IT has become a pretty rare thing in racing that the anticipated event lives up to the actual contest. And more often than not, we don’t see champions truly tested. Sea The Stars’ Arc and Frankel’s Guineas and Juddmonte International were three in recent times that gave truely wow moments as Arazi’s Breeders’ Cup win had also done many years ago.

Happily that did occur last Saturday night when the starting gates opened for the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Life Is Good, a previous Breeders’ Cup winner and top-class miler, was committed to go and test Flightline.

The experts’ figures and calculations put exact numbers on the performance but a simple comparison of times can give you enough to appreciate it. Flightline won by eight and a quarter lengths, with 18 and a half lengths covering the field from the winner to the Grade 1 winner Happy Saver the last to finish.

The six-furlong time for Life Is Good in the Classic was 1m 09.27secs, compared to 1m 09.11 for Elite Power in the six-furlong sprint. That is moving along! The final time for Cody’s Wish in the Dirt Mile was 1m 35.33secs. Life Is Good went 1m 34.58 secs for that distance. Of course he wilted, Flightine didn’t. And he would have clocked under the two minutes if ridden out in the last half furlong. And if you saw the jockey cam footage, he went by Life Is Good galloping with his ears still forward, to the other horse’s ears back.

Rating figure

It wasn’t efficient running to go so fast so early but it mattered not, only in terms of needing to put a rating figure on it.

Timeform rated it below his Pacific Classic win. “The Pacific Classic took Flightline into new territory and his victory there earned a rating of 143 – the highest that Timeform has ever awarded to a North American-trained horse since they began covering racing more extensively in that jurisdiction in the early 1990s.” - Timeform Flat Editor David Johnston

The way Saturday’s race was run, the Classic’s eight-and-a-quarter-length record winning margin for the race earned him a Timeform rating of 136. He is 139 to Baaeed’s 134 to 135 in the World Best Racehorse Rankings.

Much has been made in terms of greatnesss that his career only spanned six races but in context, champion Europeans Sea-Bird and Sea The Stars only raced eight times each.

He goes to stud for $200,000, too valuable to race again, the large scar on his quarters and the fate of Epicenter in the Classic reminding how close triumph and disaster race together. The words of his trainer John Sadler are probably the best to sign off with. “He’s one of the best horses to ever look through a bridle. He’s just that good. He’s been brilliant. Brilliant is his normal. He didn’t disappoint. He never has.”