Frankel v Flightline: Is their equality merited?
January rattles on, the dust falling and, this time, settling on the memories of 2022: a year of renewed flat racing triumphs. Indeed, blowing that dust from its cover, there's even a new name to add to our history book. And it's not Baaeed, whose final defeat - after a ten time unbeaten run, and a summer spent whipping up fever - left him fumbling on a rating of 135. No, the new kid is Flightline, an American rock star who - for the fleeting second we saw him - clocked 140 in the World Horse Rankings, unveiled on Tuesday night at London's Longines World Racing Awards. The rating puts Flightline ahead of Sea The Stars. Ahead of Shergar. Ahead of Dancing Brave. And, most worryingly of all, on a par with Frankel, the fourteen-time unbeaten horse of a lifetime.
No longer can Tom Queally claim to have ridden the world's best racehorse. Discarded now his near nine-year, seemingly unreachable, time at the top. The solo run eclipsed, Flavien Pratt shares his honour. And for Pratt, victory must be both sweet and unexpected. Except, he doesn't reign supreme. Because, for all Flightline's cool-headed, modest magnificence, he can, surely, claim to be but a horse of the dirt. Was Flightline ever likely to triumph at Goodwood or Newmarket, Ascot or York? Was Frankel, though, ever likely to stun on the sand of Santa Anita, Del Mar, Belmont or Keeneland? Here are horses of two very different surfaces and, more pertinently, two very different continents. It's the all-too-familiar tale of American pizazz pitted up against calm English dominance, albeit with egos reversed (Frankel had one the scale of a country twice our size).