Which was the most prolific racehorse ever?

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.

In which race did Frankel achieve his highest Timeform rating?

On October 15, 2011, on the final start of his three-year-old campaign, Frankel ran on powerfully to beat Excelebration by 4 lengths in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, over the straight mile at Ascot, as a result of which he was awarded a Timeform rating of 143+. At that stage of his career, Frankel was rated just 2lb inferior to Sea-Bird, awarded a Timeform rating of 145 after winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe by six lengths, although the ‘+’ attached to his rating indicated that he ‘may be be better than rated’. Indeed, Timeform hailed the ‘bold and refreshing decision’ by owner Khalid Abdulla to keep Frankel in training as a four-year-old.

So it proved, because on June 19, 2012, on the second start of his four-year-old campaign and his eleventh start in all, Frankel recorded an extremely impressive 11-length victory over his old rival Excelebration in the Queen Anne Stakes, over the same course and distance, to achieve a Timeform rating of 147+. Frankel did not better that rating when stepped up to a mile and a quarter, and beyond, in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York and the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot, but nonetheless remains the highest-rated horse in the history of Timeform.

Before Frankel, which was the highest-rated horse in the history of Timeform?

On June 19, 2012, Frankel recorded what the Racing Post reported as an ‘extremely impressive’ 11-length victory over Excelebration in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot and, in so doing, became the highest-rated horse in the history of Timeform, which first published ratings in ‘Racehorses of 1948’. As confirmed in ‘Racehorses of 2012’, Frankel was awarded a rating of 147, 2lb superior to Sea-Bird, who was beaten just once in an eight-race career in 1964 and 1965 and awarded a rating of 145 after winning all five starts as a three-year-old. Sea-Bird raced just once in Britain, effortlessly beating Meadow Court and twenty other rivals by two lengths in the Derby without coming off the bridle.

Later in 1965, Sea-Bird was sent off 6/5 favourite for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, despite facing the strongest field of middle-distance talent ever assembled, including the hitherto unbeaten Prix du Jockey Club, or French Derby, winner Reliance. Despite sweating profusely in the preliminaries, Sea-Bird was travelling well in fifth place approaching the home straight and, thereafter, came clear of his rivals along with the eventual runner-up, Reliance. Sea-Bird veered alarmingly across the track in the last half a furlong or so, but still won by an official margin of six lengths, with Australian-born jockey Pat Glennon patting him down the neck in the closing stages.

Was Frankel the best horse ever?

Between August 13, 2010 and October 20, 2012, Frankel won all 14 of his races, including ten at Group One level and, in so doing, became the first horse since Abernant, in 1948, 1949 and 1950, to be the best of his generation at two, three and four years, according to Timeform. Indeed, following an 11-length win in the Queen Anne Stakes, over a mile, at Royal Ascot in June, 2012, Frankel was awarded a provisional rating of 147 – the highest ever in the history of Timeform – and the same rating, again, following a 7-length win in the Juddmonte International Stakes, on his first attempt over a mile-and-a-quarter.

The following January, his Timeform Annual Rating was confirmed at 147 and, according to World Thoroughbred Rankings, he was rated 140, making him the highest-rated horse in the history of that organisation, too. However, the 2012 World Thoroughbred Rankings did involve what was called ‘historical recalibration’, which saw the rating of the previously highest-rated horse, Dancing Brave, reduced from 141 to 138.

Frankel was widely hailed as the ‘best horse ever’, but it is worth remembering that Timeform ratings were only first published in 1948 and until fairly recently only included horses that raced in Britain. Similarly, World Thoroughbred Rankings were only first published in 1977 and before 1995 did not include horses that raced in North America. Frankel was, probably, the best horse of the modern era but, because he cannot be compared, at least not empirically, with the champions of yesteryear – such as Kincsem, Man o’War and Secretariat, to name but three – whether or not he was the best horse ever is really just a matter of opinion.

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