‘The Wonder From Down Under’ stretched her winning sequence to twenty-two in 2012, rounding off with a dramatic success at Royal Ascot. It was not her hard-fought victory over Moonlight Cloud and Restiadargent there that earned her a rating of 136, however: far from it, as Black Caviar ran to only 123. Better efforts had come on her home turf, and particularly in the Coolmore Lightning Stakes at Flemington in February, when she accounted for Hay List readily by 1¾ lengths.
Black Caviar and Luke Nolan (salmon, nearside) winning the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m) at Royal Ascot in June, 2012, picture Liesl King
It was no surprise that Black Caviar led the way in the sprint division once again in 2012, and her essay in Racehorses examines the transformation in the international reputation of Australasian horses over the past ten years or so, with the sprint division being one in which they have had particular success. Indeed, it is noted that five of the top six ratings for sprinters in Timeform ’s Global Rankings for 2012 were for horses trained in Australia or originating from there.
Black Caviar is not only exceptional by sprinting standards, however, but also in historical terms. She is the joint highest-rated filly or mare aged three or above since Timeform started rating horses, on a par with Allez France (the French-trained Arc winner in 1974) and Habibti (the outstanding British-trained sprinter of 1983).
Black Caviar’s victory at Royal Ascot was by far the most dramatic, but from a ratings point of view there was only one winner in the much-publicised battle between Black Caviar and Frankel. Frankel has been awarded a Timeform rating of 147 for his breathtaking 11-length success in the Queen Anne, which confirms him as the highest-rated horse in their history.
Frankel’s essay in Racehorses, in addition to providing a full review of another unbeaten campaign, when most of his rivals were again beaten “by a comfortable margin, like a chainsaw going through balsa wood”, puts his overall achievements in an historical context (“the first horse since Abernant to be champion at two, three and four”) by drawing comparisons with greats of the past whom he supplanted at the top of Timeform’s all-time rankings.
Additionally, a comprehensive reasoning behind his 147 rating is provided, as well as a description of Timeform’s handicapping methods more generally, “In the case of the Queen Anne, the calculations for ‘race standardisation’ and `prior-rating standardisation’ both pointed to Frankel’s performance being worth a Timeform rating in the mid-140s at least. Frankel’s rating of 147 was not arrived at by assuming that the performance of one of the beaten horses could decide the entire level of the race. Indeed, the ratings for Frankel’s Queen Anne Stakes do not have a single horse in the race running, conveniently or by chance, to its rating going into the race”.
Frankel and Tom Queally winning the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (1600m) at Royal Ascot, picture Liesl King
Frankel and Black Caviar may have garnered the most headlines in 2012, but there several other notable performers around, including Cirrus des Aigles (who ran to 135 when beaten less than two lengths by Frankel in the Champion Stakes) and Frankel’s old rival Excelebration (133), who yet again made his presence felt in the top mile races that Frankel didn’t contest in 2012, winning the QEII most notably, though even he had to settle for minor honours at the Breeders’ Cup behind American miling sensation Wise Dan (134).
Timeform Global Rankings also focuses on the best staying performances in 2012, going as far as to say “worldwide …the Melbourne Cup… seems to have now become the key race in the calendar for stayers”. Americain might only have finished eleventh this year, but in a modestly-run contest he wasn’t beaten far from a high mark, posting a Timeform rating of 125, a match for third-placed Jakkalberry and, despite not winning, these were the joint-best performances of the year in a staying race on Timeform figures. Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon ran to a rating of 124 at Flemington, in receipt of 10 lb and 4 lb respectively from the aforementioned pair.