Which are, or were, the greatest racehorses of all time?

In the absence of an objective measure of the abilities of racehorses from different generations, any discussion of the ‘greatest’ racehorses of all time is inevitably highly subjective. According to Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings World, formerly Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings, which began in 1977, Frankel, who retired, unbeaten, in October, 2012, is the highest-rated horse in the history of official classifications. Even so, Frankel only achieved that position after a controversial ‘recalibration’ of the ratings, which saw Dancing Brave, winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1986, downgraded by 3lb.

Timeform agrees that Frankel is the highest-rated horse, on the Flat, at least, since its first ‘Racehorses’ annual, published in 1948, 2lb superior to Sea Bird, winner of the Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1965 and fully 7lb superior to Dancing Brave. Timeform also has Arkle, winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1964, 1965 and 1966 at the head of its all-time list of steeplechasers; his rating of 212 is 20lb superior to any steeplechaser, bar stable companion Flyingbolt, in over five decades. According to Timeform, Brigadier Gerard, who tasted defeat just once in his eighteen-race career in the early Seventies, is rated 3lb inferior to Frankel, but must be considered one of the greatest racehorses of all time. So, too, must Eclipse, who won all eighteen starts between April, 1764 and February, 1789 without being asked a serious question.

What is Shadwell Racing?

Shadwell Racing is the horse racing business of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy tuler of Dubai and brother of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and founder of Godolpin. Sheikh Hamdan developed an interest in horse racing while studying at the Bell School of Languages in Cambridge in the late Sixties and his now familiar blue and white colours were first carried on a British racecourse in 1980.

Four years later, in 1984, Sheikh Hamdan purchased the 6,000-acre Shadwell Estate in Thetford, Norfolk which, following the construction of the Nunnery Stud, in 1987, would become the British base for one of the most highly regarded horse racing and bloodstock operations in the world. In the intervening three decades or so, Sheikh Hamdan has invested heavily in both aspects of the business and the Nunnery Stud has been home to illustrious racehorses and stallions alike.

Indeed, even in the face of formidable competition from the likes of Coolmore and Godolphin, to name but two, Sheikh Hamdan has been Champion Owner in Britain six times, most recently in 2014. Notable runners over the years have included 2000 Guineas, Derby, Coral-Eclipse Stakes and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1989 and Dayjur, dubbed ‘the world’s fastest horse after winning the King’s Stand Stakes’, Nunthorpe Stakes, Ladbroke Sprint Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 1990. Much more recently, Baataash has continued to fly the flag for Sheikh Hamdan, winning the Prixe de l’Abbaye de Longchamp in 2017, Numthorpe Stakes in 2019 and King’s Stand Stakes in 2020, among other high-profile races.

How many times has Ryan Moore won the Derby?

Ryan Moore was crowned Champion Jockey in 2006, 2008 and 2009 and would surely have won the jockeys’ title in 2007, too, but for a broken right arm, sustained in a fall at Lingfield in March that year, which kept him out of action for three months. Nevertheless, Moore still finished third in the jockeys’ championship and, that November, became stable jockey to Sir Michael Stoute.

Indeed, three years later, in 2010, Moore rode his first Derby winner, Workforce, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah and trained by Stoute. Sent off at 6/1 joint-third favourite for the Epsom Classic, the King’s Best colt made short work of the opposition, winning by seven lengths and, in so doing, beating the previous track record set by Lammtarra fifteen years earlier.

Workforce went on to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp but, in 2011, Moore was widely expected to become stable jockey to Aidan O’Brien at Balldoyle, County Tipperary, Ireland. That move failed to materialise as anticipated, but Moore continued his informal, but nonetheless effective, association with O’Brien, which would yield numerous Group One and Grade One victories in Britain, Ireland and the United States. Indeed, O’Brien supplied Moore with his second Derby winner, Ruler Of The World, who maintained his unbeaten record by defeating eleven rivals, including better-fancied stable companion Battle Of Marengo, in the 2013 renewal.

Who was John Dunlop?

John Dunlop, who retired from the training ranks at the end of the 2012 Flat season and died in July, 2018, at the age of 78, after a long illness, was a doyen of British horse racing for nearly half a century. Born in Tetbury, Gloucestershire on July 10, 1939, Dunlop became assistant trainer to Gordon Smyth at Castle Stables in Arundel, West Sussex in 1963. Two years later, in 1965, Smyth moved to Heath House Stables in Lewes, East Sussex, on the retirement of John ‘Towser’ Gosden and Dunlop took over the licence as private trainer to Bernard Fitzalan-Howard,16th Duke of Norfolk, and his wife, Lavinia.

Dunlop had the distinction of saddling Hatta, the first British winner in the now familiar maroon and white silks of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at Brighton in 1977. In 1983, he also saddled British Horse of the Year Habibti to win the July Cup, William Hill Sprint Championship, Vernons Sprint Cup and Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp. Dunlop was Champion Trainer just once, in 1995, but, at the peak of his powers, had over 200 horses in his charge. All told, he trained over 3,500 winners, including ten British Classic winners. He never won the 2,000 Guineas, but won the 1,000 Guineas and the St. Leger three times apiece and the Derby and the Oaks twice apiece. Habibiti aside, arguably the best horse he ever trained was Shirley Heights, winner of the Derby and the Irish Derby in 1978.

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