Was Frankel definitely the best of all time or did Brigadier Gerard do even more within his era to earn that crown? The jury’s out, says Julian Muscat
Brigadier Gerard’s origins
Bay colt, foaled 5 March 1968
By Queen’s Hussar out of La Paiva, by Prince Chevalier
Owner: Mr and Mrs John Hislop
Trainer: Major Dick Hern
Breeder: John Hislop
Jockey: Joe Mercer
Brigadier Gerard’s sire, Queen’s Hussar, was decidedly moderate: he stood at a fee of just £250 when his best son was conceived, but he also sired The Queen’s dual Classic heroine, Highclere. Brigadier Gerard’s dam, La Paiva, failed to win while her dam, Brazen Molly, cost John Hislop just 400gns at auction. Brigadier Gerard cut little ice as a stallion himself. His best runner was the 1980 St Leger winner Light Cavalry, also ridden by Joe Mercer.
Defeat is a dirty word in racing. It leaves a permanent stain, no matter how dominant any horse may have been throughout its distinguished career. When it comes to the “best of all time” debate, far better to retire unbeaten in the manner of Frankel.
Frankel has been described by turfistes with elephantine memories as the best they have seen. However, his 14 victories were all gained over a narrow range of distances – between seven and 10½ furlongs. His versatility was never properly tested.