Timeform's Greatest Racehorses: The Ebor Festival's famous winners

Frankel at York in 2012
Tom Queally rides Frankel to victory in 2012

Ahead of the Ebor Festival, which begins on Wednesday at York, Timeform discuss some of its most famous winners including Frankel, Sea The Stars and more...

"Frankel 'put up the best time performance of the year' when bolting up on the Knavesmire in 2012 on the penultimate start of his unparalleled career."

The Juddmonte International (15:15 on Wednesday) - the highlight on the opening afternoon of York's four-day Ebor meeting - has been won by some of racing's modern greats, including Frankel and Sea The Stars. But there have also been some huge shocks, including when Brigadier Gerard was beaten in the first edition of the race - run under the banner of the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup - in 1972.

The story of the 1972 Benson and Hedges Gold Cup is comprehensively covered in an article on Brigadier Gerard, one of 53 in-depth profiles recently published by horseracing analysts Timeform to highlight the greatest racehorses, over Flat and jumps, since the company first started publishing its world-renowned ratings in 1948.

'Graveyard of champions'

Brigadier Gerard earned a rating of 144, which places him behind only Frankel (147) and Sea-Bird (145) in the pecking order among the best Flat horses, and his defeat in the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup was the only time he failed to win in an 18-race career.

Timeform's writer recalls: "Even though Brigadier Gerard's opponents included the first two in the Derby, Roberto and Rheingold, few forecast that they would give Brigadier Gerard much trouble on weight-for-age terms.

"However, three furlongs out it was clear all was not well with Brigadier Gerard and there was little response. With Roberto keeping up the strong gallop, Brigadier Gerard was beaten before the final furlong and ITV's John Penney concluded his commentary with the words 'Brigadier Gerard's unbeaten record is absolutely smashed to smithereens'."

The Benson and Hedges became known as the 'graveyard of champions', but in recent years the stars have shone at York.

Frankel heads list of famous winners

Timeform highlight how Sea The Stars "swept through in the closing stages to beat Mastercraftsman with something in hand by a length, the first and second both inside the previous record for the course and distance".

Frankel "put up the best time performance of the year" when bolting up on the Knavesmire in 2012 on the penultimate start of his unparalleled career.

Sea Pigeon is another famous York winner whose story is extensively retold. Sea Pigeon lumped top weight to victory in the 1979 Ebor, but he is best remembered for playing his part in the 'golden age of hurdling'. His battles with Night Nurse and Monskfield the stuff of legend.

Those three top-notch jumpers shared the Champion Hurdle between 1976 and 1981 and the incredible rivalry is a key theme in each of their profiles. Whether you want to simply relive the exploits of Frankel, or learn more about past stars such as Tudor Minstrel - who was dubbed a "world-beater" by Timeform's founder Phil Bull - you will relish these comprehensive reviews.

Highest Timeform Annual Ratings (Flat 3yo+)

147 Frankel

145 Sea-Bird

144 Brigadier Gerard, Tudor Minstrel

142 Abernant, Ribot

141 Mill Reef

140 Dancing Brave, Dubai Millennium, Harbinger, Sea The Stars, Shergar, Vaguely Noble

139 Arrogate, Generous, Pappa Fourway, Reference Point

Highest Timeform Annual Ratings (Jumps - Hurdlers)

182 Night Nurse

180 Istabraq, Monksfield

179 Persian War

178 Comedy of Errors, Le Sauvignon

177 Lanzarote, Limestone Lad

176 Birds Nest, Bula, Faugheen, Golden Cygnet

175 Baracouda, Gaye Brief, Salmon Spray, Sea Pigeon

Highest Timeform Annual Ratings (Jumps - Chasers)

212 Arkle

210 Flyingbolt

192p Sprinter Sacre

191 Kauto Star, Mill House

187 Desert Orchid

186 Dunkirk

184 Burrough Hill Lad, Moscow Flyer, Long Run

183 Don Cossack, Master Oats

182 Azertyuiop, Best Mate, Captain Christy, Douvan, Carvill's Hill, Kicking King, See More Business, Well Chief

Editor's choice - three must-read profiles

Brigadier Gerard (144)

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of what was surely the strongest 2000 Guineas ever run. In 1971 Brigadier Gerard established himself as a top-class racehorse by quickening past Mill Reef - who would also go on to become a true great - and the previously unbeaten My Swallow.

Read about how Brigadier Gerard decisively lowered the colours of those two formidable rivals and then went on to dominate the mile division while Mill Reef swept aside all-comers over a mile-and-a-half, setting up the tantalising prospect of a rematch at a mile-and-a-quarter.

Alas, that much-anticipated clash never materialised, despite both horses staying in training at four, but it still proved to be a memorable campaign for Brigadier Gerard who advanced his rating to 144, running to a level of form that at the time had only been bettered by Sea-Bird.

Night Nurse (h182)

No horse has run to a higher level over hurdles than Night Nurse, who won two Champion Hurdles during an exceptionally strong period remembered as the 'golden age of hurdling'.

Read how Night Nurse beat Monksfield and Sea Pigeon - who would share the next four Champion Hurdles - in the 1977 Champion Hurdle, which came at the height of the golden age and was arguably the strongest field ever assembled.

Night Nurse was an extremely tough horse and those battling qualities came to the fore most memorably in the 1977 Templegate Hurdle, which ended in a dead-heat with Monksfield, while he was also versatile enough to develop into a top-class staying chaser and finish runner-up in the 1981 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The story of Night Nurse is an incredible one.

Persian War (h179)

Persian War was an extremely successful racehorse - a three-time winner of the Champion Hurdle whose rating places him behind only Night Nurse, Monksfield and Istabraq in the hurdles pecking order.

However, what makes his tale so fascinating is the human interest. Persian War's over-ambitious owner Henry Alper ensured the horse regularly made headlines for things other than his exploits on the track. Indeed, Persian War changed yards no fewer than five times during his jumping career!

Read Persian War's profile to find out more about a champion racehorse with a colourful owner.

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