Nihonpiro Ours: performance of the week came in the Japan Cup DirtPICTURE: Masakazu Takahashi
Frankel gone but plenty to look forward to
WORLD CLASS: an analysis of the international scene according to Racing Post Ratings
THE loss of the dizzying highs provided by Frankel will mean a radical comedown for British racing next season. His was a standard impossible to maintain.
Elsewhere in the world, however, the carryover is looking decidedly healthy, with the leading horses from France, Australia, America and Japan all set to race on in 2013.
The most notable retirements this term include Frankel, Excelebration, Nathaniel, So You Think, Solemia, I'll Have Another, Bodemeister and Union Rags, but there are still plenty of talented horses to look forward to.
Black Caviar has been out action for half the year after picking up an injury at Royal Ascot but she's also been picking up plenty of accolades from the sidelines.
She was a cover girl for Australian Vogue, she was crowned Victoria Racing "personality" of the year and, despite racing only once in Europe, she was named Cartier champion sprinter.
Her return to the track is expected in her own race, the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, at Flemington (16 February), a race she landed in 2011 and 2012.
Arch rival Hay List has also been sidelined through injury but he is on the mend after knee surgery and the Group 2 Challenge Stakes at Rosehill (30 March) has been pencilled for his return.
Atlantic Jewel was outstanding against her own age and sex in late 2011 and in early 2012 she maintained her unbeaten record with a couple of open victories, including the Group 1 All Aged Stakes.
It is not entirely certain whether she will be fit enough to race again, but with a little luck she'll be out to extend her winning streak in 2013.
Mental could be the Aussie to watch at Royal Ascot next year, when the improving gelding will join Godolphin in Newmarket. He will arrive in Europe via Dubai.
The highest rated horse expected to train-on next year is Cirrus Des Aigles, who achieved RPRs of 132 on his last two starts.
The six-year-old is set to run in the Hong Kong Cup on Sunday, where he has a huge class advantage, although the tight turns and typically slow pace have seen him finish no better than fifth on his last three visits to Sha Tin.
As a seven-year-old he may not be such a potent force next term, but he shouldn't need to be quite that good to run up another sequence of top-flight wins - and without Frankel in opposition he could be gunning for the top spot.
Aidan O'Brien will be hoping for Camelot to provide some competition for that top berth after confirming the wouldbe Triple Crowner will be back at four.
He was top of the crop in 2012, but the three-year-olds of Europe were beaten out of sight every time they took on the best older horses and without yet proving himself against his elders Camelot remains something of an unknown quantity.
He will probably be aimed at the early season O'Brien benefit races at the Curragh - the ones So You Think blew to bits in 2011 - the Mooresbridge Stakes and/or the Tattersalls Gold Cup. Easy victories there would be a nice starting point for the season and may give us better a guide to his ability.
Coolmore colleague St Nicholas Abbey will also be back for more at the age of six. He looked at least as good as ever this year and will likely target a similar run of races including the Dubai Sheema Classic, Coronation Cup and Breeders' Cup Turf.
Things didn't go to plan for Moonlight Cloud at the Breeders' Cup. In fact, she was disappointing, but she will be unstoppable back at Deauville.
She should again contest those 7f/1m 'Goldikova' races in France, with a bid for a hat-trick in the Prix Maurice De Gheest probably top of the agenda.
The Breeders' Cup, Cox Plate, Champion Stakes and Arc rank as potential targets for superstar globetrotter Snow Fairy. The five-year-old posted a career best RPR of 126 for her Irish Champion Stakes success over Nathaniel before her season was cut short.
She's won top-level races in Britain, Ireland, France, Hong Kong and Japan and she clearly has the ability and finishing speed to spread her wings again in 2013 - providing she fully recovers from the heat in her foreleg which ruled her out of the Arc.
So long as the Cologne training centre transport ban is lifted in January, Danedream may return for just one more run (Dubai Sheema Classic, 30 March) before beginning her breeding career with a visit to Frankel.
Nothing ever retires in Japan - the prize-money is just too good. As such, every horse we came to admire this year will be back for more in 2013.
Top of the bill is Orfevre. The highly-talented excuse machine ranks as the highest-rated middle-distance performer in the world this year with an RPR of 129, although he managed just one top-level win.
He's a headstrong colt and connections tried last week to get him to finish his race without using the whip. That resulted in him running in a straight line, which was a step in the right direction, but the project is far from complete.
The way he cruised to the front in the Arc, even in such a weak renewal, showed just how much class resides in that chestnut frame and if his trainer can harness and direct that power by working on the psychological element, he might fulfil that mighty promise in 2013.
Gentildonna, also owned by Sunday Racing, looks set to be one of Orfevre's leading rivals next term.
She got the better of him in a stretch duel for the Japan Cup, turning in a performance which marked her out for some lofty world targets.
She has run just twice over 1m4f and looked world class on both occasions. Her trainer mentioned Dubai, the Arc and America as potential targets.
Gold Ship ranks as the leading three-year-old colt in Japan and he, just like I'll Have Another and Camelot, was another who might have won a triple crown this year.
He was a convincing winner of the Satsuki Sho (2000), he stayed on best in a muddling renewal of the Tokyo Yushun (Derby) and then outclassed them again in the Kikuka Sho (St Leger).
He doesn't yet have form against his elders but he is scheduled to run in the Arima Kinen (23 December) which will give us a better idea of his upper limit.
Wise Dan could be set for another low-key start in 2013. The highest rated horse in America for the last two seasons started 2012 in a Grade 3 on the Polytrack and that looks the plan again next term.
The versatile gelding broke the track record when running away with the Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland in April before running up a string of higher grade successes which could see him crowned Horse of the Year. Time to raise his sights? No, back to Keeneland for an April start.
As a gelding, it is unnecessary for connections to build up his profile and scrabble for black-type, and with big prizes on offer in races Wise Dan could win in a canter, like the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap, there are other lucrative options available.
Given his versatility there are any number of routes available to Wise Dan. Dirt, turf, synthetics, at home or overseas. One can only hope he is given a challenge or two along the way, although he's set to be geared toward an end-of-season campaign and will probably stay at home throughout.
Fort Larned and Mucho Macho Man posted career best RPRs to finish six-and-a-half lengths clear of Flat Out in the Breeders' Cup Classic and both are set to train-on as five-year-olds.
Fort Larned will be aimed at the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs (15 June), while Mucho Macho Man could head to either the Sunshine Millions Classic (19 January) or the Donn Handicap (9 February).
There will also be early year starts for leading turf performer Point Of Entry and 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, who are set to clash in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (9 February).
That race will being used as a prep by both camps before they head to Dubai: Animal Kingdom for the World Cup, Point Of Entry for the Sheema Classic.
Later in the campaign Point Of Entry will be looking for revenge in the Breeders' Cup Turf, where he stayed on strongly for second this year, while Animal Kingdom could tackle the Prince of Wales's at Royal Ascot.
Dullahan is another who has Dubai on the horizon, with the synthetics specialist looking to hold a strong hand in the World Cup.
Top sprinter Amazombie will start his campaign in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (13 April). He will avoid Santa Anita after a couple of disappointing runs there, which means the Breeders' Cup Sprint may be off the table.
Compared to four and five-year-olds, it is far harder to predict what the leading juveniles will be capable of next season.
Sometimes they train on, sometimes they don't. But with Dawn Approach, Kingsbarns and Shanghai Bobby creating suitably champion-worthy impressions at two, the chances are one of them will make it at three.
Dawn Approach was six from six in a season that started in March and ended in the Dewhurst. With an RPR of 123, he's already shown enough ability to land a Group 1 at three.
Kingsbarns is a Galileo from a stout family and, given that both his wins came over 1m on soft ground, he should get a trip. RPR 120. Top end of his ability? Who knows.
Shanghai Bobby has his quirks. Turning into the straight for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile he stopped to a walk - the announcer said he was exhausted. But after the race, jockey Rosie Napravnik admitted she was hoping for some company up front to wake him up.
She was right. A horse can't hide what he's thinking - it's all in the ears. He went clear in front then started idling, looking for running mates. He didn't start running again till he found one. The time was slow, but for a horse already at the top of his generation, it was another classy success.
The normal provisos apply, as with all top juveniles. Let's just hope they fare better than the previous Classic crop. They could hardly do worse.
TOP OF THE CLASS: Nihonpiro Ours 121
Yuki Ohashi (Japan Cup Dirt, Hanshin, 1m1f, December 2)
TOP TURF PERFORMERS
|Name (country trained)||Race||Rating|
|1|| Frankel (GB)
|| Cirrus Des Aigles (Fr)
||Prix Dollar/Champion Stakes
|3||Excelebration (Ire)||Queen Elizabeth II||131|
|| Black Caviar (Aus)
|| Hay List (Aus)
| Orfevre (Jap)
||Takarazuka Kinen/Japan Cup
|| Wise Dan (US)
|8|| So You Think (Ire)
||Tattersalls Gold Cup||127|
| Moonlight Cloud (Fr)
||Prix Maurice de Gheest||127|
| Nathaniel (GB)
| Camelot (Ire)
TOP DIRT PERFORMERS
|Name (country trained)||Race||Rating|
|1|| Wise Dan (US)
||Stephen Foster Hcap||128|
|Fort Larned (US)||Breeders' Cup Classic||128|
|3||Mucho Macho Man (US)||Breeders' Cup Classic||127|
| I'll Have Another (US)
|5|| Bodemeister (US)
| Caleb's Posse (US)
|7|| Amazombie (US)
|Game On Dude (US)||Awesome Again||125|
|9|| Ron The Greek (US)
||Stephen Foster Hcap||124|
| Shackleford (US)
| Successful Dan (US)
TOP ALL-WEATHER PERFORMERS
|Name (country trained)||Race||Rating|
|1|| Wise Dan (US)
|2||Dullahan (US)||Pacific Classic||127|
|| Monterosso (UAE)
||Dubai World Cup||126|
|4|| Amazombie (US)
||Bing Crosby Handicap||125|
| Game On Dude (US)
||Hollywood Gold Cup||125|
|6|| Camp Victory (US)
||Triple Bend Hcap||124|
|7|| Krypton Factor (BHR)
|8|| Musir (SAF)
||Maktoum Challenge R1
| Colour Vision (GB)
| The Factor (US)
||Triple Bend Hcap||122|