Monday, 9 January 2012

Timeform's Flat Ratings for 2011

Timeform Racehorses of 2011: Frankel the best for 39 years
2011 was The Year of Frankel in Flat racing terms, a statement that is supported by Timeform's ratings of the leading performers, released today in advance of the publication of Racehorses of 2011 in March...
Frankel's annual rating of 143 is the highest since 1972, the year in which Brigadier Gerard posted 144. Sea-Bird (145 in 1965) and Tudor Minstrel (144 in 1947) are the only other horses to have been rated more highly than Frankel in Timeform's long history.
Frankel is a remarkable 8 lb clear of the next-highest horse, Black Caviar, and 10 lb ahead of the next-highest in the Northern Hemisphere, margins unprecedented in recent times.
The Sir Henry Cecil-trained colt is unbeaten in nine starts, including the Two Thousand Guineas, the Sussex Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in the latest year.
Any of those successes would have qualified Frankel for Horse of The Year status. Timeform rated him 142 after the first of those wins and edged him up to his current figure after the Queen Elizabeth.
The Guineas was Frankel's most breathtaking performance, and it was also the race in which he recorded easily the best timefigure (136) by any horse in the campaign.
Timefigures, which measure performances strictly in terms of the overall race time, tend to lag behind form ratings by a few pounds. Frankel's time performance in the Guineas was the best of the 21st century so far, despite the fact that he slowed after going a long way clear.
The Sussex saw him dismissing leading older miler Canford Cliffs (rated 133) hands down, and the Queen Elizabeth saw him give handsome beatings to fellow three-year-olds Excelebration (133) and Immortal Verse (126).
The Australian-trained mare Black Caviar is unbeaten in 16 starts and posted several 130+ ratings among her eight appearances on home turf in 2011. Her rating of 135 has her behind only Allez France and Habibti (both rated 136, in the 1970s and 1980s respectively) among fillies/mares in Timeform's history.
Talk of Black Caviar and Frankel meeting on the racecourse in 2012 seems speculative - for all that they both stay in training and Black Caviar may travel to Britain - but it should be remembered that Black Caviar would have a sex allowance (thus narrowing the apparent gap between them) if they did.
Leading ratings in Racehorses of 2011
143 Frankel
135 Black Caviar
133 Dream Ahead
133 Excelebration
133 Canford Cliffs
133 Cirrus des Aigles
Black Caviar aside, the sprinters were a decent bunch in 2011, with Dream Aheadleading the way on 133 (as against a five-year average for champion sprinter of 128). That figure was gained in defeating the 129-rated older mare Goldikova narrowly in the seven-furlong Prix de la Foret, but Dream Ahead also took the July Cup and the Sprint Cup at the more conventional sprint distance of six furlongs. He had Bated Breath(125) in second in both those races, but stiffer opposition would have been provided by Deacon Blues (130, and winner of his last five races) and Hoof It (a close third in the Sprint Cup when short of room) at their best. Hoof It (128) put up the handicap performance of the century when winning Goodwood's Stewards' Cup comfortably under 10-00.
It was a case of Frankel first, the rest nowhere, among the milers, though the aforementioned Excelebration had already shown he was a class act with wide-margin victories in the German 2000 Guineas and Hungerford Stakes before Frankel beat him comfortably by four lengths in the Queen Elizabeth. Canford Cliffs was beaten a length further than that by Frankel in the Sussex, veering off a true course late on, but probably ran a bit better when accounting for Goldikova by a length in the Queen Anne previously.
There was no Sea The Stars or Harbinger (both rated 140) in 2011, but the French-trained Cirrus des Aigles lacked nothing in consistency and toughness, winning five of his 11 starts, including the Champion Stakes on the inaugural British Champions Day at Ascot from So You Think (131) and Snow Fairy (128). Danedream's clear-cut win in the Arc earned her a rating of 132 - just 1 lb behind Star Appeal, the only previous German-trained winner of the race (in 1975) - and should be viewed in the context of her being eligible for a sex allowance. Rewilding (132), Workforce (130) and Cape Blanco (128, in the USA) were other notable achievers in what is usually the strongest category.
The staying performance of 2011 came from a horse, in Americain, finishing fourth under top weight in the Melbourne Cup. The French-trained six-year-old's rating of 129 is around par for a leading stayer in the modern era but came in a fairly weak division. The St Leger winner Masked Marvel ran to 126.
If 2012 is to be another vintage year, it could do with help from the up-coming classic generation. The 2011 crop of leading juveniles in Europe was rather substandard, andHarbour Watch is the lowest-rated divisional leader since Bago (also 121) in 2003. The American-trained filly My Miss Aurelia (122) actually has the distinction of being the highest-rated juvenile anywhere in the year under review.


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