Inflated mark leaves Horn reaching for the Stars
Golden Horn's exploits in Saturday's Eclipse Stakes have received the official stamp of approval after the British handicapper rated him on a par with Frankel at similar stages in their careers.
However, while the Derby hero's rating of 130 is equal to that achieved by the sensational 2011 2,000 Guineas victor following his Newmarket demolition, it is still shy of the 133 that the mighty John Oxx-trained Sea The Stars was awarded in the wake of his triumph in the 2009 edition of the famous Sandown Group One.
Sea The Stars, a son of Golden Horn's sire Cape Cross, won both the Guineas and Derby during his sensational three-year-old campaign.
Following his Eclipse success, he plundered the Juddmonte International at York and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, before he departed unbowed at the end of his stellar 2009 tour de force with a brilliant Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe swansong at Longchamp under Mick Kinane.
Sea The Stars' final mark of 136 was the highest achieved by any horse since the three-year-old Peintre Celebre had earned a rating of 137 12 years earlier, though the assessors lamented not being able to award Oxx's colt an even loftier mark on the basis that he only ever tended to do enough to win.
Frankel, generally quite the opposite in that sense, was rated the very same at the end of his Classic campaign, before eventually signing off on 140 at the end of 2012 with his glorious 14-race unbeaten record intact.
That left Henry Cecil's relentless force of nature the highest rated Flat horse since international classifications began in 1977, a controversial eventuality given that, in an unprecedented move, the incumbent handicappers took it upon themselves to retrospectively downgrade Dancing Brave's 1986 figure of 141 to 138, likewise that of Alleged from 140 to 134.
While there isn't nearly so much furore over the decision to rank Golden Horn as Frankel's theoretical equal, there is a suggestion that it might be slightly premature, for all that John Gosden's exceptional charge continues to enhance his stock.
Indeed, the British Horseracing Authority's head of handicapping Phil Smith expects his rating to soar in the coming months.
"I would be disappointed if Golden Horn cannot go on and prove himself better than 130 as the season progresses, as he is clearly a fast-improving colt who on Saturday showed his versatility by making the running for the first time," Smith said.
"Life will become harder for Golden Horn as the three-year-old weight-for-age allowance reduces by 2lb per month as the season progresses, but I have little doubt that he will be able to take that in his stride and continue to show that he is equally effective at 10 furlongs and 12 furlongs."
The BHA has also revealed that the Aintree Grand National festival's Top Novices' Hurdle, won last year by Cyrus Darius, will be upgraded from Grade Two to Grade One next year, while the mares' Listed bumper is being promoted to Grade Two status.
On the all-weather at Wolverhampton yesterday, Martin Dwyer and Connor Beasley were involved in a dramatic incident that resulted in Beasley being airlifted to hospital. His mount Cumbrianna clipped heels and fell on the turn for home in a six-furlong handicap, bringing down Bilash.
Cumbrianna was fatally injured, while Beasley received a kick to his head that reportedly left him with a nasty laceration near his ear. He and Bilash's rider Dwyer (left), who was taken away in an ambulance for an X-ray on his arm, were both conscious throughout, and later reports suggested that they had avoided serious injury.
Meanwhile, David Wachman has expressed himself happy with his rapidly progressive Ribblesdale Stakes winner Curvy ahead of her step up to Group One company in the Darley Irish Oaks on July 18. With a new rating of 112, the Galileo filly is rated 40lb higher than when she broke her maiden in a Navan handicap in April.
"Curvy is in good shape," the Tipperary handler confirmed. "We're happy with her and she has come back from Ascot in good form. She's improving all the time, but she needs to improve again to win a Group One. They all level off at some point, but hopefully she hasn't yet."
At Roscommon last night, Barry Geraghty certainly didn't want for fitness when he drove Riviera Sun to victory in the novices' hurdle.
The hard-earned win on Henry De Bromhead's 11/8 favourite constituted Geraghty's first since returning from three months off with a fractured shin on Sunday. It was his first in JP McManus's silks since being appointed as the Limerick native's retained rider.
"That's great - brilliant," the former champion said. "It's nice to ride one for the boss. He's a lovely horse."
Alan Fleming, who returned from a spell in England to saddle four winners last term in his new guise as a private trainer to Barry Connell on the Curragh, matched that tally for the new season last night with a 21.5/1 double.
The 6/4 favourite Deputy Pass won the Martinstown Hurdle for the firm under David Mullins, after French import Adimelo defied odds of 8/1 to impress in the maiden hurdle.
"He was a good bumper horse in France," Connell said of Adimelo, a third track winner for amateur rider John Fitzpatrick.
"He'll head to Galway now, probably for the winners' race on the Tuesday. He was quite gassy so hopefully he'll spit it out and settle better next time."
Mullins later completed a double on his father Tom's Annie Alainn (6/1).