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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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NEWBURY 16:00

Friday 22 March
7. AIR NAVIGATOR 149
Ciaran Gethings silk Ciaran Gethings
Tom George hot trainer
2. WANDRIN STAR (IRE) 147
Mikey Hamill silk Mikey Hamill
Kim Bailey
5. HURRICANE DYLAN (IRE) 147
Aidan Coleman silk Aidan Coleman
Kevin Frost
Go to Full Race

LATEST HORSE RACING RESULTS

17:50 LUDLOW

1st Nico de Boinville silk 8. FLORESSA (FR) 2/13
2nd David Bass silk 7. SHANTOU EXPRESS (IRE) 6/42.5f
3rd Mr J. C. Barry silk 2 1. SHANROE 8/19
All 8 ran.
FULL RESULT

17:40 CHEPSTOW

1st Mr Zac Baker silk 2. DOUBLE ROSS (IRE) 11/82.37
2nd Mr Alex Ferguson silk 5. SAUSALITO SUNRISE (IRE) 1/12f
J: Mr Zac Baker  
All 5 ran.
FULL RESULT

17:30 CORK

1st Miss Liz Lalor silk 9. ROSEYS HOLLOW (IRE) 13/27.5
2nd Miss S. Ahern silk 6. MISS CEDILLE (FR) 7/18
3rd Miss J. M. Cook silk 24 1. ANOTHER COPPER (IRE) 20/121
J: Miss Liz Lalor (5)  
All 15 ran.
FULL RESULT

17:25 SEDGEFIELD

1st Alain Cawley silk 3. LATE DATE (IRE) 13/82.62
2nd Brian Hughes silk 1. DJIN CONTI (FR) 1/12f
J: Alain Cawley  
All 3 ran.
FULL RESULT

17:15 LUDLOW

1st Miss Abigail Banks silk 1. ARTHUR'S SECRET (FR) 8/151.53f
2nd Mr Bryan Carver silk 43 7. SAM CAVALLARO (IRE) 20/121
J: Miss Abigail Banks (7)  
6 ran. NRs: 3  6 
FULL RESULT

17:05 CHEPSTOW

1st Mikey Hamill silk 1. SUBWAY SURF (IRE) 4/71.57f
2nd Sam Twiston-Davies silk 5 15. VIENNA COURT (IRE) 5/16
3rd Harry Reed silk ½ 4. GOLDEN EMBLEM (IRE) 20/121
J: Mikey Hamill (3)  
T: Kim Bailey  
14 ran. NRs: 8 
FULL RESULT

17:00 CORK

1st P. Townend silk 6. RONALD PUMP 5/16
2nd Davy Russell silk 5. ELWOOD (FR) 16/117
3rd D. J. McInerney silk 11. BITSANDPIECES (IRE) 5/16
J: P. Townend  
All 14 ran.
FULL RESULT

16:55 SEDGEFIELD

1st Henry Brooke silk 7. LAMMTURNER (IRE) 6/17
2nd Billy Garritty silk 2. STRIKE WEST (IRE) 5/16
J: Henry Brooke  
All 7 ran.
FULL RESULT

16:45 LUDLOW

1st Barry Geraghty silk 5. MUSICAL SLAVE (IRE) 4/51.8f
2nd Alan Johns silk 2. LANDSMAN (IRE) 6/17
T: Philip Hobbs  
All 6 ran.
FULL RESULT
Go to Horse Racing Results