Living by numbers
Trempolino won the 1987 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe ahead of Reference Point, Mtoto, Triptych, and subsequent Arc victor Tony Bin. Hawk Wing won a Lockinge by eleven lengths. Mark Of Esteem and Celtic Swing were very good racehorses. What do these four have in common? They are all, according to Timeform, better horses than Enable. But as ever this is not the whole truth.
The top three horses on Timeform’s all time list are Frankel, Sea Bird, and Brigadier Gerard. I am fine with that, although I would have Frankel in third.
Those three all had more than one excellent run. They won multiple top class races. Just like Enable. Her top rating is 134 which she attained when winning her first Arc. But she has now won ten races in a row, eight of them at Group One level. Two Arcs, a King George, two Oaks, and a Breeders Cup race. And, with the form she is in, a second King George and a third Arc are definitely possible.
But where does she rank on the list of all time great racehorses?
I used to play Sunday League football, and after the match we would go to the pub and, after dissecting the game, we would talk about football in particular and sport in general. I miss that. I loved the fact that we had different opinions regarding players, teams, and horses and jockeys.
There was a discussion regarding equine greats on Twitter recently. My old football manager, Les, said that he was at the Derby in 1965 and saw Sea Bird win. He said that his memory from that day was the fact that Pat Glennon never moved a muscle on the horse. I watched it on YouTube (again) and the jockey was, indeed, as still as a statue.
His Arc win was even more impressive. Sea Bird was just too good. Just like Frankel was. Just like the Brigadier. And just as Enable is now.
So why is she so far down the list of the greats? If she wins a third Arc beating the same horses she has already beaten, plus maybe a few of this year’s three year olds (who look a bit of a muchness at the moment) how does that raise her to greatness? To me she is already a great but the figures say she is inferior to Cracksman and Winx.
The former has run two brilliant races on soft ground while Winx has stayed close to home. Enable has won on eleven different racecourses in four different countries.
Enable won the Eclipse over a distance short of her best (in my opinion) and on her first run of the season. She is so good at the end of her twelve furlong races that she would probably have won the St Leger two years ago.
Going back to the debate. Harbinger won the King George by eleven lengths in 2010. He is rated the equal of Dancing Brave, a horse who won one of the best Arcs in living memory. He was also a 2000 Guineas winner and a very close Derby runner up.
Harbinger may well have gone on to become even better but injury retired him. But on what we know do we really think he is as good as Dancing Brave?
We love fast finishes
It can be visual as well. Had Sea The Stars won by more than two lengths in any race would this brilliant colt be given more respect in some quarters? We do love our fast finishers who fly past in the final furlong.
Another horse who was a serial winner was High Chaparral. Dual Derby winner, two Breeders Cup wins and victory in that fantastic Irish Champion Stakes. Yet he is down the list too.
I think we should keep debating this and I think fans should stand up and fight for their favourites. You think Frankel was beating carthorses? That’s fine. You think horses like Pour Moi and Zilzal would have got even better at four? So do I. But as we will never know then it is only opinion. It is ALL opinion except when they run against each other.
Triptych was a very good mare who rarely ran a bad race. She was beaten by Dancing Brave and Mtoto. That means the form is solid.
Excelebration won three Group Ones and was second in four more. Behind Frankel. That is good form
Ulysses, Cloth Of Stars, Sea Of Class, Crystal Ocean, Magical. All beaten by Enable. You can only beat what is in front of you but the fact she keeps beating them tells me she is something special.
Another thing that I noticed is that the top rated horses usually run between a mile and a mile and a half. The stayers and sprinters are usually rated a few pounds lower. Dayjur and Lochsong were very quick while Yeats and Stradivarius were kings of their particular castle. Another anomaly is that Too Darn Hot was given a Racing Post Rating of 125 for his Dewhurst win. That is just four pound lower than Enable’s best.
While on Sea Of Class I am sure we were all sad to hear that the Arc runner up had suffered a severe bout of colic. She will never run again but the main thing now is that she recovers from this life threatening condition. William Haggas said yesterday that if she were a person her condition would be described as critical but stable.
We have our fingers crossed.