Winx heads strong Australian-bred team among world’s best racehorses of 2018

The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities have published the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings for 2018 and once again thebreedingshed has analysed the make-up of the top hundred or so horses from a breeding perspective. Where were the best horses in the world in 2018 bred, and who were their sires?

Click here for an analysis of last year’s (2017) WBR Rankings.

Top spot in the WBR Rankings is shared by Europe’s best older horse Cracksman, winner of the Champion Stakes at Ascot for the second year, and Australia’s record-breaking mare Winx who won her fourth Cox Plate. Behind them come the world’s top dirt horse Accelerate, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic, who is just ahead of the 2017 winner of the same race Gun Runner, who won the Pegasus World Cup on his only outing in 2018 early in the year, Hong Kong’s crack miler Beauty Generation, a New Zealand-bred gelding, and Roaring Lion, the highest-rated three-year-old, trained in Britain but bred in the USA.

A rating of 118 or more in the WBR Rankings gives a rough ‘top hundred’ to work with. The actual number of horses achieving that rating or higher this time was down to 116 from 128 in 2017 (compared with 96 in 2015 and 109 in 2016).

First then, here is how those 116 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 2017 WBR Rankings. The second figure in brackets is a comparison with the number of horses rated 118+ in 2017.

USA (1) 24 (-4)                                   Accelerate (128)

Australia (=3) 21 (+4)                      Winx (130)

Ireland (2) 19 (-8)                             Poet’s Word (126)

Japan (=3) 17 (=)                              Almond Eye (124)

Great Britain (=3) 16 (-1)               Cracksman (130)

France (9) 5 (+2)                               Recoletos (121)

New Zealand (6) 5 (-1)                   Beauty Generation (127)

South Africa (=7) 5 (=)                    Last Winter (119)

Germany (=7) 3 (-2)                        Pakistan Star (120)

Argentina (10) 1 (-1)                       Puerto Escondido (120)

The USA remains top despite a smaller number of horses in the ‘top hundred’, while Ireland suffered a bigger loss and drops to third from second. Instead it is Australia which is the main mover in the Rankings, up from joint-third in 2017 to second, with Winx heading 21 horses in the ‘top hundred’ with an AUS suffix. The totals for Japan and Great Britain have changed little from the year before, though they now stand fourth and fifth respectively after being joint-third in 2017.

Besides Australia, France was the other nation to have increased its representation, with five horses rated 118+, the same number as New Zealand and South Africa. Germany’s three horses are headed by Hong Kong’s mercurial performer Pakistan Star, while Argentinian-bred Puerto Escondido was the only South American horse in the ‘top hundred’.

Here are the 25 sires (up from 15 in 2017) who had two or more horses rated 118 or higher with their representatives listed:

SEA THE STARS (4) Crystal Ocean (125), Cloth of Stars (123), Sea of Class (122), Stradivarius (120)

GALILEO (4) Magical (122), Waldgeist (122), Kew Gardens (120), Capri (118)

DEEP IMPACT (4) Saxon Warrior (121), Sungrazer (120), Wagnerian (119), Al Ain (118)

FRANKEL (3) Cracksman (130), Monarchs Glen (118), Mozu Ascot (118)

TEOFILO (3) Happy Clapper (123), Exultant (119), Humidor (118)

DUBAWI (3) Benbatl (123), North America (118), Old Persian (118)

FASTNET ROCK (3) Comin’ Through (118), Merchant Navy (118), Torcedor (118)

STREET CRY (2) Winx (130), Osborne Bulls (118)

KITTEN’S JOY (2) Roaring Lion (127), Hawkbill (120)

SCAT DADDY (2) Justify (125), Mendelssohn (119)

MORE THAN READY (2) Roy H (124), Catholic Boy (122)

LORD KANALOA (2) Almond Eye (124), Stelvio (118)

MASTERCRAFTSMAN (2) Alpha Centauri (124), Wind Chimes (118)

DARK ANGEL (2) Battaash (123), Harry Angel (122)

SNITZEL (2) Trapeze Artist (123), Redzel (122)

KING KAMEHAMEHA (2) Rey de Oro (123), Mikki Rocket (119)

HARBINGER (2) Blast Onepiece (122), Persian Knight (119)

LOPE DE VEGA (2) Santa Ana Lane (122), Vega Magic (119)

SHAMARDAL (2) Blue Point (120), Pakistan Star (120)

ARCHIPENKO (2) Time Warp (120), Glorious Forever (119)

HEART’S CRY (2) Yoshida (120), Cheval Grand (119)

QUALITY ROAD (2) City of Light (120), Abel Tasman (118)

REDOUTE’S CHOICE (2) The Autumn Sun (120), Thewizardofoz (118)

LONHRO (2) Impending (119), Kementari (119)

WAR FRONT (2) U S Navy Flag (119), Lancaster Bomber (118)

After being the dominant sire in the 2017 WBR Rankings with 11 horses, Galileo had ‘only’ four this time and had to share top spot with half-brother Sea The Stars and Japan’s champion sire Deep Impact (they had been third and second respectively in 2017). Galileo’s representatives were headed by Magical, winner of the Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot and runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner Waldgeist. Both of those contested the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in which Sea of Class and Cloth of Stars were placed for Sea The Stars, though Sea The Stars’ best horse was Crystal Ocean who won the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot but found both Arc winner Enable and Cracksman too good later in the year.

Deep Impact’s best horse was the 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior, though he had a classic winner at home in Japan as well where Wagnerian won the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby). The other Japanese-based sires in the above list are Lord Kanaloa, sire of Japan Cup and fillies’ triple crown winner Almond Eye, Lord Kanaloa’s own sire King Kamehameha, responsible for the Tenno Sho (Autumn) winner Rey de Oro, Harbinger, sire of Arima Kinen winner Blast Onepiece, and Heart’s Cry, whose best horse was Yoshida, a Grade 1 winner in the USA on both dirt and turf.

Cracksman headed a trio of horses in the ‘top hundred’ for his sire Frankel, while Dubawi, Teofilo, and Fastnet Rock were the others with three horses rated 118 or more. Dubawi’s son Benbatl was a Group 1 winner in Dubai, Germany and Australia, as well as finishing second to Winx in the Cox Plate. Two-year-olds are not included the WBR Rankings, but it’s worth adding that Dubawi was responsible for the top two European juveniles, Too Darn Hot (126) and Quorto (121), both of them unbeaten.

Teofilo’s Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter didn’t rate highly enough (117) to make the ‘top hundred’. All three of Teofilo’s best horses were based outside Europe, in fact, headed by Australian-bred Happy Clapper, a dual Group 1 winner at Randwick.

Fastnet Rock is another sire with a presence in both hemispheres and demonstrated his versatility at Royal Ascot where his Australian-bred son Merchant Navy won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and the Irish-bred Torcedor finished third in the Gold Cup.

While Irish-based Lope de Vega had a good year in the northern hemisphere, including as the sire of the impressive Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Newspaperofrecord, his two counters in the ‘top hundred’ come from his Australian crops, including Santa Ana Lane who won three Group 1 sprints.

The other sire worth picking out from the above list is the late Archipenko (who died in late-2017) who was responsible for the Hong Kong-based brothers Time Warp and Glorious Forever, the last two winners of the Hong Kong Cup. The pair, out of the Stormy Atlantic mare Here To Eternity, also finished one-two in the Group 3 Sa Sa Ladies’ Purse in November in which Time Warp beat his younger brother by a neck.