Flat out – huge winning streaks on the line at York this week
For any horse to win two races on the trot it is considered a laudable achievement, for a thoroughbred to extend a winning streak into double figures is the stuff of legend.
2019 has certainly been a year for legendary racehorses. Throughout the year racing fans have been treated to seeing their seemingly unbeatable heroes come back time and again to the winner’s enclosure. The remarkable Australian wonder mare Winx galloped into retirement with a world record 26th victory on the spin while Altior set a new world best for wins in succession over Jumps as he made it 19 out of 19 at Sandown Park.
This week sees the John Gosden-trained superstars Enable and Stradivarius look to continue that thread at York. Five-year-old mare Enable currently sits on an 11 strong streak after an epic King George win, while the indomitable Stradivarius aims to reach double figures in the Lonsdale Cup.
To help illustrate the truly rarefied times we live in, here’s how their respective unbeaten runs stack up against British Flat racing’s biggest winning streaks in the modern era. (The list only includes British-trained Flat racehorses after World War Two).
Stradivarius – 9
Stradivarius proved himself a top-class stayer as a three-year-old after a steady two-year-old campaign. In his first Group race he won the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot with a typical late surge and then followed up with an impressive performance in the Group 1 Goodwood Cup, beating two-time winner of the race Big Orange in the process.
As a four-year-old, Stradivarius went into a different stratosphere. A mixture of maturing over the winter and world-class handling by trainer in John Gosden saw Stradivarius become the Million Pound horse. Stradivarius landed the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million bonus after victories in the Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, the Qatar Goodwood Cup and the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup.
Quite incredibly Stradivarius looks set to win the Stayers’ Million once again with only the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York on Friday 23rd August to go. They say that you can’t improve on perfection but this year Stradivarius has been even better; looking peerless as he’s rattled off another sequence of wins.
Enable – 11
Arguably the greatest filly to have raced in the 21st century. Enable’s sole loss in her 13 race career came over two years ago at Newbury.
In her three-year-old season Enable quickly matured into a relentless winning machine, landing five Group Ones on the bounce. In her famous green, pink and white silks she ran out a wide-margin winner of the Investec Oaks, Irish Oaks, the King George at Ascot, Darley Yorkshire Oaks and the Prix De L’Arc de Triomphe.
The following season, typified her determination and will to win. After suffering an injury which left her out of action for 342 days, she won her warm-up race at Kempton before heading to Paris to defend her Arc crown.
Her mentality and physicality were truly tested to the limit, with the brave mare just managing to hold off the fast-finishing Sea Of Class to win by a neck. She then followed up with an even more impressive display in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs, Kentucky.
No less than eight previous winners of the Arc had been defeated in races at the Breeders Cup when lining up in the same season – but not Enable! She claimed victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf again showing that iron will to win by seeing off Magical in a ding-dong battle up the home straight.
Much to every racing fan’s delight, owners Juddmonte announced Enable would stay in training, and the superstar has not disappointed. After a fluent return in the Coral Eclipse, the Enable proved once again that she’s almost impossible to beat in a one-on-one battle when seeing off Crystal Ocean in King George at Ascot.
Enable now goes for the Yorkshire Oaks on Thursday 22nd August and it will be one of the shocks of the century if she loses; though her old rival Magical and last year’s St Leger runner-up Lah Ti Dar will not allow this to becomes a complete procession.
Frankel – 14
Considered by many in the racing world as the greatest horse to have ever set foot on the turf.
Frankel’s career summary is quite astonishing; 14 races unbeaten, 10 Group 1 wins and £2.9 Million in prize money. Frankel was out of the world, he destroyed the very best that European racing could throw at him time and time again.
Frankel’s sheer presence was so great he simply scared off many would-be opponents – in his second race there were just two other runners. On average, he faced 7 rivals per race but defeated 102 rivals overall. In the 2012 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood Frankel only faced three rivals and went off the shortest-priced runner in the race’s 140 year history at odds of 1/20.
Frankel was renowned for winning races by huge distances and making top-class horses in their own right look pedestrian – his career average winning margin was over 5 lengths.
The living legend retired in October 2012 after winning the Champion Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day and to stud.
Frankel’s trainer the late Sir Henry Cecil said “He is the best I have ever had, the best I have ever seen. I would be very surprised if there was ever a better horse”.
Brigadier Gerard – 15
The horse with the biggest winning streak in modern history is the legendary Brigadier Gerard. The horse know to his jockey Joe Mercer as ‘Big Fella’ finished with a final career scorecard of 18-1-0, his only career defeat coming in the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup (now the Juddmonte International) at York to Derby winner Roberto in 1972.
Unbeaten as a two-year-old in 1970, his biggest victory came in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket; before then wracking up a remarkable sequence of wins as a three-year-old taking in the 2000 Guineas, St. James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes, Goodwood Mile (now the Celebration Mile) and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile, before moving up in distance to win the Champion Stakes over 10 furlongs.
As a four-year-old he won a number of top races including the Lockinge Stakes, Prince of Wales’s Stakes and Eclipse Stakes.
At the end of his career, he was rated the best racehorse trained in Britain in the 20th century. He will always be remembered as one of the legends of our sport.