The history of horse racing is packed to the rafters with famous, highly regarded thoroughbreds, all remarkable in their own right, and comparing one with another, especially from different eras, is a subjective and futile exercise. However, just for fun, here are the top three racehorses that I have been fortunate to witness ‘in the flesh’ during my lifetime.
Sea The Stars
Awarded a Timeform Annual Rating of ‘just’ 140, Sea The Stars was beaten on his racecourse debut in a maiden, over 7 furlongs, at the Curragh, but thereafter embarked on an unbeaten run of eight, including six consecutive Group One races during his three-year-old campaign. Owned by Christopher Tsui and trained by John Oxx, he completed the 2,000 Guineas – Derby double, before dropping back in distance to win the Coral-Eclipse, the Juddmonte International Stakes and the Irish Champion Stakes, and rounding off his career with an impressive win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, back over a mile and a half. He was described by Ian Balding, trainer of Mill Reef, as ‘a perfect specimen’.
Owned by Prince Khalid Abdulla and trained by Guy Harwood, Dancing Brave was beaten just twice in his ten-race career, once when the victim of an ill-judged ride by the late Greville Starkey in the Derby and once when suffering an eye injury during the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita Park. His eight career victories included the 2,000 Guineas, the Coral-Eclipse, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
The ‘daddy of them all’, unbeaten in 14 races and awarded a Timeform Annual Rating of 147, the highest achieved by any horse since the publication of the first ‘Racehorses’ annual in 1948. Owned, like Dancing Brave, by Prince Khalid Abdulla, and trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil, Frankel won ten Group One races between 7 furlongs and 1 mile 2½ furlongs, including a 6-length win in the 2,000 Guineas.