You may or may not agree with the so-called “historical recalibration” of the World Thoroughbred Rankings, which downgraded Dancing Brave, winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1986, by 3lb, to leave Frankel, officially, the best horse since international ranking began in 1977. However, on his retirement to stud following his fourteenth consecutive victory, in the Champion Stakes at Ascot in October, 2012, Frankel had won 10 Group 1 races between 7 furlongs and 1 mile 2½ furlongs and just £1,698 short of £3 million in prize money, so there is no doubt he was a extraordinary racehorse.
Bred by Juddmonte Farms and trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil, Frankel started favourite for all 14 starts and was sent off at odds-against just once, on his debut in a maiden race, over a mile, at Newmarket in August, 2010. Having readily beaten subsequent King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Nathaniel by half a length on that occasion, he won his next two starts by 13 lengths and 10 lengths, respectively.
Frankel recorded his first Group 1 win – a comfortable, 2¼-length victory over subsequent Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Roderic O’Connor – in the Dewhurst Stakes, over 7 furlongs, at Newmarket in October, 2010. His unblemished juvenile season led to him being named Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt. It was a similar story in 2011, too, when further Group 1 victories in the 2,000 Guineas, the St. James’s Palace Stakes, the Sussex Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes made him Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt and Cartier Horse of the Year.
In 2012, Frankel was untroubled to win all five starts – all in Group 1 company and all at long odds-on – which made him Cartier Champion Older Horse and Cartier Horse of the Year for the second year running. He became the most decorated horse since the Cartier Awards began in 1991.