Moment Of Magic That Crowned A Champion.
The unveiling of the International Classifications for last year saw an unprecedented honour for the five-year-old, who is rated just a pound behind the now-retired Skip Away, the American horse who topped the world rankings on a mark of 131.
Skip Away's final run was a disappointing effort behind Awesome Again in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, which leaves Intikhab as the No. 1 horse still in training.
He was rated 130, on the same mark as Awesome Again and ahead of Swain, who is on 129.
Other champions among the 900 horses from 14 nations classified by the world's handicappers include Dew-hurst winner Mujahid, named top two-year- old, and Mick Channon's Bint Allayl, who is top juvenile filly.
Desert Prince is rated top three-year-old, a pound ahead of the Derby winner High-Rise and Dr Fong, while Kayf Tara is champion stayer.
Intikhab's accolade is based on his devastating eight-length defeat of Among Men and a high-class field in the Group 2 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. After leaving David Morley at the end of his three-year-old
career, Intikhab ran three times last season. He finished second to Annus Mirabilis in Dubai before winning the Group 3 Diomed Stakes at Epsom in June and then spreadeagling his rivals in the Queen Anne.
A recurring splint problem prevented him from running again after June, but, with connections hoping he has put the injury behind him, a Group 1 victory will become the focus of the five-year-old's campaign this year.
Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said: "Intikhab is in training in Dubai and plans will be confirmed for him once he steps up a gear.
"His performance in the Queen Anne was mightily impressive and there was certainly no fluke involved. It was a display that stamped him as a really top-class performer."
Even though Desert Prince won three Group 1 races over a mile last season, handicapper Dominic Gardiner-Hill had no doubts about the superior rating given to Intikhab, who had finished on 111 a year earlier.
"Why knock it?" he asked. "His performance at Royal Ascot was better than the nearest equivalent, which was Desert Prince winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
"It is very hard to pick holes in the Queen Anne form and it was later upheld by Among Men in the Sussex Stakes to the ounce, not just to the pound. Intikhab beat a lot of Group 1 horses and there is no reason to knock him simply because he hasn't won or even run in a Group 1.
"The Queen Anne was up to Group 1 standard. There wasn't a top older miler from Europe missing from the race."
BHB senior handicapper Nigel Gray backed him up. "We are assessing performance not looking at the Group status of the race," he said. "Who's to say that Intikhab would not have won a Group 1 race had he had the chance?"
The Classifications acknowledged another successful year for Godolphin, who had 28 horses assessed.
Swain, whose year included a second King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Stakes victory, a second in the Dubai World Cup and third in the Breeders' Cup Classic, is rated a pound in front of Silver Charm, twice his conqueror on dirt.
Godolphin's other high achievers were the two-year-old colt Aljabr (119), the 1,000 Guineas winner Cape Verdi (120), St Leger winner Nedawi (117) plus Ascot Gold Cup and Irish St Leger winner Kayf Tara (120), who was named champion stayer.
All remain in training this year, and the team is bolstered by the addition of Derby winner High-Rise, plus the intake from David Loder, to fill the void left by the retired Swain.
Crisford reflected: "Swain was a fantastic horse and we will miss him a great deal. He was very nearly a champion on dirt as well as on turf.
"We have a strong team of older horses. Cape Verdi and Nedawi stay in training and Kayf Tara will be back to try and defend his Gold Cup crown.
"High-Rise has settled well in Dubai. He is entered in the Dubai World Cup and we will see how he comes along."
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||Jan 13, 1999|
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