Galileo on top of the world but Deep Impact close behind

Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arrogate – the world’s best horse but not US Horse of the Year…

Once again thebreedingshed has analysed the annual list of the World’s Best Racehorses recently published by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. As in previous years, a rating of 118 provides an approximate cut-off point for producing a ‘top hundred’ list of the best horses (three-year-olds and older), though the actual number of horses rated 118 or higher in 2016 was 109 compared with just 96 in 2015.

 Firstly, here are how those horses are distributed by their country of origin as designated by their suffixes (not by where they were trained), along with the highest-rated horse(s) for each country. The number in brackets shows the increase/decrease compared with the last time we analysed the world ‘top hundred’ by country of origin two years ago.


Ireland 23(=)                      Found, Postponed (124)

USA 21(-1)                          Arrogate (134)

Japan 18(+4)                      A Shin Hikari, Maurice (127)

Great Britain 15(-2)         Hartnell (124)

Australia 13(+5)                Winx (132)

France 7(+4)                       Almanzor (129)

New Zealand 6(+1)          Werther (124)

South Africa 3(=)              Legal Eagle, Smart Call (119)

Germany 2(-1)                  Protectionist (120)

Peru 1(+1)                           Elbchaussee (119)


The same top five countries had the most horses in the ‘top hundred’ as in 2014, though Japan swapped places with Great Britain thanks to an increase of four horses compared with two years ago. Australia, which had the world’s highest-rated turf horse, the mare Winx, had the greatest increase in number of horses in the ‘top hundred’, up from eight to thirteen. France was the other significant improver, with seven horses (up from three), including Europe’s highest-rated horse Almanzor. Ireland once again had the most number of horses in the ‘top hundred’, though the USA bred the two best horses, the Breeders’ Cup Classic one-two Arrogate and California Chrome. South America was represented this time solely by Peru (dual Group 2 winner Elbchaussee), whereas Argentina (2), Brazil and Chile had all had representatives in the 2014 ‘top hundred’.

Highland Reel
Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Highland Reel was among Galileo’s nine horses in the ‘top 100’, all of them trained by Aidan O’Brien


Here are the sires who had two or more horses in the 2016 ‘top hundred’ with their representatives listed:


Found (124), Highland Reel (123), Minding (122), The Gurkha (122), Order of St George (120), Idaho (119),Seventh Heaven (119), US Army Ranger (119), Alice Springs (118)


A Shin Hikari (127), Satono Diamond (122), Makahiki (121), Dee Majesty (120), Real Steel (120), Last Impact (118), Mikki Isle (118), Staphanos (118)


Postponed (124), Journey (120), Time Test (119), Dartmouth (118), New Bay (118), Sheikhzayedroad (118)


Duramente (121), Lovely Day (118), Yamakatsu Ace (118)


Harzand (121), Mutakayyef (120), Zelzal (119)


Exaggerator (120), Stellar Wind (119)


Flintshire (123), Queen’s Trust (118)


Blazing Speed (118), Not Listenin’tome (118)


Beauty Only (119), Designs On Rome (119)


Ribchester (122), Turn Me Loose (118)


Songbird (122), Astern (118)


Protectionist (120), Vadamos (120)


Lightning Spear (120), Wings of Desire (118)


Maurice (127), Gold Actor (120)


Dariyan (119), Usherette (118)


Arrogate (134), Forever Unbridled (119)

A Shin Hikari
Prix d’Ispahan winner A Shin Hikari was Deep Impact’s best horse in 2016.


Galileo regains his position as the leading sire of horses in the ‘top hundred’ after losing top spot to Dubawi in 2015. Headed by the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Found, the most remarkable thing about Galileo’s nine representatives is that every one of them was trained by Aidan O’Brien – a unique case, surely, of a stable being so reliant on a single stallion.

However, Galileo was pushed close by Deep Impact who was virtually as dominant in Japan as Galileo was in Britain and Ireland. Deep Impact’s eight horses in the ‘top hundred’ doubled his number of representatives from the previous two years. His best horse, A Shin Hikari, actually put up his best effort in Europe when running away with the Prix d’Ispahan at Chantilly, while back home his three-year-old colts Dee Majesty, Makahiki and Satono Diamond were respectively winners of Japan’s 2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger.

Although not quite as successful as in 2015, Dubawi was the other sire to stand out from the rest, with his six members of the ‘top hundred’ again led by Postponed whose wins included the Dubai Sheema Classic, Coronation Cup and Juddmonte International.

The Sheema Classic runner-up Duramente was the best of three representatives in the ‘top hundred’ for Japan’s second-best sire King Kamehameha. Galileo’s half-brother Sea The Stars also had a trio of horses that included the Derby and Irish Derby winner Harzand.

Eleven other sires had two representatives apiece in the ‘top hundred’. They included the US-based Curlin (sire of Preakness Stakes winner Exaggerator), Medaglia d’Oro (champion three-year-old filly Songbird) and Arrogate’s sire Unbridled’s Song, but not US champion sire Tapit whose only representative in the ‘top hundred’ was the runaway Metropolitan Handicap winner Frosted (126).

British-based stallion Dansili’s two representatives both performed well at the Breeders’ Cup where Queen’s Trust won the Filly & Mare Turf and Flintshire (champion turf male) finished second in the Turf.

Two other sons of Danehill with a couple in the ‘top hundred’ were Dylan Thomas and Holy Roman Emperor whose best performers were based in Hong Kong. Dylan Thomas’s pair were very different types, with Not Listenin’tome an Australian-bred sprinter and the British-bred Blazing Speed winning the mile and a half Champions & Chater Cup for the second time. Hong Kong Mile winner Beauty Only and Designs On Rome, who won the Hong Kong Gold Cup for the second year running, were Holy Roman Emperor’s pair.

Like Dylan Thomas, Iffraaj was represented by products from both hemispheres, with Prix Jacques le Marois winner Ribchester and the New Zealand-bred Futurity Stakes winner Turn Me Loose.

Japan’s joint-best horse Maurice (alongside A Shin Hikari) was one of two representatives for Japan Cup winner Screen Hero, the other being Gold Actor, fourth in the latest Japan Cup and third in the Arima Kinen which he had won in 2015.

The well-established trio of Monsun, Pivotal and Shamardal were the other three sires to have more than one horse in the ‘top hundred’.

[Images: Arrogate and Highland Reel – jlvsclrk; A Shin Hikari – ogiyoshisan]