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Timeform's Greatest Racehorses

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Timeform ratings on the Flat stretch right back to the first Racehorses annual, which came out in 1948, and over jumps to the time of the first jumps Black Books in the early-60s. More recently they have included all the best horses in the world, not just those that have raced in Britain.

Timeform ratings express in terms of pounds the level of form a horse has shown. On the Flat they range from below 30 for bad performers to over 130 for the real top-notchers. Over jumps the range is from below 60 to over 165. Horses without recent rateable form appear as a dash.

Great care is taken to keep the level of Timeform ratings consistent from one season to the next (after due allowance has been made for various factors that might alter the overall picture), so that comparisons between different generations can be made.

A horse that achieves a rating of 140 or higher on the Flat can be considered among the greats of the Timeform era. Similarly, only a very few horses are awarded a rating of 175 or more over hurdles or 182 or more over fences.

The following are Timeform's Greatest Racehorses:

  
Highest Timeform Annual Ratings (Flat 3yo+)
147 Frankel
145 Sea-Bird
144 Brigadier Gerard, Tudor Minstrel
142 Abernant, Ribot
141 Mill Reef
140 Dancing Brave, Dubai Millennium, Harbinger, Sea The Stars, Shergar, Vaguely Noble
139 Arrogate, Generous, Pappa Fourway, Reference Point
  
Highest Timeform Annual Ratings (Jumps - Hurdlers)
182 Night Nurse
180 Istabraq, Monksfield
179 Persian War
178 Comedy of Errors, Le Sauvignon
177 Lanzarote, Limestone Lad
176 Bird's Nest, Bula, Faugheen, Golden Cygnet
175 Baracouda, Gaye Brief, Salmon Spray, Sea Pigeon
  
Highest Timeform Annual Ratings (Jumps - Chasers)
212 Arkle
210 Flyingbolt
192p Sprinter Sacre
191 Kauto Star, Mill House
187 Desert Orchid
186 Dunkirk
184 Burrough Hill Lad, Moscow Flyer, Long Run
183 Don Cossack, Master Oats
182 Azertyuiop, Best Mate, Captain Christy, Douvan, Carvill's Hill, Kicking King,
  See More Business, Well Chief

From time to time the question of how the merit of horses should be assessed arises, perhaps in the context of horses that show great consistency at the highest level without achieving a very high rating or when a horse with a single outstanding performance is rated among the best of its generation.

Hawk Wing's spectacularly one-sided victory in the 2003 Juddmonte Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, which he won by eleven lengths from Where Or When, was one occasion where Timeform's annual rating (136) met with criticism. Here's how we covered the topic in his essay in that year's Racehorses annual.

"Hawk Wing's performance in the Lockinge created plenty of debate, not least because it raised fundamental issues about how the merit of horses should be assessed. Many appear to think that handicapping is simply a matter of finding a horse which has run to form--a 'yardstick'--and basing the entire assessment of a race on this assumption...

It is just possible, of course, that Hawk Wing himself was the only horse to give his true running at Newbury and that he did not improve upon his previous efforts. Possible, but unlikely, taking everything, including his timefigure, into account. It could, on the other hand, be argued that our assessment of Hawk Wing is conservative, though his rating reflects a single performance and does not define him as the 'champion' of 2003. Other horses over the year, notably Falbrav, achieved a greater number of top-class performances.

According to some, not enough 'common sense' is used in deciding end-of-season ratings or rankings. One performance proves nothing, they say, and a horse like Hawk Wing should not be rated ahead of a horse so splendidly consistent as Falbrav. The ratings of a good number of the best horses in an annual like Racehorses are, after all, largely of academic rather than practical value. But handicapping in general could never be conducted this way.

Taking account of such attributes as toughness, consistency and versatility when rating horses would be penalising the very attributes that the critics themselves rightly hold so dear. The  connections of horses campaigned honestly and enterprisingly would be horrified if they thought these factors were being taken into account in the handicap marks allotted to their horses. Likewise there would be an outcry if a handicapper took the view that 'one performance proved nothing' and allowed a wide-margin winner to go unpenalised while it was given another chance to repeat that form."

More recently, Simon Rowlands took a look at different ways of answering the question, Who Is The World's Best Racehorse? You can also find a discussion of the process we follow in arriving at ratings in "How Timeform Handicaps Horses."

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LATEST HORSE RACING RESULTS

16:00 CHELTENHAM

1st James Bowen silk 3. MASTER DEBONAIR 3/14
2nd Richard Johnson silk nk 7. THYME HILL 8/19
3rd Nick Scholfield silk 9. KISSESFORKATIE (IRE) 33/134
J: James Bowen  
All 9 ran.
FULL RESULT

15:55 PUNCHESTOWN

1st Mr J. J. Codd silk 1. MALONE ROAD (IRE) 5/61.83f
2nd Mr P. W. Mullins silk 2. MT LEINSTER (IRE) 6/52.2
3rd Ms Lisa O'Neill silk 5. MAM TRASNA (IRE) 10/111
8 ran. NRs: 4 
FULL RESULT

15:50 FONTWELL PARK

1st Philip Donovan silk 3. MORTENS LEAM 18/119
2nd Mr Damien Skehan silk 3 2. FULL SHIFT (FR) 6/17
3rd David Noonan silk 18 11. MIDNIGHT OWLE 11/112
J: Philip Donovan (7)  
T: Mike Hawker  
11 ran. NRs: 5 
FULL RESULT

15:40 CORK

1st Mr C. L. Murphy silk 4. CARRIGNAGAPPLE 5/16
2nd Mr R. Deegan silk 9 6. GLORIOUS GALWAY (IRE) 33/134
J: Mr C. L. Murphy (7)  
All 7 ran.
FULL RESULT

15:30 CHELTENHAM

1st Harry Cobden silk 4. ELIXIR DE NUTZ (FR) 5/16
2nd Gavin Sheehan silk 1. ITCHY FEET (FR) 5/16
J: Harry Cobden  
5 ran. NRs: 2 
FULL RESULT

15:20 PUNCHESTOWN

1st Davy Russell silk sh 6. SATOSHI (IRE) 14/115
2nd R. Walsh silk ½ 7. RELEGATE (IRE) 4/91.44f
J: Davy Russell  
6 ran. NRs: 5 
FULL RESULT

15:15 FONTWELL PARK

1st Rex Dingle silk 11. BONZA GIRL 8/19
2nd James Best silk 10 2. SHAW'S CROSS (IRE) 25/126
3rd Tom Cannon silk 7 6. SKY FULL OF STARS (IRE) 8/19
J: Rex Dingle (7)  
T: Jeremy Scott  
14 ran. NRs: 12 
FULL RESULT

15:05 CORK

1st Shane Shortall silk 7. ALL THE ANSWERS 12/113
2nd Daniel Holden silk 5 9. TISAMYSTERY (IRE) 20/121
3rd J. C. Canavan silk nk 2. BLAST OF KOEMAN (IRE) 11/43.75f
All 10 ran.
FULL RESULT

15:00 CHELTENHAM

1st Danny McMenamin silk 19. NIETZSCHE 20/121
2nd Adam Wedge silk nk 6. SILVER STREAK (IRE) 12/113
3rd Lorcan Williams silk 1. OLD GUARD 16/117
4th Jeremiah McGrath silk ½ 2. VERDANA BLUE (IRE) 9/25.5f
J: Danny McMenamin (7)  
18 ran. NRs: 14  9 
FULL RESULT
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