Comparing different generations of race horses isn’t easy, mainly because they never raced against each other. However, ratings have been used to assess the brilliance of racehorses for decades, and an average Group-1 winner is rated between 125 and 129, whilst an above average group-1 winner is rated between 130 and 135. Meanwhile, outstanding racehorses are allotted a rating in excess of 140 – and here are the 5 highest-rated flat horses of all time.
Frankel – Rating 147
It was a privilege to witness the highest-rated flat horse of all time, and his career was one to marvel at. As a two-year-old he was a 10-length winner of the Royal Lodge, before he defeated the following year’s July Cup winner Dream Ahead in the Dewhurst. In the following year’s 2,000 Guineas he ran with the choke out all the way but still managed to come home 6-lengths in front of the rest, before easily beating the previous year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Canford Cliffs in the Sussex Stakes. As a four-year-old he produced a string of standout group-1 winning performances, winning the Lockinge Stakes, The Queen Anne Stakes, and a second Sussex Stakes, before stepping-up to 10-furlongs for his final two starts in the International at York and the Champions Stakes.
Sea Bird – Rating 145
Born 46 years earlier than Frankel, Sea Bird was a different animal altogether as he thrived over 12-furlongs. He also only won 2 of his 3 starts as a two-year-old, but made amends as a three-year-old in some style. French trained, he travelled over for the Epsom Derby in which he was sent off a short-priced favourite, and won hard-held by two-lengths. The runner-up that day, Meadow Court then went on to win the Irish Derby and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth. However, the performance that gained Sea Bird his exalted status, was his breath-taking 5-length win in the Arc De Triomphe.
Brigadier Gerard – Rating 144
Born in 1968, Brigadier Gerard won 17 of his 18 races. He was undefeated at both two and three, and won what is considered to be one of the best ever renewals of the 2,000 Guineas from Mill Reef, who himself achieved a rating of 141. As three-year-old he then went on to win the St James Palace Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, before stepping-up to 10—furlongs to win the Champion Stakes. His four-year-old wins included the Lockinge, the Prince of Wales Stakes and the Eclipse, and he proved what a marvellous race horse he was by stepping-up again in trip to 12-furlongs to win that year’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Tudor Minstrel – Rating 144
Tudor Minstrel was unbeaten at two, and excelled at a mile as a three-year-old when winning the 2,000 Guineas, St James Palace Stakes and the Knights Royale Stakes (now the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes). However, though he was unbeatable at a mile, he lost twice when stepped-up in trip, including in the Derby.
Abernant – Rating 142
Unlike the top-four on the list, Abernant excelled as a sprinter, winning fourteen of his 17 races. He got beaten on his racecourse debut, but then won five prestigious races to end the season as Champion Two-Year-Old. He was then tried at a mile in the 2,000 Guineas, losing by a short-head, before he reverted to sprinting to win that year’s Kings Stand, July Cup, King George and Nunthorpe. He was especially impressive over 5-furlongs in the Nunthorpe when he pulled 5-lengths clear of the field in the final furlong. As a four-year-old he found the concession of 23lb to Tangle beyond him in a repeat bid to win the Kings Stand, but repeated his wins in the July Cup, King George and the Nunthorpe.
*Whilst these horses achieved the highest-ratings of all time, feel free to post your views on who you think was the best race horse of all time – even if it’s just the horse that won you the most money!