Tuesday 21 November 2017

No argument -- Frankel is the greatest

Wayne Bailey

THE late Bobby Frankel, one of the greatest American thoroughbred trainers of all time, was a master handicapper in his youth and his in-depth knowledge of the formbook enabled him to make a fairly lucrative income from betting before he took out his first training licence in 1966.

Forty-six years later, the modern-day handicappers at Timeform have recognised the horse named after Bobby Frankel as the greatest Flat runner of all time.

Royal Ascot 2012 has been memorable for a number of reasons, but Frankel's victory in the Queen Anne on Tuesday makes it historic.

Until now, no horse has ever earned a Timeform rating as high as 147.

A bloke I drink with down the local, in his 70s, claims he was there to witness Sea Bird win the Derby in 1965 (even though his wife tells me he's never been to England in his life) and for the past couple of years, we've argued over which horse is the best.

squabble

It's a futile squabble really as it's nigh impossible to compare horses from different eras, but after Tuesday's win, even this staunch defender of Sea Bird has conceded that Frankel is probably the greatest of all time.

As racing fans, we should enjoy this while it lasts as it could be a while before we see his likes again. We have to go back to the 1960s to see any horses rated near this high -- Seabird was rated 145 and Brigadier Gerard was rated 144.

It's astonishing to think the best might be yet to come from Frankel and the step up to a mile and a quarter in the Juddmonte International or maybe the Eclipse will not prove troublesome.

I think I'll make a special effort and travel over to see him race this season, so that in years to come, I can sit on a barstool and (truthfully) tell the youngsters that I saw the greatest horse of all time in the flesh.

Not only have we seen what is officially the best horse in the world at Ascot this week, the second-best horse will run today in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (3.45) and it's no surprise to see the wonder-mare Black Caviar trade as low as 2/7 in the betting. She's unbeaten in 21 starts, but I'm sure my editor wouldn't be too pleased if I was tipping horses priced as low as that so for something a little bigger, consider backing Sea Moon around 11/4 in the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes (3.05 Ascot).

With six victories in this race, trainer Michael Stoute knows the sort it takes to win and the four-year-old certainly matches that profile.

Sea Moon had a cracking season as a three-year-old, winning the Great Voltigeur Stakes among other races, and his return to the winners' enclosure at Goodwood in May proved that he hasn't lost his will to win.

EACH-WAY outsider

A large field of 29 will go to post for today's Wokingham Stakes Handicap (4.25 Ascot) so it's definitely a tricky one from a betting point of view.

One that catches the eye is the Andrew Balding-trained Desert Law, generally available at 12/1. He was back to near his best when second of 20 runners at Epsom last time, but the handicapper's mark of 97 still leaves room for improvement.

TODAY'S SELECTIONS

3.05 Ascot: Sea Moon

4.25 Ascot: Desert Law (e/w)

7.35 Lingfield: Standing Strong

Irish Independent

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