Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Publication of Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings 2019

Please find below an overview of the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings 2019 and the Irish Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings 2019 which were published this week.

 

LONGINES WORLD’S RACEHORSE RANKINGS 2019

 

OVERVIEW

For the first time in LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings’ history (including all preceding International Classification editions since 1977) the mantle of highest rated horse in the world in 2019 has been shared by three horses, all European trained five-year-olds, namely, the French-trained horse WALDGEIST (GB)(128) and the GB-trained duo of CRYSTAL OCEAN (GB)(128) and the 10-time career Group 1-winning mare ENABLE (GB)(128). Indeed, there have been only six occasions since 1977 when top honours have been shared but this is the fourth time this century when there has been no outright champion. It is probably appropriate that honours were shared in 2019 when no horse emerged during the year with a higher rating than 128, which is the joint lowest ever rating for World Champion honours (along with the Irish-trained 3-y-o colt Rock Of Gibraltar (IRE)(128) back in 2002).

The 5-y-o horse WALDGEIST (GB)(128) is the fourth French-trained Champion (or Joint Champion) this century and the third to be trained by Andre Fabre (following Hurricane Run (Ire) (130)(2005) and Manduro (GER)(131)(2011). Treve (FR) (130)(2013) was the other French champion. As with fellow 5-y-o CRYSTAL OCEAN (GB)(128), there has been an upward progression in WALDGEIST’s rating – 117 as a three-year-old, 122 last year and a career-best performance in winning the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) in Paris in October when he ran to a rating of 128 in defeating fellow Joint-Champion, the mare ENABLE (GB)(128).

CRYSTAL OCEAN (GB) (128) failed narrowly in that race (as he had in 2018 behind Poet’s Word (IRE)(126)) but in giving the mare ENABLE the 3lbs sex allowance, he emerged as the highest rated horse in the race with WALDGEIST back in third place. He showed a similar progression to WALDGEIST in improving his rating of 118 as a 3-y-o in 2017 to 125 last year as a 4-y-o and to 128 this year in finally winning a Group 1 as a five-year-old when defeating MAGICAL (IRE) (122) in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot in June – the best performance (127) in the World over 10 furlongs during 2019.

Behind this top-rated trio, there were a number of notably fine fillies and mares throughout the world. The 5-y-o Japanese mare LYS GRACIEUX (JPN)(126) had not rated higher than 114 prior to 2019 but, astonishingly, she improved massively as the season progressed in winning three Group 1 races, including the Ladbrokes Cox Plate (G1) in Australia, before returning home to win the Arima Kinen (G1) in December, where her scintillating performance marked a new highest ever rating level for a Japanese-trained filly. She took that mantle from ALMOND EYE (JPN)(124), who nonetheless replicated her 2018 rating level in winning two Group 1 races. WINX (AUS)(125) remained the best horse in Australia and ended her astonishing career by winning all four races that she contested in 2019 including three Group 1 races - although her rating did drop from the 130 level that she achieved in the previous two years.

The Hong Kong trained 7-y-o gelding BEAUTY GENERATION (NZ)(127) retained his mantle (from 2018) of World’s Top Miler as well as Joint Top-rated HK-trained horse ever (alongside Able Friend (AUS)(2014)(127)) while the 5-y-o GB-trained gelding BATTAASH (IRE)(126) improved to a career high rating of 126 in breaking the course record at York in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (G1), marking him out as the highest rated sprinter since crack Australian mare Black Caviar (AUS)(130) and Japan’s best ever sprinter, Lord Kanaloa (JPN)(128) both back in 2013.

It was, however, a notably poor year for the classic crop of 3-y-os worldwide. There were no less than 15 older horses worldwide rated ahead of the best 3-y-o colt in the world in 2019, namely the French trained SOTTSASS (FR)(123), who won the Qipco Prix du Jockey Club (G1) before finishing third in the Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe (G1) – his best performance but one that marks him out as the lowest rated 3-y-o Turf Champion ever, just behind Camelot (Ire)(124) and Gold Ship (JPN)(124) back in 2012. The Japanese-trained 3-y-o filly GRAN ALEGRIA (JPN)(117) topped the 3-y-o filly charts worldwide in winning the Oko Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas)(G1) and the Hanshin Cup (G2)(against colts and older horses) but her level of 117 is also the lowest ever as a leader in this category, just behind the joint-champion trio from 2006 – Alexandrova (IRE)(118), Mandesha (FR)(118), and Wait a While (USA)(118).

Finally, 2019 marked the first ever appearance of a Swedish-trained horse in the LWBRR listing – SQUARE DE LUYNES (FR) (115), a 4-y-o colt who won the Stockholm Cup (G3) by a wide margin. The best horses on turf trained in different continents not already mentioned are as follows:

SOUTH AMERICA - The 3-y-o Brazilian-trained colt -NAO DA MAIS (BRZ) (117) - winner of the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini (G1) in Buenos Aires.

NORTH AMERICA - Five-time Group 1 winner BRICKS AND MORTAR (USA) (122), who was unbeaten in 2019.

SOUTH AFRICA – 4-y-o colt DO IT AGAIN (SAF) (121) – winner of the Vodacom Durban July (G1) at Greyville Racecourse.

 

IRISH THOROUGHBRED RACEHORSE RANKINGS 2019

 

OVERVIEW

It was an average enough year for Irish-trained horses internationally with no Irish-trained horses appearing in the Top 18 horses worldwide as listed in the LONGINES WORLD’S BEST RACEHORSE RANKINGS 2019 (a worldwide classification of horses aged 3+) and only 3 Irish races appearing in the World’s Top 100 Races run in 2019. There was a three way tie for Top-Rated Irish Horse of the Year (3yo+) with all three horses trained by Aidan O’Brien – the four-year-old filly MAGICAL (IRE)(122) and the three-year-old colts, JAPAN (GB)(122) and TEN SOVEREIGNS (IRE) (122). However, this level (122) would be the lowest for any Irish Champion (3yo+) Racehorse since Irish Classifications commenced in 1978. That said, Irish horses won ten of the 13 domestic Group 1 races run this year (up from 6 last year) as well as three of the five Irish Classics. The most exceptional performance of the year was that of the GB-trained juvenile PINATUBO (IRE)(128) in winning the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (G1) by nine lengths and one has to go back to Storm Bird (USA)(128) in 1980 and El Gran Senor (USA)(128) in 1983 to find a comparable level of performance in the Irish Juvenile Classifications.

TWO YEAR OLDS

PINATUBO’s performance in winning at the Curragh made him the European Champion Juvenile Colt and he was an astonishing and unprecedented ten pounds higher rated than the next best European juveniles of 2019. One has to go back 25 years to find a higher-rated European Juvenile, namely Celtic Swing (GB) (130), back in 1994. PINATUBO subsequently won the Darley Dewhurst Stakes (G1) at Newmarket, defeating ARIZONA (IRE) (116) by a much smaller margin than at the Curragh. This performance by ARIZONA made him the highest-rated Irish-trained juvenile colt in 2019 although this would be the lowest level (along with Gleneagles (IRE) (116) (2014)) for a champion in this category this century.

MILLISLE (IRE) (115) and ALBIGNA (IRE) (114) were the best two Irish-trained juvenile fillies in 2019. Both trained by Jessica Harrington, MILLISLE won the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes (G1) at Newmarket, in the process becoming European Champion Juvenile Filly, while ALBIGNA won the Qatar Marcel Boussac (G1) at Longchamp. MILLISLE’s level (115) as European Champion Juvenile Filly would be similar to compatriot Clemmie (IRE) (115) back in 2017 but only Certify (USA)(113)(2012) would rate lower as a champion in this category since 1999.

Barring the exceptional Pinatubo, it was a very average year for European juveniles although there were 14 Irish-trained juveniles in the top 40 European juveniles listed at a rating of 110+. Other notable Group 1 winning performances came courtesy of the Ger Lyons-trained colt SISKIN (USA) (114) and the Aidan O Brien trained filly LOVE (IRE)(111) winning the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (G1) and Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1) respectively, both races at the Curragh.

THREE YEAR OLDS

While there was a very modest crop of 3-y-os worldwide in 2019, there were a number of meritorious Irish 3-y-os who fared best in their respective divisions in both Europe and the World. JAPAN (GB) (122) and TEN SOVEREIGNS (IRE)(122), both trained by Aidan O’Brien, were the Joint Top-Rated Irish 3-y-os with both horses best in the world in their respective distance categories. JAPAN earned the mantle of top Turf 3-y-o Colt in the World at 10f for his win over CRYSTAL OCEAN (GB)(128) in the Juddmonte Stakes (G1) at York in August and he achieved a similar rating for finishing fourth over 12f in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) in October. TEN SOVEREIGNS’ imperious display of sprinting in the Darley July Cup (G1) at Newmarket ensured he gets the award for top 3-y-o Turf Sprinter worldwide – an accolade not held by an Irish sprinter since One Cool Cat (USA) (114) back in 2004.

The Joseph O’Brien-trained three time Group 1 winner IRIDESSA (IRE)(116) and the Dermot Weld-trained SEARCH FOR A SONG (IRE)(116) shared the mantle of Champion Irish 3-y-o Fillies for 2019 although again, at a level of 116, only the French-trained Chicquita (Ire)(115) back in 2013 would have rated lower as a champion in this category in the last 25 years. IRIDESSA’s (IRE)(116) three Group 1 wins culminated in an impressive victory in the Makers Mark Breeders Cup Fillies and Mare Turf (G1) at Santa Anita for which she is deemed World Champion 3-y-o Turf Filly at 10f, while her earlier win in the Coolmore ‘Fastnet Rock’ Matron Stakes (G1) rated at a similar level and earned her the title of Joint Top-Rated European 3-y-o Turf Filly Miler.

SEARCH FOR A SONG showed marked improvement to win the Comer Group International Irish St Leger (G1), in the process defeating four older G1-winning colts. Her performance level of 116 made her Top World 3-y-o Filly Stayer in 2019 and indeed one would have to go back to 1997 to find a higher rated Irish-trained filly in this category, namely the John Oxx-trained Ebadiyla (IRE)(117).

 

FOUR YEAR OLDS AND UPWARDS

The remarkably consistent and durable filly MAGICAL (IRE) (122) emulated her 3-y-o rating level, in the process winning three prestigious Group 1 races, namely the Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1), the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes (G1) and the Qipco British Champion Stakes (G1) at Ascot. She was also Joint Champion European Older Filly/Mare over 10f (along with her Coral Eclipse (G1) conqueror ENABLE (GB)).

Best of the older colts were the Aidan O’Brien-trained stayer KEW GARDENS (IRE) (119) and the Ken Condon-trained miler ROMANISED (IRE)(118). KEW GARDENS narrowly defeated the World Champion Stayer (for the second year in a row) STRAVIDARIUS (IRE)(122) in winning the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (G2) at Ascot while ROMANISED (IRE)(118) improved his 3-y-o rating level by a pound in winning the Prix du Haras de Fresnay le Buffard Jacques le Marois (G1) at Deauville in August .

Among the older fillies, the Edward Lynam-trained sprinter SOFFIA (GB)(115) was considered the Best Older Sprinter Filly in Europe after her impressive win in the Friarstown Stud Sapphire Stakes (G2) at the Curragh in July while the Aidan O’Brien-trained MAGIC WAND(IRE)(115) improved her 2018 rating level by a pound and finally won a Group 1 (on her tenth attempt in 2019) in Australia in November in the Seppelt MacKinnon Stakes (G1) at Flemington in Melbourne. Her best performance was an unlucky defeat in the Longines Hong Kong Cup (G1) at Sha Tin in December but what was most noteworthy about her racing campaign in 2019 was that it started in Florida in January and ended in Hong Kong in December, running in eleven Group 1 races spread over four continents during that 12 month period.

Full rankings available here


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