Opinions The World's Greatest Horse Race

Published on February 3rd, 2013 | by Atholl Blair


The Greatest Horse Race The World Has Ever Seen…

Roll up, roll up, to witness the greatest horse race the world has ever seen! We’ve taken ten of the world’s most successful, highest rated thoroughbreds from the last century and raced them against each other in the “RacingDatabase.com Champion Of Champions Stakes” to compete for the ultimate title of #1 Racehorse In The World. Never before has a race of such magnitude been attempted!

Here are the contenders for the Champion Of Champion Stakes:

  1. FRANKEL (Rated 147) – Winner of the Royal Lodge Stakes and the Dewhurst Stakes in 2010. The Greenham Stakes, 2000 Guineas, St James Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes and the QE II Stakes in 2011. The Lockinge Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes (where he won by an astounding 11 lengths) and the Sussex Stakes, again, in 2012. Timeform responded to his Queen Anne Stakes win by raising his rating to 147, the highest rating they’ve ever given!
  2. SEA-BIRD II (Rated 145) – Winner of the Prix Lupin, Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, the Epsom Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1965. His Timeform rating of 145 remained the highest ever flat figure awarded by that publication for almost fifty years… until, of course, the all-defeating champion Frankel came along and broke all previous records!
  3. SECRETARIAT (Rated 144) – Winner of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes, and many more, in 1973. Secretariat was simply referred to as “a machine” and he broke records wherever and whoever he raced against. He won the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths and even today no other horse has broken his record over 1 1/2 miles on dirt. His ability to accelerate through his races, increasing his speed as he went, was phenomenal. They said of him at the time, “No one had ever seen anything run like that, it was amazing!”
  4. BRIGADIER GERARD (Rated 144) – Winner of the 2000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes, the Goodwood Mile, QEII Stakes, Champion Stakes, Lockinge Stakes, Eclipse Stakes and the King George in 1971-1972. He won 17 of his 18 races, which included 12 races now ranked at Group 1 level, and his Timeform rating of 144 meant that he was the second highest rated flat horse ever, with only Sea Bird ahead of him. The Brigadier Gerard Stakes which is run at Sandown Park in late May or early June each year is named in his honour.
  5. TUDOR MINSTREL (Rated 144) – Winner of the Coventry Stakes, the Produce Stakes, the Knights Royal Stakes, St James Palace Stakes and the 2000 Guineas, by a record breaking 8 lengths, in 1946 and 1947. Tudor Minstrel raced 10 times and won 8 of those, with his only defeats being when he raced over further than a mile, most notably when starting odds-on favourite for the Derby in 1947. He remains one of the highest rated horses in history.
  6. ABERNANT (Rated 142) – Winner of the King’s Stand Stakes, the July Cup, the Nunthorpe Stakes and the King George in 1949 and 1950. Abernant sired the winners of over 1,000 races and even now his legacy lives on. The late Gordon Richards, a legend in his own right, described him as the fastest horse he’d ever sat on and the Independent newspaper reported that Abernant “was the best sprinter ever to grace a racecourse”.
  7. RIBOT (Rated 142) – Undefeated in 16 races, Ribot won over all distances from 5 furlongs to 1m 7f, in three countries and on all types of track conditions. He won the King George on his only trip to England in 1955 and the Arc that same year, then again the following year too where he demolished a particularly strong field by a comfortable 6 lengths. This horse was a phenomenon back in the 1950’s and he surely still would be if he was racing today!
  8. MILL REEF (Rated 141) – Winner of the Coventry Stakes, Gimcrack Stakes, Dewhurst Stakes, Greenham Stakes, the Epsom Derby, the Eclipse Stakes, the King George, the Prix Ganay, the Coronation Cup and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe from 1970 to 1972. After his retirement, due to an injury in 1972, he then went on to have a hugely successful stud career too!
  9. DUBAI MILLENIUM (Rated 140) – Winner of the Predominate Stakes, Prix Eugène Adam, Prix Jacques Le Marois, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Prince of Wales’s Stakes and the Dubai World Cup in 1999 and 2000. In August 2000 he broke his leg and in April 2001 he became gravely ill with grass sickness and was euthanized, but the legend lives on with his family producing a string of top-class wins in recent years, including the 2000 Guineas winner Makfi.
  10. GENEROUS (Rated 139) – Winner of the Epsom Derby, the Irish Derby and the King George in 1991. When Generous was born in 1988 the inspecting vet described his colouring as “weak” and he suffered the same kind of prejudice throughout his early racing career, but it’s safe to say that they had underestimated this horse, big style, because he went to become one of the most prolific Epsom Derby and King George winners the world has ever seen!

The line-up for the big race includes multiple 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, King George VI Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winners, along with the horse who was “probably” the best ever dirt horse in the US, Secretariat, with a few of their glorious successes dating back some 70+ years. It’s a true race of champions if ever there was one and a feast of a race for every major horse racing enthusiast.

Race Commentary

Click on the play button below to listen in to the world’s greatest horse race:

Summary Of The Race

Of course, this is just a little bit of fun, but the horses are some of the finest champions of the last century and our method of ranking their finishing positions is achieved by using a mix of Timeform ratings, our own judgement and with a little bit of favouritism thrown in for good measure too.

I’ll apologise in advance if some of your all-time favourites aren’t included in the line-up here. There were a couple of our own who came to close to being entered, but we had to draw the line somewhere and when we put our heads together these were the ten “finalists” that we jointly came up with.

Hope you enjoy the brilliant and sometimes amusing commentary from our friend Arny… 😉

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About the Author

is a lifelong horse racing enthusiast and full-time exchange trader with over 10 years experience in profitable trading. He's an expert at spotting when the odds are out of sync and will only back, lay or trade a position when he's 100% sure that everything is in place to generate a profit. When we need advice about a bet we ask Atholl and you're welcome to quiz him with your betting related questions too.

9 Responses to The Greatest Horse Race The World Has Ever Seen…

  1. jason lerro says:

    how does a horse run 2.24

  2. john jordan says:

    this my friend is sort of silly.But to Frankel,well he did run with heart.and was no doublt,a proven winner.
    and was a true champion.But to Secrateria,he too was just another like sham,if it really came down to head to head.without,one whip upon his back,and to run his own race.Secrateria,could of easily beat Frankel to,all .if Ron would of let him run,like he could.where as Frankel had to be whip to be pushed to win some tighter races.try taking Frankel from the back of the pack and and do what Secrateria,has done many of times and whisp bye his opponets,was unlike anything on this planet.and Now he runs his own race,and destroys all contenders,Imagine having that chance to prove his self to even whats considered the best yet.They have to smashed all records to earn that right.and that would have to been seen,close but short.

  3. Lee says:

    Curious as how you came up with the field, particularly why Secretariat was the only American horse included. From what I’ve read, he was Timeform’s highest rated 20th Century U.S. horse, but Citation was second on 142 and Spectacular Bid third on 141 – which look clearly within your top 10. (I think Man o’ War was fourth on 138 or 139)

    On the drugging of horses, it’s been a problem, at least here in the States, for a lot longer than since the 60s and 70s. The drugs of choice in the 1890s and 1900s included codeine, cocaine, heroin, and strychnine (amongst other things), which were considered advancements from the older coffee + sherry or whiskey.

    • The honest truth is that we couldn’t include everything Lee. There are a lot of horses in the same kind of rating bracket and we had to pick and choose a few from those. It was just a bit of fun anyway – we’ll never really know how good they compare over so many decades.

      And, yeah, you are right enough about the drug problem :-)

  4. I find it hard to believe that a horse, which is best known for avoiding the Classic races of its 3yo year, although responsible for some excellent wins against questionable opposition – generally in moderate time, is regarded as the ‘best horse of all time’. Timeform’s ratings for Frankel are regarded as ‘suspect’ by most non-populist horse people. Personally, I’d rather have Secretariat or Mill Reef racing for me, particularly if my life depended on it. Interesting, given that the horses apparently don’t have to have staying ability (which would disqualify Frankel), that there is no place in the field for Black Caviar, unbeaten in 25 starts, 15 at Group 1 level, including one in England while suffering massive injury. It makes the whole exercise ring a little hollow to this observer; just more of the typical Frankel over-hype.

    • Atholl Blair says:

      I do understand your point John, but in the US and Australia they use performance enhancing drugs, even back in the Secretariat days, and in the UK we don’t. That’s one reason why Black Caviar wasn’t included, but another is that she’s only rated in the 130’s and that wasn’t good enough to make the cut here.

      She only really scraped home by the shortest of margins in a field that certainly wasn’t top-class when she ran at Ascot, so how good is she really? Probably the best filly we’ve ever seen, but not in the top 10 on ratings. Not even close actually. Maybe she did win despite of injury that day, I don’t know, but she hasn’t achieved anything like what Frankel did.

      Obviously this video was a bit of fun though. You have to see that. We’ve taken sprinters against middle distance horses, and we’ll never actually know how good these horses were as most are now dead, so we’ll simply never know how they compare.

      Frankel is definitely the best horse I’ve ever seen, in my lifetime, and I’m in my 40’s now, but I’m sure if I was following the racing back in the 60’s or 70’s then my view might very well be different… :-)

  5. Mike says:

    This is fantastic and I was quite pleasantly surprised by the winner too. The Aussie commentator is brilliant, not sure where you found him from, but he’s done a great job of this. I love the part at the end where he says “There’s no denying it now, what a champion!” with a knowing glance at the camera. Fantastic.

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