next year son, next year.
So son, who was your favourite? Oh, daddy, I liked the clown best.