Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pantheon of the greats

What a week-end! Every single selection hit, except for hapless Arsenal who managed to go lose at Norwich. Obviously, the main talking point after Saturday was the place of Frankel among the all-time greats. Best horse there has ever been, has been a very popular clamour. There is no right or wrong answer on this one and I stand among those that will fall short of calling him the best ever. He could very well be the best of them all, but it impossible for me to give him that ultimate accolade with absolute confidence or certainty.

Don't get me wrong; Frankel is an unbelievable beast, the likes of which I've never seen before. He's the greatest miler of all time. Better, I consider him the best racehorse to have ever run up to 10 furlongs. If there was any match race from 8 to10 furlongs and I could select any horse, it would be him. He's the most dominant horse that has ever run at those distances. He's proved it by beating champions of the caliber of Canford Cliffs, Excelebration, and Cirrus des Aigles. He put anything that opposed him to submission.

But he hasn't run at 12 furlongs, the distance of reference for the best of the best, in my opinion. This is the distance of the Derbies, of the most-prestigious Arc, of the King George. This is the distance that tells the difference in class between the great and the immortal ones. The awesome Dubai Millenium lost his invincibility on his Derby attempt, a lack of stamina that was the cause of his only defeat. This is the distance that some mighty champions of Montjeu toyed with the their challengers. This is the distance that made the legends of Dancing Brave, Ribot, Deep Impact, Zarkava, Sea Bird, Nijinski, to name a few.

Frankel did not attempt that mythical distance, and the travesty of it all, is that he seemed to have the pedigree, being a son of Galileo. Had he won a high-caliber Group 1 at 12 furlongs, he would be my undisputed champion of all time. Would he have flopped like Dubai Millenium? Or would he have been as dominant as he proved at shorter distances? Have would he have reacted on the Longchamp straight with Ribot working on his inside and Deep Impact, Zarkava and Dancing Brave breathing down his neck with their dazzling finish, for the ultimate Arc? Most probably, he would have trounced all of them, but alas, he has no form to prove it. On similar lines, Black Caviar is possibly the greatest sprinter of all time, but she's just that, a sprinter; not the greatest racehorse there has been.

Not many champions end their career undefeated. The mystique behind Frankel is that he can not only boast he never got beaten, but he destroyed almost any horse that crossed his path. Such was his dominance. He's racing's version of Lionel Messi; he won everything there is to win while beating every record, except winning the World Cup. Can he be considered the greatest?

There has never been a certainty like Frankel in race punting, at least not in these times. He will be missed. He's the benchmark against which all future milers and 10-furlong performers will be gauged. I believe he will stay thus for a long long time. Frankel was a destroyer, possibly not the greatest racehorse, but certainly the most dominant thoroughbred there has been.

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