World’s Best: Arrogate and Galileo top again

Arrogate won the world’s two richest races in 2017 and was ranked the world’s best horse for the second year running.


The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities have just released the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings for 2017 and as in past years thebreedingshed has analysed the ratings from the perspective of the sires of the world’s top hundred or so horses.

Click here for an analysis of last year’s (2016) Rankings.

For the second year running, Arrogate heads the rankings after winning the inaugural Pegasus World Cup early in the year and following up in the Dubai World Cup from Gun Runner (joint-third in the rankings) who was to turn the tables on him comprehensively in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Behind Arrogate, Australia’s Winx is both the highest-rated turf horse and highest-rated female in the rankings, with Champion Stakes winner Cracksman, Europe’s best horse and the top three-year-old, sharing third spot with Gun Runner.

A rating of 118 has proven a convenient cut-off point to analyse the world’s hundred or so best three-year-olds and upwards in past years (96 horses earned that rating or higher in 2015 and 109 in 2016), though that number jumped to 128 in 2017. Even so, we will still use 118 as the cut-off, though with the proviso that that includes a lot more horses than twelve months ago.

First, here are how those 128 horses are distributed by their country of origin (as designated by their suffix), not the country in which they are trained. The highest-rated horse (with rating) for each country is also shown. The number in brackets next to the country indicates the position it held in the 2016 rankings.

USA (2) 28                           Arrogate (134)

Ireland (1) 27                     Ulysses (126)

Australia (5) 17                  Winx (132)

Great Britain (4) 17          Cracksman (130)

Japan (3) 17                        Kitasan Black (124)

New Zealand (7) 6           Humidor (122)

Germany (9) 5                   Dschingis Secret (120)

South Africa (8) 5             Legal Eagle, Marinaresco (120)

France (6) 3                        Le Brivido (120)

Argentina (-) 2                   Puerto Escondido (120)

Canada (-) 1                        Shaman Ghost (119)

Ireland loses top spot from twelve months ago to the USA, while Japan, outright third in the 2016 rankings, shares that position with Britain and Australia who move up from fourth and fifth respectively. There’s a big gap behind the top five nations, with New Zealand leading the rest. Germany’s five horses represents a significant increase from just two the year before, while France followed a good year in 2016 (seven horses rated 118+) with a total of just three in 2017. South Africa holds eighth spot again, but with more horses this time. Argentina represented South America this time with two horses rated 118+ after Peru had one in 2016. Canada was missing in 2016 but supplied Shaman Ghost, runner-up to Arrogate in the Pegasus World Cup.

Here are the sires who had two or more horses rated 118 or higher with their representatives listed:


Ulysses (126), Churchill (123), Highland Reel (123), Order of St George (123), Capri (120), Decorated Knight (120), Minding (120), Deauville (119), Hydrangea (119), Idaho (119, Winter (119)


Satono Diamond (120), Al Ain (118), Satono Aladdin (118), Staphanos (118), Tosen Stardom (118)


Cloth of Stars (125), Mutakayyef (120), Crystal Ocean (118), Stradivarius (118)


Harry Angel (125), Battaash (123), Persuasive (118)


Taareef (122), Oscar Performance (121), Hawkbill (118)


Talismanic (122), Elate (118), Songbird (118)


Gun Runner (130), Mastery (118)


Cheval Grand (123), Suave Richard (118)


Ribchester (124), Gingernuts (118)


World Approval (123), War Story (119)


Lady Aurelia (122), Caravaggio (120)


Redzel (121), Trapeze Artist (118)


Dschingis Secret (120), Our Ivanhowe (119)


Humidor (122), Happy Clapper (121)


Arrogate (134), Forever Unbridled (119)

No surprise to see Galileo as the best-represented sire again, and this time he had more than twice as many horses rated 118+ as his closest rival Deep Impact who had a quieter year in 2017 after running Galileo close in 2016. Galileo’s best horses included English classic winners Churchill, Capri and Winter who were among those by the sire who contributed to Aidan O’Brien’s record-breaking total of 28 Group/Grade 1 wins, the last of which came with Highland Reel’s win in the Hong Kong Vase.

While the Eclipse and Juddmonte International winner Ulysses was Galileo’s highest-rated horse, it was that colt’s near-relative Cloth of Stars (who beat Ulysses for second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe) who headed a quartet of representatives for Galileo’s half-brother Sea The Stars. Galileo’s son Teofilo also appears on the list with a couple of southern hemisphere-bred horses; Humidor, who was second to Winx in the Cox Plate, and Epsom Handicap winner Happy Clapper.

Deep Impact’s best horse was Satono Diamond though he was put in the shade by Kitasan Black, a son of Deep Impact’s brother Black Tide, who was Japan’s Horse of the Year for the second year running. Japan’s Derby (Toyko Yushun) winner Rey de Oro, also second in the Japan Cup, was the only representative for King Kamehameha in the 2017 rankings (he had three horses rated 118+ in 2016). Instead, Heart’s Cry was the only other Japanese stallion with more than one horse rated 118 or more; Cheval Grand beat Rey de Oro in the Japan Cup, while Suave Richard finished second to him in the Tokyo Yushun.

Japan Cup winner Cheval Grand is by Heart’s Cry

Irish-based stallion Dark Angel boasted three representatives, notably the crack sprinters Harry Angel and Battaash, while the deceased Scat Daddy also had a couple of the world’s best sprinters in Lady Aurelia and Caravaggio, both winners at Royal Ascot for the second year running. The other speed sire to do well in the rankings was Australian champion Snitzel, sire of Redzel whose wins included the first running of The Everest, the world’s richest turf race.

Remarkably, America’s most expensive stallion Tapit failed to get a single horse rated 118+. On the other hand, El Prado’s US-based sons Medaglia d’Oro and Kitten’s Joy both managed three horses apiece. The best representative of each of them was trained in France, with Medaglia d’Oro’s Talismanic winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Kitten’s Joy’s son the miler Taareef winning the Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Chantilly for the second year running.

Arrogate’s sire Unbridled’s Song was also represented by the Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Forever Unbridled, while Gun Runner’s sire Candy Ride also had Mastery who had to retire unbeaten in four starts after sustaining an injury winning the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita in March.

Where Tapit failed, Northern Afleet, standing for $5,000 at the age of 25 in 2018, excelled himself with two representatives, triple Grade 1 winner (including the Breeders’ Cup Mile) in 2017 World Approval and Grade 2 winner War Story.

Dschingis Secret
Dschingis Secret was one of two sons of German stallion Soldier Hollow rated 118 or more in the Rankings

Another less heralded sire to have two horses rated 118+ was Germany’s Soldier Hollow thanks to Dschingis Secret, whose wins included the Grosser Preis von Berlin and the Prix Foy, and Our Ivanhowe, a successful export to Australia where he landed his second Group 1 in the Ranvet Stakes in 2017.

Iffraajs success was highlighted by thebreedingshed earlier in 2017 and he had two very different leading performers, Europe’s highest-rated miler Ribchester and the New Zealand Derby winner Gingernuts.

[Images: Arrogate – jlvsclrk, Cheval Grand – nakashi, Dschingis Secret – Kassandro]