Top accolade for Frankel as Dancing Brave downgraded

Frankel has been hailed a “benchmark of equine excellence” after officially being crowned the highest-rated horse in history by the group of international handicappers who compile the World Thoroughbred Rankings.

Sir Henry Cecil’s colt, now retired to stud following a brilliant career which included an electrifying win at York last August, was awarded a final mark of 140 after signing off his racing career unbeaten in 14 starts.

There was some controversy – 1986 Arc winner Dancing Brave, who previously held the record with a record of 141, saw his career reassessed and downgraded to a handicap mark of 138.

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Given that the late Guy Harwood-trained champion retired more than 25 years ago, it is rather ironic that Dancing Brave should see his mark lowered.

However, one person unperturbed was Prince Khalid Abdullah – the man lucky enough to own both all-time greats. His racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe, the chairman of York racecourse, said: “Prince Khalid is going to be very happy to have the two best horses of recent history.

“I don’t have a great understanding about handicapping, but I have no doubt in thinking Frankel proved it (his greatness) again and again.

“He has set new standards by which others will be judged. Frankel is going to start covering mares next month.”

However handicappers have conceded the techniques to create the rankings these days are different to those in the past, meaning many horses from the 1970s and 1980s have elevated figures compared with what they would achieve today.

Taking that into account, they have adjusted the historical figures and Frankel now sits at the head of the all-time ratings list.

A statement read: “An outstanding racehorse, it is fair to say in the circumstances that he constitutes a new benchmark for equine excellence on the racecourse.”

The recalibration of the historical ratings also impact upon the mark awarded to 1981 Derby winner Shergar, who has been dropped 4lb.

He is now on 136, along with 1991 Derby hero Generous (dropped 1lb) and six-times Group One-winner Sea The Stars, who has been left unchanged.

Poignantly, it was reported yesterday that Generous, the champion three-year-old of 1991, had died at the age of 25.

The Paul Cole-trained colt took his three-year-old campaign by storm, winning the Epsom Derby by five lengths, the Irish Derby by three lengths and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes by seven lengths.

He stood at Alfred Buller’s Scarvagh House Stud in Northern Ireland for over eight years.

Owned by Prince Fahad Salman, the son of Caerleon was ridden to his three major three-year-old victories by Alan Munro, but the partnership ended in defeat in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe that October.

Meanwhile weather is playing havoc with the fixture list.

Today’s meeting at Newcastle is off and tomorrow’s card at Market Rasen has already been abandoned.

Newbury’s fixture this afternoon must pass an early morning inspection at the same time as officials at Ludlow determine prospects for tomorrow.

In the meantime, frost covers have been deployed at Haydock in an attempt to save Saturday’s high-profile card that includes the Peter Marsh Chase and Champion Hurdle Trial.

The latter see Donald McCain’s Peddlers Cross, runner-up in the 2011 Champion Hurdle, switch back to the smaller obstacles after a mixed campaign over fences last season following a 10-month lay-off.

Nicky Henderson intends to saddle his top Cheltenham prospect Grandouet while the John Quinn-trained Countrywide Flame, so impressive when winning the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle before finishing a weary fourth in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, may try to get his Champion prospects back on track.

Joe Tizzard has lost no faith in Cue Card despite him failing to stay the three miles of the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

A drop back in trip is certain for the seven-year-old, trained by the jump jockey’s father Colin after he finished fifth behind Long Run on Boxing Day.

The two-mile-five-furlong Ryanair Chase, for which he is a general 6-1 chance, is the most likely target at the Cheltenham Festival, although Tizzard junior has not ruled out the Queen Mother Champion Chase over two miles should the ground be soft.

“He had a hard race at Kempton like they all did. It rode a decent race, a real test of stamina and he’s come out of it fine,” said the jockey.

“He’ll have a run at the beginning of February. There are no plans as such yet, but he’ll have a run then and go straight to Cheltenham.”