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Ratings Update: Golden leads his generation

Keith Melrose covers the latest step in Golden Horn's climb to the top, as well as other big performances from around the globe.

Though it’s always the same old dance, we should be thankful that the discussion over what constitutes greatness in a racehorse has the opportunity to crop up so often. Frankel, Harbinger and Sea The Stars have already been trigger-words in the last half-dozen years and now we have another. It’s getting to the point where Golden Horn carries that sort of volume on his own. Couple him up with American Pharoah and the cries are already audible.

American Pharoah is already guaranteed a place in history as the horse that conquered the US Triple Crown after a 37-year wait. Yet as things stand, he isn’t even the best colt of his generation. That title is now with Derby winner Golden Horn, whose rating has been raised to 133p following his victory in Saturday’s Eclipse at Sandown.

The Derby-Eclipse double had been done twice before since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978, but in form terms we think that Golden Horn has bettered American Pharoah’s Triple Crown efforts in making it thrice. Though he got a typically deft front-running ride from Frankie Dettori, the fact that he stretched on from the high-class The Grey Gatsby, who’d stalked him throughout, in the closing stages suggests that he is every bit as superior to that rival as the three and a half-length winning margin would suggest. It could theoretically have been even further in a truly run race, which combined with the fact that Golden Horn has still run only five times makes the case for retaining his symbol.

Golden Horn was rated 131p after the Derby, 132p after his efforts were franked in the Irish Derby and now 133p after the Eclipse. He’s undoubtedly inching towards greatness. When would he achieve it? We’re happy to leave that a subjective judgement. For what it’s worth, to look at Timeform ratings the pyramid of top-class horses seems to narrow most significantly above 137. Golden Horn just might be capable of that sort of level.

***

Besides the Eclipse, it was a relatively quiet weekend in Britain. Sandown’s support card is always extremely competitive, though big performances tend to be the preserve of the feature. The exception came in the Charge, won by Waady who comes out with the same rating as he had pre-race- 118p. He’s worth stepping up now, potentially a third top-notch sprinter in the Hamdan colours alongside Muthmir (120p) and Muhaarar (128p).

***

It’s unlikely that Golden Horn and American Pharoah will ever race against each other, so we will have to hope for sufficient opposition to test them to their limits. We have more faith in Golden Horn meeting other top horses, with the likes of Time Test and Treve perhaps on his hit-list for later in the season. The US dirt colts are evidently no match for American Pharoah, while the only three-year-old that has emerged as a legitimate contender is turf filly Lady Eli.

In the Belmont Oaks on Saturday, Lady Eli took her career record to six from six. The bare form of her victory by a little less than three lengths doesn’t in itself enhance her reputation, but the manner of it and time recorded, both in spite of a very wide trip, mark her out as a filly of rare talent. Now rated 125, it’s reckoned she’d pose a significant threat to American Pharoah were a suitable meeting on the track ever found.

***

On what was a truly international weekend, we finish with a visit to Germany. For the second year in a row, the Deutches Derby was won by a wide margin. Nutan’s five lengths on Sunday isn’t in the same league as Sea The Moon’s 11-length demolition last year and neither is his rating. Nevertheless, now rated 120 he is worth trying in some of Europe’s better middle-distance races and would certainly hold claims in Germany’s other Group 1s, those typically requiring a performance in the low-mid 120s for success.

 
Free Race Pass of the Day
PONTEFRACT 3:10
Tuesday 7th July
9. TEMPTRESS (IRE) 126p

126.8

silk Pat Dobbs
Roger Charlton

6. PELERIN (IRE) 121

121.6

silk Martin Harley
Marco Botti

7. QUEEN CATRINE (IRE) 119

119.6

silk Oisin Murphy
Charles Hills