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15 Mar 14 18:45
Date Joined: 24 Aug 11
| Topic/replies: 628 | Blogger: JackQueen's blog Flyingbolt.

2 abnormally exceptional horses against any standard before and after from the same trainer and time period?
Pause Switch to Standard View My Problem With Arkle
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Report ged March 16, 2014 11:22 PM GMT
They even changed the weights for the KG because of Arkle - just for one year.

In '65, only 3 turned up to face him, and only one of those was given any chance whatsoever of beating him, and that was the blazing 2 miler Dunkirk, who fell and died a mile from home (with Arkle upsides at the time).

As a consequence, they decided on a system of penalties for the '66 KG in order to encourage other trainers to run their best horses against him. A horse who had won a race worth £5000 since 1964 (which, basically, meant Arkle), had a 21 lbs penalty, meaning he carried 12-7.

The next in the weights was Mill House on 11-10, because he had 10 lbs worth of penalties, then Woodland Venture on 11-7 (who won the Gold Cup in '67), down to Dormant on 11-0. As it happened, Mill House pulled a muscle on Christmas morning, and didn't run; and in the race itself, Arkle cracked a pedal bone, and was overhauled close home by Dormant (who he'd beaten by 2 fences the year before), and never ran again.

The betting forecast in the Kempton Park race card was:-
1/7 Arkle; 7/1 Mill House; 100-6 Woodland Venture and Dormant

(the card was printed before Mill House was withdrawn).
Report geordie1956 March 16, 2014 11:28 PM GMT
The more his achievements are discussed the more you realise how much better he was than any horse before .... or since - an absolute freak of nature
Report ged March 16, 2014 11:33 PM GMT
In the '65 KG, the betting was:-

1/7 Arkle; 7/1 Dunkirk; 25 Dormant; 100 Arctic Ocean.

When Dunkirk fell, commentator Peter O'Sullevan said "Arkle only has to jump now, he's the only one still running". In fact the other 2 were still going, but were 2 fences behind, and O'Sullevan corrected himself when he realised they were still going.

The distances were 'Distance; Distance'.

After crossing the line, Arkle kept galloping round the top bend, and down the back straight. Taaffe was trying to pull him up, and had to zig-zag round the first 2 fences down the back straight before getting Arkle down to a walk (and all that was after chasing and catching Dunkirk for the first 2 miles, and being ridden up the run-in to put in a good show for the crowd).
Report onlooker March 16, 2014 11:35 PM GMT
penzance     16 Mar 14 23:11

did'nt they change the h'capping system
because of Arkle?


In Ireland - for the Irish National

They produced TWO separate Handicaps ...

1 - If Arkle ran
2 - If Arkle did NOT rum.

Would not be needed nowadays - as we now have the 'long Handicap' system/option - whereby - If Arkle did not declare - then the Weights would simply  RISE  - with the 'Long Handicap horses' then being brought into the Handicap proper.

In Arkle's day - When the Handicapper was compiling the Handicap - (NO centralised RATINGS, to run off,  in those days) - and the handicapper got down to the bottom weight of 10 stone - then EVERYTHING left still UN-handicapped was given 10 stone ... as there was NO 'raising of the weights' in those days, either.... So a separate - or the forerunner of the 'Long Handicap' was created.
Report ged March 16, 2014 11:55 PM GMT
...and if you want an idea of Dunkirk's level of form at 2 miles...

In 1965, he won the Champion Chase. In the November, he won the Mackeson Gold Cup (now Paddy Power), then run over 2 miles, carrying 12-7 (setting a weight record for the race that can never now be broken) - the only horse who was within 2 stone of him in the handicap was Irish Imp on 11-12 - and he had started favourite for the '64 Champion Chase (but fell), and hadn't run since, coming into the Mackeson with form figures of 1111F/. Everything else that ran in the race was handicapped to carry 10-7 or less, except that The O'Malley had a 10 lb penalty which brought him up to 11-2 - he came in with form figures of 111-011.
Report ged March 17, 2014 12:10 AM GMT
Following the '65 KG, and bearing in mind the speed that Arkle had shown to run down Dunkirk after 2 miles, Tom Dreaper let the press know that he was considering running Arkle in the Champion Hurdle, as well as the Gold Cup the day after. The Sporting Life published the news on the front page one day in mid-January. Ladbrokes offered odds on him of 1-3 for the Gold Cup; 4-5 the Champion Hurdle; 5-4 the double. William Hill went Evens the Champion Hurdle. In the event, the plan was soon shelved as the Duchess (what a voice!) said she didn't want him having a hard race the day before attempting his 3rd Gold Cup.
Report salmon spray March 17, 2014 12:15 AM GMT
That would have been when Flyingbolt won the Champion Chase. Understandable that Dreaper never mind the owner would have not wanted to put the two together. Take out Flyingbolt and Arkle would have walked it.
Report onlooker March 17, 2014 12:20 AM GMT
The Duchess sounded as if she needed Gelding - for voice correction purposes.

Mind you - I felt like Gelding her - after her Last Suspect won the Grand National - beating Mr Snugfit .... ONLY having run an After-thought, when her shorter-priced horse had to be withdrawn, days before the race.

1985 Mr Snugfit:
Despite having to carry over a stone more than his allotted weight, Phil Tuck’s mount looked sure to justify heavy market support when jumping to the front two out.
Having made a mistake at the previous fence, Hywel Davies on the quirky 50-1 shot Last Suspect looked beaten. But after the last the enigmatic Last Suspect suddenly came alive and — tail flashing — caught Mr Snugfit in the final 40 yards. Cry
Report Cork Langer March 17, 2014 12:24 AM GMT
Money goes to money onlooker, the Duchess had her fair share and more, as well as good fortune when it came to horses.
Report salmon spray March 17, 2014 12:24 AM GMT
I watched that in Benidorm,with a Spanish commentary. Didn't know what had won it till the next day. How times change !
Report onlooker March 17, 2014 12:32 AM GMT
Last Suspect was the horse that nobody saw coming in the 1985 Grand National, given that he only got there due to the insistent begging of his jockey Hywel Davies, as his owner, the Duchess of Westminister didn’t actually initially want him (or any of her horses, including the great Arkle) to run in the National.

The brown gelding was moody, unreliable, disinterested and was known for pulling himself up in chases – which he demonstrated beautifully in his Warwick prep-race for the Grand National. Following this unruly performance both his owner and his trainer Tim Forster decided there and then that he should be withdrawn from the National.

Davies however had other ideas – he himself had been at death’s door in a crashing fall months earlier, and truly believed that the horse could win – he had never fallen in a race, had never unseated a jockey, and had great stamina, so on trying to convince Forster and failing, he then decided to telephone the Duchess herself.

Forster, though having already won the National twice with Well To Do and Ben Nevis and went on to receive an OBE in the 1999 New Year’s Honours List, was well-known for his pessimism, and although his owner may have conceded defeat to Davies, did not share any enthusiasm for Last Suspect’s National success.

Last Suspect was retired following his National victory, but his owner changed her mind, and he went back to Aintree.
He was never in contention in the race and it seemed that he had returned to his previous form of being reluctant to race, and was pulled up in the second circuit when he started labouring. This retirement was definitely his last!
Report deadbrain59 March 17, 2014 8:05 AM GMT
dreaper,said flying bolt would have been the better horse,brussillossis ended his career,11 straight wins as a novice,won irish national giving 2/12 st and 3 st, to 2nd and 3rd.CoolCoolGrinGrin
Report deadbrain59 March 17, 2014 8:06 AM GMT
arkle brilliant though.
Report brigust1 March 17, 2014 8:24 AM GMT
Onlooker I think the weights went down to 9st 7lb for races 3m and over. I don't know if apprentices claimed as well, I'm sure they must have done.

I was there when Dunkirk died and at Sandown. The thing is you don't realise at the time just how good he, Arkle, was. Only now seeing what other horses have done since can you really understand just how good he was.
Report EVILROYSLADE March 17, 2014 8:27 AM GMT
It's strange how we are always asking if indeed Arkle was the best. That is probably because he was. I say probably to allow those who may question his status their right to do so. I really want to say DEFINITELY the best. I saw him destroy top class horses who were in receipt of enormous weight concessions. To watch him live was nothing short of a breathtaking experience. I have never had that experience since. Some magnificent performances from great stars yes. Never anything to match though.
Report Ramruma March 17, 2014 8:43 AM GMT
@EVILROYSLADE -- It's strange how we are always asking if indeed Arkle was the best.

Accepting Arkle was the best does not necessarily mean accepting he was a stone and a half clear of everything else, past, present or future, aside from his own stablemate.
Report ged March 17, 2014 9:22 AM GMT
Yes, weights went down to 9-7.

Here's the finishing order, with weights, for the 1965 Whitbread:-

1. Arkle 8-12-7
2. Brasher 9-10-0 (7ex)
3. Willow King 10-9-7
4. Rough Tweed 11-9-7
5. Persian Signal 8-9-7
6. Sign Post 9-9-10 (3oh)
7. Over Court 9-10-0 (7ex)

SP; 4/9 Arkle; 5 Rough Tweed; 8 Brasher; 25 Over Court, Willow King, Persian Signal; 33 Sign Post

Distances: 5, 20, 5, 8, 20

Both Flyinghbolt and Arkle were entered for the 1966 Irish Grand National. Arkle was set to give Flyingbolt 4 lbs. In the event, Arkle didn't run in it, so it was left to Flyingbolt to give 3 stone to his rivals, which he did. Perhaps he was uplifted a couple of pounds for that, leading to the 2 lbs diff in their ratings. (Timeform published NH ratings from the early 60s, in their Black Book).
Report Ramruma March 17, 2014 9:26 AM GMT
OBVIOUS QUESTION but maybe silly as no-one else has asked it.

Where does Arkle's 212 rating come from? Was it the Black Book of [insert date here]?
Report brigust1 March 17, 2014 9:32 AM GMT
I don't know if you read my earlier posts Ramruna but Arkle earned his rating on the racecourse along with every other horse including Mill House.
That is not what happens today. Horses who cannot win off their rating move into Group races and end up with a higher rating which is mad. If a horse cannot win off his rating in handicaps how can he be rated higher? There are any number of examples like Somersby etc. How can a horse be rated 170 yet fail to win or struggle to win off 155? It's gravy for the ratings guys but meaningless and unprovable, unlike in Arkle and Dessie's day.
Report ged March 17, 2014 9:33 AM GMT
Brasher had won the Scottish Grand national a fortnight earlier carrying 10-5. Fort Leney had top weight with 12-7 - he was the 2nd highest rated Irish chaser at the time (also trained by Tom Dreaper, and went on to win a Gold Cup), but he pulled himself up 3 miles having been going easily in 2nd place at the time. Pat Taaffe had no explanation for it. It was the last time the race was run at Bogside.
Report Ramruma March 17, 2014 9:38 AM GMT
@brigust1 -- yes, saw your post but I was asking where the 212 rating was first published.
Report ged March 17, 2014 9:49 AM GMT
Ramruma - the 212 came from Timeform's rating for him for the 1965-66 season. Similarly, they gave Flyingbolt 210 for the same season.

They gave Mill House 191 for the 1963-64 season.
Report Ramruma March 17, 2014 9:55 AM GMT
@ged --- where were these season ratings published? Chasers & Hurdlers would not exist for another 10 years.
Report ged March 17, 2014 9:58 AM GMT
Ramruma - as above (my 09:22 post), their NH Black Books.
Report Outpost March 17, 2014 10:15 AM GMT
one thing that needs to be taken into account is that, unlike today, most of the opposition were not bred for speed.

most chasers were not fast enough to get near a racecourse until they had developed into big heavy plodders suitable for long distance chases.
they were "stores" who were put away until they were 7, 8 or 9 when they were considered ready to race. 

although this shouldn't detract from arkle's achievements, it does put into perspective why fast horses like arkle and flyingbolt were so far ahead of these slow stayers both in ratings and in races.
Report salmon spray March 17, 2014 10:18 AM GMT
The weights in GB only went down to 9-7 in races over 3m4f and at that time claims could not be made in big handicaps like the Hennessy and the Whitbread ( That changed in the 70s except of course for the GN where it still applies ).
Report ged March 17, 2014 10:26 AM GMT
Outpost - your post doesn't really square with the facts.

Golden Miller was 5yo when he won his first Gold Cup.

6yo's won the Gold Cup in 1947 (Fortina), 1952 (Mont Tremblant) and 1963 (Mill House).

The only 6yo to win the race since then is Long Run.
Report salmon spray March 17, 2014 10:30 AM GMT
There were also French breds around at the time. Cazalet had quite a lot,Makaldar and Laffy were two.
Report ged March 17, 2014 10:35 AM GMT
In fact Tom Dreaper probably took his time with horses more than any British trainer of the time, so how come he had so much success in the 2 mile Champion Chase (winning it 6 times between 1960 and 1970) - and dominated steeplechasing with the likes of, not just Arkle and Flyingbolt, - but Prince Regent, Fortria, Straight Fort, Fort Leney, and others).

Fulke Walwyn, renowned as a trainer of staying chasers, had plenty of success with Sempervivum as a 2-mile hurdler (who was flat bred and ran in the St Leger).

Cottage Rake, who won the Gold Cup 3 times from 1948-50, was trained for speed like all Vincent O'Brien's horses - and was renowned for his finished burst, and won the Irish Nov hcap at 12f.
Report ged March 17, 2014 10:36 AM GMT
*finishing burst
Report brigust1 March 17, 2014 11:30 AM GMT
Outpost to suggest these horses were plodders is silly. There were only two possibilities at the time, flat or jumping. Two clearly defined seasons and no AW or AW training grounds.  If you had a jumping bred horse he couldn't run over the jumps until he was 4 anyway so they brought them along slowly. The jumps were stiffer as well so strength was important as well as speed. Don't forget Mill House won the Gold Cup when he was 6 and Long Run is the only horse since to do that. Arkle won it when he was 7. They were not plodders or slow by any means.
Report iamajambo March 17, 2014 12:24 PM GMT
This thread has been a great read.Whilst I never saw the great horse in the flesh I can certainly remember many of his televised races.

As an aside,I'd had assumed that his name had Irish connotations but was in fact Scottish.The Duchess had a home on an island in a loch in the Western Highlands which was overlooked by 3 mountain peaks named Arkle,Foinavon(no typo there)and another with a gaelic name which I can't remember.
The Duchess had at one time owned Foinaven.Anyway,I once had a share in an unnamed Ragegoers Club horse for which syndicate members were invited to name.I suggested the name of the third mountain peak on the basis that 'it might be lucky'.It wasn't chosen and the horse was useless but if your interested in a lucky name get yourself an Ordinance Survey map of the area.Silly
Report blackbarn March 17, 2014 12:31 PM GMT
Isnt the other peak Ben Stack?
Report iamajambo March 17, 2014 12:42 PM GMT
The location is a fair way from Ben Stack(though I think that Ben Stack is visible from it).It has one of the unpronounceable gaelic names like those that the Irish give to their horses.Somewhere or other I've got the relevant map but goodness knows where.

Did the Duchess also own Ben Stack?
Report blackbarn March 17, 2014 12:57 PM GMT
Do you mean Quinag?   and yes, the Duchess did own Ben Stack - won at two separate festivals I think. One might have been the NH Chase.
Report salmon spray March 17, 2014 1:02 PM GMT
Yes I am pretty sure she did or had.
Ben Stack was the same age as Arkle,Mill House and a 2 miler called Irish Imp,who like Mill House was trained by Walwyn. It's practically forgotten now but their clash in the Champion Chase was looked forward to almost as much as The Big One as both looked exceptional. Ben Stack won that for Ireland as well but neither did much afterwards and their memory has been eclipsed by Dunkirk ( yet another one of the same vintage ) who won it by 20L the following year.
Report salmon spray March 17, 2014 1:03 PM GMT
No way ben stack won the NH Chase blackbarn. He was a two miler.
Report iamajambo March 17, 2014 1:04 PM GMT
Found it.Creag Dionard(2554 feet),Arkle(2580) and Foinaven(2980),for whom I got the spelling wrong in my original post.Ben Stack(2364) is the closest of the lot to the Duchess's home but my excuse is that it was about 25 years since I last was there and half of the time I can't remember what I did yesterday.
Report blackbarn March 17, 2014 1:16 PM GMT
Correct Salmon! - won the Champion Chase and the Cotswold as it was then.
Report Cork Langer March 17, 2014 1:17 PM GMT
Ben Stack was part of one of the recent quiz questions of Arkle winners to go on and win the Champion Chase, the years were 1963 & 1964
Report salmon spray March 17, 2014 1:21 PM GMT
Wasn't the Arkle in 1963,but I know what you mean.
Report Cork Langer March 17, 2014 1:26 PM GMT
blackbarn said it earlier, was the Cotswold
Report salmon spray March 17, 2014 1:28 PM GMT
Right. I was getting the Cotswold mixed up with the Cathcart tbh
Report blackbarn March 17, 2014 1:33 PM GMT
Salmon - re your earlier post.  I am sure I saw Makaldar win at Plumpton.  Seems surprising, before the days of bonus races of course. Queen Mothers horse wasn't it
Report ged March 17, 2014 1:33 PM GMT
Robin Cook was climbing Ben Stack when he had a heart attack and died.

I had a go at scrambling up the side of Foinaven - it wasn't pleasant - very loose rock. Arkle's slopes are almost pure scree from some angles, though I think there is a winding walk to the top. Wainwright produced a book with drawings of the mountains - probably from photgraphs - he writes in it that "Arkle was the better horse, but Foinaven was the better mountain". It's very wild country - there are lots a little lochans round about. I saw a couple of red-throated divers on one of them once.

There used to be someone called 'Assessor' on here, who knew the area well - I think he worked on the estate.

The name Arkle may mean either 'ark mountain' or 'whale mountain', from old Scandinavian words.

Foinavon was bought by Tom Dreaper for the Duchess as a 3yo. He ran 22 times for her, winning three. He really was a plodder. He was sent to the sales, where John Kempton bouught him. He ran in Arkle's final race, and finished 4th, a long way behind.
Report iamajambo March 17, 2014 1:35 PM GMT
Did the Duchess also own Ben More?
Report salmon spray March 17, 2014 1:37 PM GMT
Not sure Makaldar was the QM's. Laffy certainly was.
Report iamajambo March 17, 2014 1:42 PM GMT
Ooops,looks like I've got my Foinaven and Foinavon mixed up.
Report ged March 17, 2014 1:44 PM GMT
Makaldar was the QM's. He used to have battles with Sempervivum.
Report salmon spray March 17, 2014 1:47 PM GMT
Sempervivum separated me and Flyingbolt in the 1966 CH. Was trained by Walwyn as I think somebody said earlier.
Report ged March 17, 2014 1:49 PM GMT
Yes he was a favourite of mine when I was a kid. Never quite managed to win one of the big hurdle prizes, but went close several times. He ran in in the 1961 St Leger when trained in France, and was still going over hurdles age 10, so he was a tough little thing.
Report ged March 17, 2014 1:51 PM GMT
He headed the weights for the Schweppes Hurdle in 1968, as a 10yo, with 12-2. Persian War (5yo) won it with 11-13.
Report blackbarn March 17, 2014 1:53 PM GMT
and Makaldar was second to Saucy Kit in the following years Champion Hurdle on a disq. I think
Report ged March 17, 2014 2:11 PM GMT
Sempervivum ran 3rd in that Schweppes. Persian War's 11-13 is still a record weight for the winner of that race. There were some grand old names further down the big field that day (there were 34 down to run in the morning) - Hill House (carrying 12-1), Major Rose (2nd, carrying 11-8)), Kirriemuir (11-8), Even Keel (11-9), Indamelia, 5yo Spanish Steps, Specify, and the WA pair Celtic Gold and Supermaster.
Report salmon spray March 17, 2014 2:17 PM GMT
Better than most Champion Hurdles. At least 4 became good class STAYING chasers btw.
Report blimey March 17, 2014 7:41 PM GMT
Hi Ged, interesting stuff. My Dad sent me a text from Ben Stack, it can only have been minutes before he died, saying: "Am at top of Ben Stack. Arkle and Foinaven can't be seen for mist - weather foul.  Wish you were here"

FWIW, it was m'colleague Greg Wood who made that point about Arkle and Flyingbolt:
Report blimey March 17, 2014 7:42 PM GMT
I should add that, unlike me, Dad would undoubtedly have spelt Foinavon right at the first attempt
Report ged March 17, 2014 8:48 PM GMT
blimey - thanks for that. Sorry about your dad - a great loss to many. And apologies for mixing you up with Greg Wood, who I usually find myself strongly agreeing with.
Report brigust1 March 17, 2014 10:43 PM GMT
Some of Phil Smith's comments amaze me. I presume the King George he referred to was the race he beat Madison de Berlais and Barbers Shop. MDB never won another race and Barbers only won a couple of hunter chases ffs. The Hennessy MDB won he beat Air Force One who gave him weight and the only race he won subsequently was a handicap off 120. Of course KS did beat Long Run in the KG by less than 2 lengths and he is rated in the 160's now. How KS was awarded 193 is a mystery to me. He was beaten by Imperial Commander who won a handicap off 130 odd then went up 4 stone in the ratings. It is proof that the handicappers blind faith is always upwards. If a 120 horse beats a 140 horse they raise the 120 horse where in fact the 140 horse is over rated in the first place.
Report SoYouThink March 17, 2014 11:24 PM GMT
I'd be a bit suspicious so many great sport stars came along at the dawn of the television age. You had Arkle, Ali, Pele, the great Brazil team, Mick O'Connell, etc. I think the availability of these guys in people's sitting rooms added a little bit of romance to their story.
Report onlooker March 17, 2014 11:38 PM GMT
^ an excellent observation - and point well made - SeeYouThink
Report brigust1 March 18, 2014 9:31 AM GMT
Quite the opposite. It probably only proves there may have been better before TV whereas every man and his dog can now stand up and be counted by everyone. Ali was and is the greatest boxer. Pele was brilliant and that was at a time when footballers had no problem playing the man, not like the namby pamby's of today. (Personally I preferred George Best btw). And I'm certain the Brazilian football team didn't win their matches only because they were on TV. I suggest you look at the TV coverage and then try saying who was better than any of the above.
I hadn't heard of Mick O'Connell until today.
Report engineer March 18, 2014 10:54 AM GMT
I don't think there is a problem with Arkle. Like I said he still holds the 3m 1/2f record over the difficult Sandown course. Just think of all the good horses in the past 47 years that have not matched his time. Even those that go close would not have carried 12 7. Also timing was accurate enough in those days so there is no issue there. And they made the railway fences easier since. the thing is its difficult to accept that an animal from 50 years ago being the best so far, but its true. The improvement in performance in the animal kingdom is not as fast as we like to think. For example look up when the first sub 10 sec 100m was run. the record now is about 9.6 so its gone down 0.1 sec about every 10 years. Its no that there won't be another Arkle its just that we have not seen it yet.
Report brigust1 March 18, 2014 11:19 AM GMT
It is a good point Engineer but you must remember how much the 100m scene has changed. The huge introduction of African and Afro/Americans to start with has transformed it. Added to that Roger Bannister was an amateur running in spikes on a cinder track. Now everyone in the world runs in it yet I think the two fastest both come from Jamaica.
Horses have been slower to improve, if they have, and the courses and course management has been much better. Racing is much more parochial and you may find that introducing more non Group 1 horses into the gene pool would weaken the breed. Apparently the Americans are having hug problems in soundness etc for that reason. I think it was Vincent O'Brien who warned about these issues many years ago.
I believe Arkle's rating is far more likely to be correct than Kauto Stars. Timeform were able to test their ratings in almost every big race because they were handicaps. If they rated a hose too highly it would quickly become apparent. There is no way KS's rating could be tested because PN wouldn't run him in a handicap off his rating. That tells me he didn't think he could win off it. Arkle had to do just that every season and more than once.
Report zipper March 18, 2014 12:35 PM GMT
ged post   17 march 09.22 is spot on
the problem with  Arkle   he was a freak  . the likes we will never see again
he was  the only horse in the history of the game   .. too have 2 handicaps  one if he ran  and another if he did not run
Why he was 3 stone better than the rest at that time
Report iamajambo March 18, 2014 12:48 PM GMT
It seems so obvious now but why didn't they have a single handicap and the raising the weights system that we have now? I can recall Freddie carrying the top weight of 10.04 in the Great Yorkshire Chase(one of the major handicaps in those days)after Arkle wasn't declared to run.
Report The Sawyer March 18, 2014 12:58 PM GMT

By your inference, Jezki is the best 2 mile hurdler ever, closely followed by MTOY - Vatour even held that spot for just over an hour.
Report Ramruma March 18, 2014 1:06 PM GMT
It seems so obvious now but why didn't they have a single handicap and the raising the weights system that we have now?
Report Ramruma March 18, 2014 1:18 PM GMT

It seems so obvious now but why didn't they have a single handicap and the raising the weights system that we have now?

Perhaps it was rare to have such a gulf in ability that it mattered.

Remember too there are problems with the current system. What we have now is a centralised, running, free handicap whereas back then the weights would be set on a race by race basis by an individual handicapper. (And this is separate from the question of the long handicap.) The "free" part (ie not tied to any particular race) might be the biggest problem with that, since it means a horse would run off the same mark regardless of the distance -- a problem only officially recognised in the Grand National (and unofficially exploited by Sir Mark Prescott).
Report katverrat March 18, 2014 2:24 PM GMT
having read the whole of this thread (some excellent observations throughout) a real defining moment was the 1965 Whitbread(Gallagher) when Arkle gave 16lbs and a 24 length beating to a 193 rated Gold Cup winner (who earlier was been touted as the best ever)

Now you may consider Mill House was in decline (but won a Whitbread after) - but it is possible Arkle was progressing - 212 is possibly short on what he achieved that day.
Report salmon spray March 18, 2014 2:47 PM GMT
Arkle won the Whitbread and the Gallagher in 1965 but they were different races in different seasons. It was the Gallagher run in late 1965 where he beat Mill House by the distance given above ( Rondetto was 2nd 20L behind Arkle ).Mill House didn't run in the 1965 Whitbread. In 1964 he finished 2nd trying to give 3st to the very useful Dormant. If anything that was the race that broke him rather than his clashes with Arkle.
Report zipper March 18, 2014 3:02 PM GMT
Ok you guys old enough   a least 70 years young  it could be true  and it could be Irish Blaney ..
Tom Dreaper  had both Arkle  and The unbeatean Flying Bolt ..on his death bed some wag  asked  why did you not run Flying Bolt against  the Mighty Arkle  to see who was the best 
Tom said  well i did not want to see Arkle Beat .. Devil
Report Fallen Angel March 18, 2014 3:29 PM GMT
There is no way KS's rating could be tested because PN wouldn't run him in a handicap off his rating. That tells me he didn't think he could win off it. Arkle had to do just that every season and more than once.

Sorry this is just pushing at the edge of reason. The pure and simple reason for not running Kauto in a handicap is "what would be the point" when he can collect £100k for winning the betfair, £1m bonus etc. He had no need to run in handicaps, apart from the Hennessey all the money for his distance is in Grade 1s of which there are plenty.
Report Ramruma March 18, 2014 3:37 PM GMT
Paul Nicholls said many times that Kauto Star is not big enough to give away weight, and contrasted him with Desert Orchid and Denman.
Report ged March 18, 2014 3:48 PM GMT
The 'point' would be to establish just how good he is/was. The owner didn't need the money. He wanted the pleasure and the glory of watching his outstanding chaser win the top races - understandably - but most of the racing world would like to have known just how good he was - and we don't. Paul Nicholls, plus many of his fans, reckon he was at least as good as Arkle. Hen Knight thought the same of Best Mate, but if anybody said 'prove it, by running in the Hennessey, and giving weight to handicappers according to the ratings difference' - none of them want to take up the challenge (in my opinion, largely for fear of their horse being proven not to be as good as they want to think they are. Best Mate was beaten in a handicap off 169 - Hen Knight thought the handicapper had been unfair to raise him to that mark after winning an uncompetitive race at Exeter). It's a sport, and people still talk about Arkle because he took on, and usually succeeded in, massive tasks. Winning 5 KGs proved a lot, and was a magnificent testimony to the horse and trainer, but it didn't prove he was a better horse than if he'd won 3 KGs and packed it in.

Where's the sport in beating, again, the same horses under the same conditions?
Report blackbarn March 18, 2014 3:49 PM GMT
zipper - that deathbed Dreaper story is a myth.
Report salmon spray March 18, 2014 4:01 PM GMT
It is true that there were very few w-f-a races of any value for non-novices in the 60s. The Hennessy and the Whitbread were pretty much on a par in importance with the Gold Cup and were more valuable and prestigous than the King George,which was an allowance race then.
Report blackbarn March 18, 2014 4:11 PM GMT
True Salmon!   I touched on this earlier in the fred. Handicaps were big money (comparatively)
1965 Winning Prizemoney

Whitbread £8230
Cheltenham Gold Cup £8042
Hennessy £7099
King George £4634
Report ged March 18, 2014 4:11 PM GMT
Yes that's very true. There cannot now be big field handicaps which have a bunch of top class horses at the top of the weights, as there were in the early runnings of the Hennessey, Whitbread, Mackeson, and Schweppes Hurdle. Pity, as there's nothing to beat that kind of race, imo.
Report zipper March 18, 2014 4:11 PM GMT
blackbarn  .. i werent there   nither was you ..but its a good story
Report ged March 18, 2014 4:14 PM GMT
Perhaps they could get Phil Smith to compress the weights for the Hennessey and 'Whitbread'. Is there a good reason not to?
Report zipper March 18, 2014 4:18 PM GMT
were it all went wrong  The BHB/ Jokey Club  sold out to the bookies
what we got now  mickey mouse racing on the sand ..
the books  class horse they have no interest.. every betting  stays open  with th BOTS  and cartoon racing
Report brigust1 March 18, 2014 4:19 PM GMT
In fact the Grand National is slowly going in the 'class' direction where better quality horses race for good prize money over easier fences.
And I agree there was no need for KS to run in handicaps but I believe the only true way to test a rating is to run of it. That's what Arkle did and that is what Dessie did. Hence their ratings were proven.
Report brigust1 March 18, 2014 4:24 PM GMT
Phil Smith thinks this latest method of handicapping is the right one. He celebrates at Cheltenham when two horses fight out a close finish slapping himself on the back. Thinking how clever he is. What is ignored is the 18 other runners he got wrong in the same race. The handicappers want to think they are involved when the best ever horses were running and don't like to think otherwise.
Report blackbarn March 18, 2014 4:34 PM GMT
I saw himself twice in the flesh (aged 13).  Never spoke to Mr Dreaper though.  It IS a good story but doesn't seem to appear anywhere though apart from on here. There's a good Pat Taaffe "comparision" comment that is true thoughWink
Report zipper March 18, 2014 4:35 PM GMT
brigust1  Phill Smith  is the best H/Capper the  BHB ever had
why  its fair to say  if i fell over him in Morrison well we never meet
but this guy is the best / i do my own H/C ratings  and we are never  say 3lbs apart .. whats 3lbs    on the jumps  say 1 lenghts
Report blackbarn March 18, 2014 4:35 PM GMT
Below meant for Zippers Myth commentWink
Report zipper March 18, 2014 4:52 PM GMT
blackbarn   fair Q  were you there dad was
Report Andrew in Sweden March 18, 2014 6:18 PM GMT
Kauto Star actually ran in 3 handicaps (albeit limited), winning 1 and finishing 2nd twice
Report sixtwosix March 18, 2014 6:43 PM GMT
Kauto Star never ran in top handicaps carrying huge weights ......but why would he ?

With the modern race season and his ability to win at 2 miles as well there was plenty of big prizes championships  evenly spread through the season.

Betfair Chase(new race worth a packet) , Tingle Creek , King George VI , Gold Cup .

And as his jockey pointed out in comparing him with  the other greats , he outlasted the lot of them (with the pre war exception on Golden Miller).
Report onlooker March 18, 2014 6:49 PM GMT
engineer     18 Mar 14 10:54
'..........  For example look up when the first sub 10 sec 100m was run. the record now is about 9.6 so its gone down 0.1 sec about every 10 years. Its no that there won't be another Arkle its just that we have not seen it yet.

Very, very, much - DOUBT IT.

The comparison is flawed - because ...

In Arkle's day - the Average height of a man was around 5ft 8/9inches.
Anybody who was a '6-footer' really was TALL.

Nowadays - even 14 yr-old girls can be 6ft 2ins

HORSES, though - were on average, probably, 16 hands in Arkle's day -
- are STILL 16 hands TODAY - and will, more than probably...
- STILL be 16 hands in 50 years time, too.

Meanwhile -14 yr-old girls will, possibly, be pushing 6ft 6ins, by thenHappy

Just look at how low the doorways are in those old, preserved, buildings - some, 5ft Maximum.

Nowadays - they have had to start making longer beds for teenagers -
and everyday shoe sizes, in the shops, have increased to what were previously only hand-made sizes.

Whilst HORSES remain roughly the SAME size.
Report salmon spray March 18, 2014 7:19 PM GMT
Mill House was 17 hands and a bit
Arkle was comfortably over 16 hands.
Report sixtwosix March 18, 2014 7:28 PM GMT
I think you will find the decreases in the world 100 metres times is as much a result of technology as anything else. The newly laid tracks are much faster than in previous era.
Report Fallen Angel March 18, 2014 8:00 PM GMT
perfectly acceptable to assume that training methods, horses diet etc have improved significantly in the 40 years as have those in other athletic discipline. Also from a welfare point of view less owners view it as acceptable to force a horse to punt a huge weight round in a handicap compared to running off levels in a Graded race. Again with times it makes no sense comparing one era with another. When would you ever get a fast ground festival now with all the talk about animal welfare. You barely ever get a jumps race run on firm for fear of injury and probably quite rightly. Like comparing apples and grapefruits trying to compare racing in the 1960's to today. I can accept Arkle was great in his own era as Kauto was in his. Everything else is just circumstantial.
Report engineer March 18, 2014 9:25 PM GMT
The point I was making about the 100m times was to point out how little fundamental human performance has improved over the years. Its hardly changed at all because as some have pointed out its technology, tracks etc. I think its probably the same with horses-they have not actually improved very much. I think we expect and perceive improvement that is not really happening because of all the changes driven by technology which are clearly vast. That makes it difficult to think that a horse from 50 years ago could be better than todays best. But have a look at Sugar Ray Robinson on you tube and think if he would be a match for todays fighters. He looks like he might be which is kind of counter intuitive because as someone else pointed out people are bigger and presumably healthier. So really there have been standout performers throughout history whose achievements have not been exceeded for many years. After all we had to wait for Einstein to prove that Newton was slightly incorrect - although I agree some others had suspected it before that. So thats what Arkle was, he was the Newton of horse racing and we are now awaiting Einstein.
Report salmon spray March 18, 2014 10:11 PM GMT
Boxers aren't heavier,except for heavyweights. Or they shouldn't be but for the jiggery-pokery that goes on in the weigh-in.
Report Hotfoot March 20, 2014 9:41 PM GMT
Arkle was not pampered, the likes of Best Mate, didn’t run a lot, Kauto swerved the handicaps, he took it all and ran often, it was the handicapper that killed him.!arkle/cwyq
Report JackQueen March 21, 2014 6:47 PM GMT
As the original poster, I want to apologise for seemingly disappearing from the thread but I work all week and don't have the time to visit the forum until the weekend.

The thread has turned into a cracking read, especially the contributions from those who were around in the mid 60s.

Someone mentioned a while back on this thread that the problem can only be with the 212, 210 figures and I agree. I have no issue accepting both horses were champions but both to be so far ahead of anything that has raced since? It just doesn't ring true with any sort of credibility.

If Arkle went through his career unbeaten then a different view could be taken but he did lose at times, albeit conceding lumps of weight, which suggests he was not as far ahead as Timeform make out. The horses who carried no weight against Arkle's hefty weights surely were not themselves rated in the 180s? They would need to be to justify the 212 mark.

I just wish we had access to the form from that time.
Report JackQueen March 21, 2014 6:56 PM GMT
Plus my main problem, as stated in my initial posting is with Flyingbolt. Even if the Arkle situation was absolutely true, what are the chances that Flyingbolt was just 2lbs behind and still about 25lbs and more better than everything else then and since?

My tiny brain cannot comprehend this.
Report paulo47 March 21, 2014 7:53 PM GMT
A few years ago my horse was shod (not very well) by Mill House's farrier , he also mentioned he shod Arkle one day at Newbury when he lost a shoe . But one thing he also said was that Fulke Walwyn was a broken man when A beat MH for the first time , he saw MH as absolutely unbeatable.I also saw him run (100/30 Dunkirk in a fiver ), I have no problem with the ratings and my favourite stories are Anne d of W riding him bareback during his summer hols , and the photo of the 2 or 3 year old child on his back , lead rope and headcollar , with crowds mobbing him . Pat Taffe also tells of the one and only schooling session Arkle and Flyingbolt did together , ' explosive ' and they were never allowed to be schooled together again .
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