The late Sir Henry Cecil, who died of cancer on June 11, 2013, at the age of 70, is best known as the trainer of Frankel, the highest rated horse in the history of Timeform and World Thoughbred Rankings, who retired, unbeaten in 14 races, in October, 2012. However, while Cecil, who was kinghted for services to horse racing in 2011, may have described Frankel as ‘the best horse I’ve ever seen’, he was arguably one of the greatest trainers in history.
Unfortunately his career was overshadowed by controversy but, in his heyday, between the late Seventies and early Nineties, Cecil was Champion Trainer ten times. Overall, he saddled 25 British Classic winners and was particularly adept with fillies, winning the Oaks eight times, including with Fillies’ Triple Crown heroine Oh So Sharp in 1985, and the 1,000 Guineas six times. He also won the Derby four times, including with British Horse of the Year, Reference Point, in 1987, the St. Leger four times and the 2,000 Guineas three times. Until June, 2018, when Poet’s Word, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, won the St. James’s Palace Stakes, Cecil also held the record for the most winners at Royal Ascot, having saddled 75 in his long, illustrious career.
Bred and owned by Juddmonte Farms, under the auspices of Khalid Abdullah, and trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil, Frankel won five times at Ascot in all, but just two of those victories came at Royal Ascot. Indeed, on the first occasion, as a three-year-old, on June 14, 2011, Frankel came as close to defeat as he did in his entire 14-race career. Fresh from an impressive 6-length win in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, the Galileo colt was sent off at 30/100 to win the St. James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal Meeting. However, having taken a 6-length lead with a quarter of a mile to run, Frankel was quickly coming back to his rivals inside the final half a furlong and had to be ridden out by jockey Tom Queally to beat 20/1 chance Zoffany, trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore, by three-quarters of a length.
The following season, as a four-year-old, Frankel contested the opening Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, for which he started a hugley prohibitive 1/10. Nevertheless, his cramped odds proved entirely justified as he soon quickened clear, despite drifting slightly right in the closing stages, for an extremely impressive 11-length win over old rival Excelebration; in so doing, Frankel achieved the highest rating ever achieved by a Flat horse in the history of Timeform.
Frankel, of course, retired in October, 2012, unbeaten in fourteen races, including ten at the highest, Group One level, as the highest-rated racehorse ever. However, Frankel raced just four times as a juvenile, culminating in a comfortable 2½-length victory over Roderic O’Connor in the Group One Dubai Dewhurst Stakes, for which he was awarded an official rating of 126. That was sufficient for him to end his juvenile campaign as the joint-top-rated two-year-old, alongside Dream Ahead.
By contrast, Pinatubo raced six times as a juvenile and remained unbeaten. His victories included an impressive 9-length win in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh, for which he was awarded an official rating of 128, and a 2-length win in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes on his final two outings. Consequently, Pinatubo ended his juvenile campaign with the highest official rating since the 130 awarded to Celtic Swing and fully 10lb ahead of the best of his contemporaries, namely Earthlight and Kamenko.
Of course, Frankel went on to prove himself a champion at three and four years, achieving an official rating of 136 in 2011 and 140 in 2012. Pinatubo enjoyed an exceptional juvenile campaign, in which he achieved more than even Frankel, but needs to improve by 8lb or more from two to three, and 4lb or more from three to four, if he is to emulate his illustrious predecessor. That is, by no means, beyond the realms of possibility, but it remains early days for the son of Shamardal.
Frankel, who was retired from racing in October, 2012, unbeaten in fourteen races – ten of which were at the highest Group One level – was subsequently hailed as the highest-rated in the history of World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings, which were introduced in 1977. However, unquestionably brilliant though he was, even Frankel came nowhere near some of the most prolific thoroughbreds – undefeated or otherwise – in the history of horse racing across the globe.
The most prolific racehorse ever appears to have been Galgo Jr., a Puerto Rican thoroughbred who racked up 137 wins from 158 starts between 1930 and 1936, including, unbelievably, an unbeaten sequence of 39 in the space of a year. Next best, in terms of outright wins, comes American Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Kingston, who won 89 of his 138 starts in the late nineteenth century and finished out of the money just four times.
Of the horses which, like Frankel, remained unbeaten throughout their entire racing careers, another Puerto Rican-bred thoroughbred, Camarero, notched up 56 consecutive wins in the 1950s and tops the list. However, the legendary Hungarian mare, Kincsem, who was unbeaten in 54 races all over Europe, including the Goodwood Cup on her only visit to Britain, in a four-year period in the 1870s is a worthy second-best.