Hareeba mate all the crops you listed were before I was born(except this season which is hardly worth a real mention as much a fan of Lonhro and Viscount as I am and how good a stayer I think the Don may be they don't really rate) so excuse my ignorance of some of the horses you mentioned. I know a many of them but some I have never heard of. You'll probably prove me wrong but I see it this way(ignoring the sprinters for the moment but since you mentioned sprinters how about Our Maizcay, Strategic, Gold Ace, Flying Spur- all group one winners against older horses) as three year olds between them they won the Cox Plate, Mercedes Classic, Australian Cup and ran second in the Melbourne Cup. As four year olds they won all four. So besides the Caulfield Cup they took out all the major staying races in their two years. They also won a number of other group one events but how many crops have beat the older horses then come back as older horses and won again.
I agree with you that running a mile and a half shouldn't be a condition for a champion as I think champion sprinters are amazing.
Jrb- I am not trying to compare Australia's triple crown to theirs I think it should stay the same as it is now. It is still an important series though. If the Canterbury Guineas and Rosehill Guineas are basically the same race why doesn't the same horse always win both. I agree with your point on the stupidity of running the Canterbury Guineas at Rosehill though.
On your point regarding three year olds who do not go on there have been a number group one winning three year olds not go on in recent years as a result of many factors including over-racing(which I think Nothin Leica Dane suffered from) including Dignity Dancer, Gold Guru, Arena, Freemason and I'm sure there are others that escape me at this point.
I wouldn't call the Cox Plates you mentioned ancient history I've never seen(too young) the whole race of any of them though so I couldn't comment on them. I was trying to show that in recent years especially since the strath ayr was put in(1995 I think but I'm not sure as I couldn't find out on their website) the race has become one for speed horses and the backmarkers seem to be at a big disadvantage. Recent history has shown this with the performances of on pace runners in recent years.
Using ratings might be fine to compare horses when racing each other but in comparing champions I think emotion and personal feelings are important because if you take the emotion away where is the enjoyment in the sport. I love racing and I'm passionate about it so why should that be wasted for a computer program. I don't need anyone to think for me and neither should you.
Wily- So he was merely a champion three year old stayer. His four group ones at four and his champion two year old title were obviously a waste of time. You use Our Maizcay as an example who was an outstanding horse and it was a tragedy his race career ended prematurely. The head to head record was still 3-2 to Octagonal and only one of them was over a distance suited to Occy. The Caulfield mile is more like 1400 and can be a real speed horse mile(look at how close sprinters like the General and Lauries Lottery got to winning and they were no milers). If anything this example strengthens Occy's case that he had such a good record against OM. No other horse in the generation(or at all) would probably have a positive record against him.
His form in that four year old spring was poor but he still won a group one race. The campaign was poorly thought out though. While he could sprint as a two and early three year old as he got older he only really sprinted fresh. In his three and four year old autumns he had only five starts and after running second over 1400 metres first up jumped in distance so that by his third start of the campaign he was at 2000 metres and then went to 2400(his ideal distance) the mistake they made in his last race was bringing him back to 2000 metres but he was still beaten by a great horse who at some stages of his career blew away a who's who of racing in the mid to late nineties(including Sunline in a very pitiful effort in the Queen Elizabeth when he was giving her a ton of weight at WFA. He also beat home a very underated horse in All Our Mob.
The problem with the four year old spring(even Hawkes admits he made a mistake) is that he had a seven race campaign where first up he was at 1200 metres and third up he was still only at a mile and fourth up even though he won over 1800 he was usually at 2400 at that stage. It took him till his fifth start to reach 2000 metres(where he stayed) which he ideally should have been at third up. For a genuine 2400 horse(in the long term of a campaign, his record over 2000 metres was still good but he had to be fresh). Hawkes realised the problem and rectified it for the autumn where he won three more group ones.
Maybe he had plateaued but it was a pretty high plateau considering he won three group ones his last campaign including a Mercedes and Australian Cup and ran second in a group one and group two. Thats a great campaign by anyones standard. you say a stud career would be better but how many outstanding three year olds race on at four let alone five. In any other part of the world he would have been retired at three. Even in Australia many horses retire at three. What did he have to race for at five he had already won all the major WFA classics and if you had a horse that could basically guarantee you at least $3 million(it would have been closer to seven or eight million last year) a year like he has produced at stud would you knock it back.
People bring up Saintly against him but he was 3-1 against him too, what other horse had such a good record against Saintly. But put Saintly in his perfect environment you say and that would be a race. Octagonal didn't care where he raced as shown by the fact he won Group ones at all the Sydney and Melbourne tracks that have them. How many horses can claim that(not many considering there are seven tracks that stage group ones in those cities).
Mahogany may have been underdone(only Lee Freedman knows for sure how fit he was) but he had a much easier run than Octagonal and there was 12 other horses in the race that never got near either of them and the whole three year old Cox Plate winner is just so common.
How many lengths start was he giving away at the top of the straight in the Australian Cup! He never at any stage looked a possibility of getting up but he still did. I think that was one of his greatest performances. I doubt any other horse in history would have got up from that position.
I find it astounding that people can write off a horse who showed such an amazing will to win at the highest level on so many occassions!!!