1. Farhh (Timeform rating 131)
The Goldophin-owned Farhh took a most unusual route to the top with a rather staggered start to his career. He only raced twice in his first two seasons of racing, but he won both times in impressive fashion, recording a six-length success on his only two-year-old outing in a maiden at Newmarket, and then scoring at 12/1 in a 0-95 handicap having been off over a year between starts. When he finally made his third race, a further seven months later, it came at the unlikely setting of Thirsk, where he destroyed a field of experienced handicappers in the Thirsk Hunt Cup.
For the remainder of that four-year-old campaign, Farhh was able to stand his racing well and acquitted himself admirably in the face of what was to prove some remarkably stiff tests. Having narrowly gone down to Nathaniel in the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse, Farhh had the misfortune to bump into Frankel in both the Sussex Stakes and the Juddmonte International before missing out close home to Moonlight Cloud in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp on his final outing.
Farhh did ultimately end his run of Group 1 seconds on his five-year-old reappearance in the Lockinge at Newbury, beating outsider Sovereign Debt by a wide margin. While the strength of that particular Group 1 was called into question at the time, Farhh’s next and final success well and truly confirmed he was as a top-class performer, beating Cirrus des Aigles and Ruler of The World in a pulsating finish to the Champion Stakes at Ascot later in the year. Saeed bin Suroor
2. Kyllachy (129)
Now known as a top sire himself, Kyllachy started his legendary career with victory in a maiden at Chepstow in 2000. From that first day it was clear Kyllachy was blessed with great speed, and he raced exclusively over five furlongs throughout his short racing career.
A five-length success in handicap company on his three-year-old reappearance first suggested that Kyllachy was something out of the ordinary and, though he failed to win again that season, he never finished outside of the frame, a record which he kept up for his whole career.
It was when he teamed up with Jamie Spencer at the beginning of his four-year-old campaign that the Henry Candy-trained speedster really began to flourish, and the pair ended up winning four of five starts that year. He started out in a handicap but he took the step into Group company in his stride with the Palace House at Newmarket and the Temple Stakes at Sandown proving part of an early-season hat-trick. On the back of that run, he arrived at Royal Ascot a warm order for the King’s Stand but didn’t get the best of runs and had to settle for third.
That in itself had been some rise through the ranks but, on his next and final outing, the sprinter reached the Group 1 summit with success in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, beating Malhub to confirm himself as the top sprinter in Europe at the time. An injury in that race curtailed his season and the decision was then taken to send him to stud where he has gone on to prove a successful sire. Henry Candy
3. Addeybb (Timeform rating 125)
Already gelded before his belated debut at the age of three, William Haggas had licence to then campaign Addeybb with longevity and is doing just that with the strong son of Pivotal still thriving in training at the age of six. Climbing the handicap ranks, it was on his four-year-old reappearance in the Lincoln that Addeybb produced his first real show-stopping moment when relishing the heavy ground to beat the smart Lord Glitters with plenty in hand.
From then on it was clear he was destined for a much higher level and a very smart performance saw him record Group 2 success in the Mile at Sandown on his very next outing. It was clear by now that Addeybb had the asset of being especially well suited by testing ground and those conditions enabled him to produce his best effort to date on British soil when running Magical close in the 2019 Group 1 Champion Stakes at Ascot.
With that big effort under his belt, his astute trainer plotted a route to Group 1 success through a trip to Australia in the early months of 2020. Faced with his beloved soft ground, Addeybb teamed up to great effect with Tom Marquand to scoop a pair of Group 1 races, namely the Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick. William Haggas
3= African Story (128)
Starting out in France for trainer Andre Fabre, African Story didn’t make his debut until towards the end of his three-year-old season. He then won minor events at Saint-Cloud and Deauville within his first three starts, the latter success coming on all-weather, which would ultimately be a sign of things to come.
Kept largely to turf in 2011, African Story was able to show smart form in Group company without ever getting his head in front. However, during the winter he switched to the stable of Saeed bin Suroor and immediately showed marked improvement on his first start on the synthetic surface at Meydan.
African Story quickly established himself as a high-class all-weather performer with a couple more victories that spring, including a four-length romp in the Godolphin Mile. Having then not proved so effective back on turf in the Champions Mile at Sha Tin, African Story was campaigned solely at Meydan for the remainder of his career with Group 1 success twice coming his way, including a fine display when winning the 2014 Dubai World Cup, beating the classy Mukhadram by two and a half lengths. Saeed bin Suroor
5. Immortal Verse (126)
Immortal Verse enjoyed a purple patch during the summer of her three-year-old campaign, earning her a spot on this list, but things didn’t go so smoothly beforehand or afterwards. Having won only one of her first three starts, the Robert Collet-trained filly let herself down at Newmarket when refusing to load for the 1000 Guineas and she failed to land much of a blow in the French equivalent just a couple of weeks later.
Fortunately for connections she got her career quickly back on track with Group 2 success at Chantilly and, just 12 days later, fared much better on her next trip to England when winning the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot by two and a quarter lengths from fellow French raider Nova Hawk. That was a substandard renewal of the Coronation Stakes, but Immortal Verse took little time in confirming herself a high-class performer, completing the hat-trick by showing an excellent turn of foot to beat Goldikova in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville in August. After that burst of wins, she managed a creditable third-placed finish to Frankel in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, but she never hit the same heights again during a brief four-year-old season. Robert Collet
5= Somnus (126)
Having reportedly been a nervous sort at home and not easy to train, Somnus was gelded before his racing career began. However, that didn’t stop him making great strides as a two-year-old sprinter once he’d got the hang of things. Showing promise amidst greenness when only fifth on debut, Somnus won his next four starts, making hay in two valuable sales races to ensure he finished the year as the leading two-year-old money earner of 2002.
The following year Somnus proved competitive at a higher level through the first half of the campaign, showing smart form to narrowly win in listed company in July, but a lot better was to come. On his first start in a Group 1, Tim Easterby’s charge lowered the colours of Oasis Dream and Airwave to win the Haydock Sprint Cup, very much appreciating the cut in the ground and taking his career earnings past £400,000. He peaked at a similar stage the following season, finishing a good short-head second to Tante Rose in the same race in between Group 1 victories in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville and Prix de la Foret at Longchamp
Somnus was kept in training for another four years without hitting those lofty heights again but is one of the most fondly remembered sprinters of his time. Tim Easterby
7. Brando (125)
The Kevin Ryan-trained Brando could be described as something of a slow burner given he was unable to win any of his five starts as a juvenile. While he did record a couple of successes in maiden/handicap company as a three-year-old, he only made the track three times that year and, as such, was still unexposed going into his four-year-old campaign.
Having recorded a wide-margin success on reappearance, Brando went from strength to strength in the face of some very competitive handicaps, hitting the post in the Wokingham before registering victory at Sandown and notably in the Ayr Gold Cup. Such was the style of that success, Brando was fast-tracked to Group 1 company and came third to The Tin Man in the Sprint on Champions Day at Ascot. The following year, 2017, Brando make the breakthrough at Group level with success in the Group 3 Abernant Stakes at Newmarket, a race he would also make his own in 2018, and struck at the very top level by beating Aclaim in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. Since then he has continued to prove competitive in the most competitive sprints. Kevin Ryan
7= Lightning Spear (125)
A winner on debut at Kempton for Ralph Beckett, Lightning Spear wasn’t then seen for over a year and switched trainers to Olly Stevens during his absence. Once reappearing, Lightning Spear completed a hat-trick to prove himself too good for handicap company and acquitted himself well in Group races through the second half of 2015.
It wasn’t until his five-year-old campaign, however, that, now with David Simcock, he made up into a very smart performer with a third to Tepin in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot coming before victory in the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood in August. On his final start that year he finished third to Minding in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, leaving the impression that Group 1 success should eventually come his way.
It took a couple more years but, as a seven-year-old, Lightning Spear did indeed strike at Group 1 level by beating Expert Eye in a steadily-run Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. David Simcock
7= Sariska (125)
A rare high-class performer to possess a squiggle, Sariska ended her career in disgrace having twice refused to race as a four-year-old. Her earlier days, however, showed her to be a filly of immense ability and, having been unlucky not to win a Group 3 on her reappearance at three, Sariska took the Musidora and both the Oaks and Irish Oaks to complete a memorable hat-trick.
Going into her four-year-old campaign, the Michael Bell-trained mare looked to be an exciting horse to follow and confirmed that impression with a victory in the Middleton Stakes on her reappearance at York before finishing second to Fame And Glory in the Coronation Cup at Epsom. Unfortunately, that would be the last time Sariska would complete a race as she lost her love for the game and took no interest in leaving the stalls in two subsequent outings before being retired. Michael Bell
7= Excellent Art (125)
Excellent Art enjoyed a short but ultimately high-class career, winning three times as a juvenile for Neville Callaghan, showing smart form in winning the Mill Reef on his final outing before being purchased by Coolmore Stud and sent to the yard of Aidan O’Brien.
As with all Coolmore’s costly purchases, the sole aim for Excellent Art was to achieve Group 1 victory during his classic year and, after a desperately unlucky fourth in the French 2000 Guineas, he duly achieved that feat with a narrow win over stablemate Duke of Marmalade in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Following that success, Excellent Art finished runner-up three times in a row at the top level and was retired to stud at the end of his three-year-old season. Aidan O'Brien
7= Eagle Top (125)
The least prolific name on the list, Eagle Top only won twice from his 11 starts, one of those being a maiden on debut at the age of three, but he quickly made up into a very smart performer by winning the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot on just his third outing, beating Adelaide by three and a quarter lengths.
Although he never won again, he did record an excellent nose second to Postponed in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2015, which was a career-best performance. John Gosden
7= Avilius (125)
Twice a winner for Andre Fabre in France as a three-year-old, Avilius really took his form to the next level once transferring to Godolphin’s Australian stable under the care of James Cummings and, having been gelded, really flourished during 2019 when winning three times at the highest level, including beating Eminent by two and a quarter lengths in the Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill. James Cummings