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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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FREE DAILY RACE PASS

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LINGFIELD PARK 14:30

Friday 18 January
5. SHAMSHON (IRE) 120
Nicola Currie silk Nicola Currie
Stuart Williams
3. GORGEOUS NOORA (IRE) 119
Hollie Doyle silk Hollie Doyle horse in focus
Archie Watson hot trainer
4. WATCHABLE 119
Joe Fanning silk Joe Fanning
David O'Meara
Go to Full Race

LATEST HORSE RACING RESULTS

19:25 NEWCASTLE

1st Robert Winston silk 5. ARCHIMEDES (IRE) 5/16
2nd Joe Fanning silk nk 4. CUPPACOCO 10/111
3rd Jason Hart silk nk 8. STEELRIVER (IRE) 6/17
11 ran. NRs: 3 
FULL RESULT

18:55 NEWCASTLE

1st Cam Hardie silk 8. ANOTHER ANGEL (IRE) 5/16
2nd Ben Robinson silk ¾ 4. AMAZING GRAZING (IRE) 16/117
3rd Eoin Walsh silk 1 10. FIRST EXCEL 6/17
J: Cam Hardie  
10 ran. NRs: 6 
FULL RESULT

18:25 NEWCASTLE

1st Harry Russell silk 1. DANDY HIGHWAYMAN (IRE) 11/112
2nd C. J. McGovern silk ns 3. KEN'S SAM'S (IRE) 9/43.25f
3rd Callum Rodriguez silk 5. ASTROPHYSICS 9/110
J: Harry Russell (7)  
T: Ollie Pears  
All 13 ran.
FULL RESULT

17:55 NEWCASTLE

1st Luke Morris silk 3. GLORY OF PARIS (IRE) 11/102.1f
2nd Cam Hardie silk ½ 1. FAYEZ (IRE) 5/23.5
J: Luke Morris  
All 5 ran.
FULL RESULT

17:25 NEWCASTLE

1st Joe Fanning silk 6. DAWN DELIGHT 11/43.75
2nd Luke Morris silk 2. MASTER DIVER 10/34.33
J: Joe Fanning  
T: Hugo Palmer  
7 ran. NRs: 1 
FULL RESULT

16:55 NEWCASTLE

1st P. J. McDonald silk 7. RICH APPROACH (IRE) 13/82.62f
2nd Joe Fanning silk 4. AXEL JACKLIN 15/28.5
3rd C. J. McGovern silk 1. BERYL THE PETAL (IRE) 7/24.5
All 8 ran.
FULL RESULT

16:25 NEWCASTLE

1st Joe Fanning silk 4. MISS BATES 9/25.5
2nd Robert Havlin silk 3. IRISH TIMES 12/113
3rd Phil Dennis silk 8. HARBOUR PATROL (IRE) 20/121
J: Joe Fanning  
T: Ann Duffield  
13 ran. NRs: 5 
FULL RESULT

16:10 WINCANTON

1st Chester Williams silk 8. FAIRE PART SIVOLA (FR) 3/14
2nd Harry Cobden silk 2. GOLDEN GIFT (IRE) 9/43.25f
3rd David Bass silk ¾ 6. SADLERMOR (IRE) 11/26.5
J: Chester Williams (7)  
9 ran. NRs: 1 
FULL RESULT

16:00 LUDLOW

1st Bridget Andrews silk 5. GETARIVER (IRE) 4/15
2nd Wayne Hutchinson silk 8 6. PERFECT PREDATOR 7/18
T: Dan Skelton  
All 6 ran.
FULL RESULT
Go to Horse Racing Results