Timeform; Melbourne Cup Carnival, Magic Millions 2022 and more!

Curated by Tanita Vella

Thanks to the curiosity of the eccentric genius Phil Bull in 1948, a man who I'm sure we would all choose in the dinner go-to activity, 'name four people you'd like to take to dinner', we have an international metric available with the founding objective; to establish a mathematical link to a horse's performance - the Timeform Rating.

What is a Timeform Rating? It's afforded to a horse based on the calculation of the time-value of a certain performance taking into account the layout of the track, weather, prevailing track surface, with the calculation of the Rating based on Admiral Rous's Weight-For-Age scale (more about this to come).

The Timeform rating also took into account the age of the horse and the time of the year, this meant that the performances, regardless of age, were of equal merit.

Like the Pattern, an international language for Black Type racing ensuring pedigrees from around the world can be interpreted and of equal merit, a Timeform Rating holds the same objective of being able to assess a horse's performance through a standardised calculation.

Similarly, Admiral Rous's Weight-For-Age principle was devised by the handicapper of the English Jockey Club in 1850 to create a relationship between age and maturity expressed in weight terms, a principle utilised globally for races such as the G1 Cox Plate, G1 July Cup, G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, G1 Japan Cup and more.

The WFA Scale has changed considerably since its inception, however, the principle remains consistent; to provide an allowance to younger horses given their physical immaturity so that they can compete ‘equally’ with fully mature horses over various distances and at different times of the year.

The eccentric genius, Phil Bull | Image courtesy of Bluebloods

With this, we thought we would delve in and analyse the recently concluded Melbourne Cup Carnival week to see who was Timeform Rated what:

  • Highest Timeform Rated performance of the week: Nature Strip's G1 Darley Sprint Classic victory saw him awarded 128.
  • How did Verry Elleegant's G1 Melbourne Cup win stack up? Rated 127 and only bettered four times in the modern Melbourne Cup (post-1993), that's 28 years or bettering 23 other Cup winners - impressive.
    • Makybe Diva (129)
    • Saintly (128)
    • Protectionist (128)
    • Might And Power (128)
    • Verry Elleegant (127)
    • Americain (126)
  • Verry Elleegant's Melbourne Cup-winning Timeform Rating of 127 put her alongside champion mares as: 
    • Black Caviar (136)
    • Winx (134)
    • Sunline (129) 
    • Atlantic Jewel (128)
    • More Joyous (128)
    • Verry Elleegant (127)
Black Caviar (136) winning the G1 Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot

Extending our analysis to look at the top five winners of Australian sprint races for three-year-olds and up from the year the race held G1 status, excluding The Everest, and their peak career Timeform Ratings:

  • G1 TJ Smith Stakes (G1 from 2005): Black Caviar (136), Lankan Rupee (132), Nature Strip (129), Santa Ana Lane and Takeover Target (128).
  • G1 Newmarket Handicap (G1 from 1980, Timeform Ratings from 1998): Black Caviar (136), Hay List and Lankan Rupee (132), Weekend Hussler (130), Bivouac, Takeover Target, Scenic Blast (128).
  • G1 Darley Sprint Classic:(G1 from 1979, Timeform Ratings from 1997): Black Caviar (136), Nature Strip (129), Bivouac, Takeover Target, Terravista, Santa Ana Lane (128).
  • The Everest: Classique Legend (128), Nature Strip and Redzel (126), Yes Yes Yes (125)

Chris Waller was awarded Champion Trainer for 2020/21, so we thought we would analyse his all-time list: 

  • Winx (134) 
  • Nature Strip (129)
  • Reliable Man (128)
  • Verry Elleegant (127)
  • Sacred Falls (127)
  • The Autumn Sun, Brazen Beau, Boban, Rangirangdoo, Shoot Out (126)
  • Yes Yes Yes and Home Affairs (125)
Two of Chris Waller's Champion mares; Verry Elleegant (127) & Winx (134)

As the yearling sales for 2022 quickly approach, a look into stallions' peak Timeform Rating provides interesting insight. For the purposes of time and research, we've narrowed our sample to the 2022 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale and here are the top 10 Timeform Rated sires represented:

  1. 147:     Frankel (GB)
  2. 138:     American Pharoah (USA)
  3. 134:     Kingman (GB)
  4. 133:     Almanzor (FR), So You Think (NZ), Toronado (IRE)
  5. 132:     Harry Angel (IRE), Maurice (JPN)
  6. 130:     Frosted (USA)
  7. 129:     All Too Hard (AUS), Dundeel (NZ), Justify (USA), Ribchester (IRE)
  8. 128:     Adelaide (IRE), Foxwedge (AUS), Lonhro (AUS), Pierro (AUS), Starspangledbanner (AUS)
  9. 127:     Charm Spirit (IRE), Exosphere (AUS), Iffraaj (GB), Real Steel (JPN), Fastnet Rock (AUS), Flying Artie (AUS)
  10. 126:     Astern (AUS), Choisir (AUS), Churchill (IRE), Epaulette (AUS), Exceed And Excel (AUS), Merchant Navy (AUS), The Autumn Sun (AUS)

Interestingly, of the first-season sires represented at Magic Millions, Harry Angel rates three points ahead of his nearest rival.

Harry Angel (132), the highest-rated first-season sire at Magic Millions in 2022 | Watch: Stallion-making G1 July Cup

And below, the historical Timeform Ratings for many all-time greats from as far back as the 1950s, a nostalgic list for many admirers of these truly honest beasts.

  • Phar Lap (141)
  • Bernborough (138)
  • Tulloch (138)
  • Peter Pan (137)
  • Kingston Town (137)
  • Todman (136)
  • Vain (136)
  • Manikato (136)
  • Black Caviar (136)
  • Chatham (135)
  • Tobin Bronze (135)
  • Better Loosen Up (135)
  • Galilee (134)
  • Winx (134)
  • Might And Power (133)
  • So You Think (133)

List: courtesy of Racing&Sports' 'Historical Timeform Ratings (Australia from - 1950s)'