Black Caviar Rated World’s Best

Australian racing’s unbeaten superstar Black Caviar has been officially rated the world’s best racehorse following the first release of the World Thoroughbred Rankings (WTR) for 2011 by the International Federation of Horse Authorities (IFHA) in Paris today.

Her stunning victory in the Group 1 Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on 12 March 2011 has been rated the best performance by a thoroughbred anywhere in the world for the six month period from 1 October 2010 to 27 March 2011.

The Newmarket triumph, in which she took her unbeaten streak to 10 and became the first mare in over 100 years to carry 58kg or more to victory in Australia’s premier sprint race, earned her an unprecedented rating of 130 from the IFHA.

That rating has seen the Peter Moody-trained four-year-old set a raft of records for the World Thoroughbred Rankings which first commenced in 2002 and take in the performances of horses in all global racing jurisdictions. Black Caviar is now;

• The highest rated sprinter since the World Thoroughbred Rankings commenced eclipsing Oasis Dream (125 in 2003)
• The first sprinter to head the World Thoroughbred Rankings
• The first Australian horse to head the World Thoroughbred Rankings
• The highest rated Australian horse eclipsing So You Think (126 in 2010)
• The equal highest rated mare joining French champion Goldikova (130 in 2009)

Greg Carpenter, Chairman of the ANZ Classifications Committee and Australia’s representative on the World Thoroughbred Rankings Committee, said the result was monumental.

“This is a landmark day for Australian racing with Black Caviar heading the list of the top 50 active thoroughbred racehorses in the world,” Carpenter said.

“Winners at the Dubai World Cup meeting, US Breeders Cup meeting, Hong Kong International meeting and the Arc De Triomphe have all been rated inferior to Black Caviar.

“That helps put into context the enormity of her achievement in winning the Lexus Newmarket Handicap and indeed her amazing sprinting performances over the past six months.

“It is particularly pleasing that she has broken ground for sprinters in the World Thoroughbred Rankings and showcased the growing strength of Australian racing on the world stage.”

USA Breeders Classic (Dirt) winner Blame, the only horse to defeat glamour mare Zenyatta, is the second ranked horse on 129, with Arc de Triomphe winner Workforce (UK) and runner-up Nakayama Festa (Japan) next best on 128 and 127 respectively.

Rounding out the top five ranked horses is former Australian superstar, now Irish-trained So You Think, who achieved a rating of 126 for his victories in the Group 1 Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Yalumba Classic (2000m) during Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival.

A total of five Australian-trained and four Australian-bred horses feature in the list of the world’s top 50 racehorses which was released today.

Three Australian-trained horses, Hay List, Whobegotyou and Zipping, are equal 30th with a rating of 120, whilst Shocking has leapt to equal 44th following his win in the Group 1 Dubai Australian Cup (2000m) under weight-for-age conditions at Flemington on 12 March 2011.

Australian-bred Singapore star Rocket Man improved his rating to 122 with his victory in last weekend’s Group 1 Golden Shaheen (1200m) in Dubai.

He is now equal 11th in the World Thoroughbred Rankings and sits alongside South Africa’s Hong Kong International (1200m) winner JJ The Jet Plane as the equal second highest sprinter.

They are marginally ahead of Hong Kong’s Australian-bred sprinting hero Sacred Kingdom, who is equal 16th with Emirates Melbourne Cup winner Americain on a rating of 121.

The other Australian-bred horse to make the top 50 is prolific Singapore winner Better Than Ever who sits equal 44th with Shocking for Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Laurie Laxon.

“For Australian trained and bred horses to make up such a significant component of the world’s top 50 racehorses is a terrific advertisement for our breeding and racing industries,” Carpenter said.

“These rankings further strengthen Australia’s standing as the world’s premier sprinting nation, although it is particularly pleasing to see the winners of our elite middle distance and staying races figure so prominently in the rankings too.

“We are looking forward to seeing Black Caviar continue her campaign throughout 2011 and for So You Think to commence racing in Europe where he could improve his ranking also.”

Black Caviar is unbeaten in 11 starts after claiming her fourth straight Group 1 victory at Moonee Valley (Melbourne) last Friday night in the Pulse Pharmacy William Reid Stakes. Her next appearance will be in the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick (Sydney) on 9 April.

For a full list of the World Thoroughbred Rankings visit www.horseracingintfed.com.

Melbourne Colt To Hit The Ground Running In Slipper

Victorian trainer Danny O’Brien is full of confidence going into Saturday’s $3.5million Group 1-AAMI Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens with his talented colt Running Tall.

The youngster was a runaway winner of the Group 2-VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Flemington at his latest appearance and, according to O’Brien, his colt will be primed for Slipper day.

“He’s a lovely colt and has improved again from the Sires going into the Slipper,” O’Brien said this morning. “I am very pleased with him and we are full of confidence.”

When informed Running Tall had firmed from $61 to $35 in the betting market, O’Brien replied: “I tend to think he is still over the odds at $35. He did win a Group 2 race convincingly last time and was completely dominant. It was a very emphatic victory.”

Running Tall, to be partnered by Melbourne rider Ben Melham, has drawn barrier eight and O’Brien has no problem with that gate: “We’re happy with the barrier.

“He will camp just off the speed and be ready to pounce once they turn for home. He’s going into the Slipper in the best shape of his career and will run a mighty race, I’m sure.”

Running Tall, by 2005 Golden Slipper winner Stratum, was a $500,000 purchase and has already returned nearly half that outlay with $238,000 in prizemoney.

Blue Diamond winner Sepoy holds Golden Slipper favouritism at $3.20 ahead of the heavily-backed Smart Missile ($4.60) with Foxwedge ($9) the only other competitor under double-figure odds. Satin Shoes and Elite Falls ($11) head the remainder.

Bart Cummings’s colt Salade, a winner at his only raceday appearance, has remained steady at $13 despite drawing awkwardly in barrier 12.

Rocket and JJ throw down the challenge to Black Caviar

The only two valid challengers to Black Caviar’s title as the World’s best sprinter were both impressive winners at the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan over the weekend, but a clash between the trio appears a little while off reports Tony Bourke.

Singapore’s pin-up boy Rocket Man won the Group 1 Golden Shaheen (1200m) on the all-weather Tapeeta track, while South African cult hero JJ The Jet Plane added the Group 2 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) to his success in the Group 1 Hong Kong International Sprint (1200m) last December.

Rocket Man, now the winner of 14 races with four seconds from just 18 starts, made amends for his second to Kinsale King in last year’s Golden Shaheen, although his task was made easier when America’s defending champion was a surprise scratching.

Excited trainer Patrick Shaw was quick to issue a challenge to Black Caviar after Rocket Man’s triumph saying “bring her on” before adding that he would not be against them having a match race.

The one proviso from the Singapore camp is that it can’t interfere with Rocket Man’s current campaign which includes his nation’s premier sprint, the Group 1 KrisFlyer International Sprint (1200m) in May, which enters the Global Sprint Challenge for the first time in 2011.

South African trainer Michael ‘Lucky’ Houdalakis said JJ The Jet Plane would also contest the Krisflyer before going to England for leg six of the Global Sprint Challenge, the Darley July Cup (1200m) at Newmarket, in July.

“I’m not afraid of Black Caviar, but she’s got to come to us,” he said from the Meydan winner’s circle.

That means the first time that the three horses could possibly come together would be in this year’s Hong Kong International Sprint (1200m) on the second Sunday in December.

JJ The Jet Plane’s record now stands at 14 wins from 25 starts and Houdalakis said it was his fault that the six-year-old ran in the Group 2 sprint on World Cup night rather than against Rocket Man in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen.

“When I brought him to Dubai he was 20kgs above his best weight and I let him get away from me so he wasn’t ready for a tough 1200 metres,” he explained.

JJ The Jet Plane was checked several times down the Meydan straight course and looked like being a ‘good thing beaten’ before storming home over the last 100 metres to score.

Third across the line was former Melbourne sprinter Common Interest, who raced under the name Better Be The One for Singapore-based Michael Freedman.

Emotional World Cup triumph for Japan’s Melbourne Cup hero

It proved to be a fitting climax to a truly international occasion when Japanese horses Victoire Pisa and Transcend ran the quinella in the World’s richest race, the $US10 million Dubai World Cup (2000m), at Meydan on Saturday night (UAE time).

It was Japan’s first success in the coveted race, which was first run in 1996, and it provided a welcome release of emotion after what the Japanese have had to endure in their homeland over recent weeks.

Tears flowed freely as the connections led Victoire Pisa back to scale and it was sheer luck that the three Japanese horses that contested the World Cup had made it to Dubai in the first place.

They arrived in the UAE only two days before the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck Japan with the area that includes their home stables at the Meiho Training Centre among the worst hit.

Dubai’s ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum was one of the first to congratulate the winning owners and he said later it showed that “you don’t give up and you must carry on.”

Victoire Pisa is trained by Katsuhiko Sumii, the man who also gave Japan its historic first Emirates Melbourne Cup with Delta Blues defeating countryman and stablemate Pop Rock in 2006.

Ridden by Italian jockey Marco Demuro who made a bold forward move in the middle stages when the pace was remarkably slow, Victoire Pisa won by a half length over Transcend with Monterosso a neck away third after a checkered passage in the straight.

The other Japanese runner, the highly rated Buena Vista, had to go back from her wide barrier and never got into the sit-sprint affair.

The overall time of 2:05.94 was more than four seconds outside the average time for the 2000-metre trip since the Meydan track was opened just over 12 months ago.

In other news, Luca Cumani’s enigmatic Presvis finally had things go his way after a string of unlucky defeats to land the $US5 million Group 1 Dubai Duty Free (1800m) on the same night.

The seven-year-old’s only style of racing is to settle rearward and be kept for one late run which is always fraught with danger and frustration for his connections, but the Tatts Cox Plate target had his moment in the sun in Dubai.

After falling out of the barriers two to three lengths behind his rivals, jockey Ryan Moore weaved Presvis through the field from the top of the straight to score a memorable victory.

“He’s got a wonderful sprint but he always needs luck getting through a field. Ryan seems to have the knack of getting the best out of him,” Cumani said.

Cumani said if Presvis was human he’d be a loner, “he just likes to do his own thing and it’s hard to keep him interested.”

Cumani said because Presvis now knew ‘every inch’ of his Newmarket training tracks he had to find new things to keep him interested.

“That’s why we’re taking him to Hong Kong and Singapore for his next two races (in April and May),” he explained.

The Group 2 UAE Derby (1900m) proved to be a classic contest between two of the world’s most famous stables with Godolphin’s filly Khawlah getting the nod by a nose over Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore’s Master Of Hounds in a stirring finish.

It was the first time in seven years that O’Brien had taken on Godolphin on its home turf and it was also the first time Godolphin had run a filly against the colts in a Derby.

The win of Khawlah gave highly promising French apprentice Mickael Barzalona his first taste of international success.

Barzalona, who looks much younger than his 19 years, is apprenticed to French trainer Andre Fabre but is now getting a lot of opportunities for Godolphin whose head trainer Saeed bin Suroor described him as a major talent in the making.

Star females have Moody and Nolen in Heaven

Saturday’s Morphetville program saw a Peter Moody-trained, Luke Nolen-ridden female maintain her unbeaten record in a Group 1 event for the second time in 24 hours.

Untapped Zabeel mare Lights Of Heaven made it four wins from four starts when she outclassed her rivals in the $350,000 Group 1 Schweppes Oaks (2000m) at Adelaide’s Morphettville Racecourse.

The victory came less than 24 hours after Moody and Nolen combined to guide Black Caviar to an 11th-straight win in the Group 1 Pulse Pharmacy William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley.

And Lights Of Heaven’s success was even more comfortable than the champion sprinter’s.

While there were some rare anxious moments with Black Caviar midway through the William Reid, those who backed Lights Of Heaven into $2.20 favouritism never had any real cause for concern in the 2000m Oaks.

Nolen positioned her beautifully in fifth spot one off the fence before launching his run at the 500m. She had rounded up the leaders within 150m before pulling away for a dominant three-length win over fellow Victorian filly Absolutely and local star Southern Speed.

Lights Of Heaven’s win was the first leg of a Group 1 double for Victorian mares with Response following up with victory in the Sportingbet Classic for fillies and mares.

The Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra-trained four-year-old overcame one of the strongest mares’ sprint fields in years to add the 1200m event to the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) she won at Caulfield during the Spring Racing Carnival.

The daughter of Charge Forward cashed in on a gun Dwayne Dunn ride to get up along the inside and hold out fast-finishing $2.40 favourite Beaded with Valentine Miss close up in third spot.

The win atoned for an Oakleigh Plate hard-luck story and Newmarket Handicap fourth placing for Response, who has now won four of 13 starts and more than $763,000 in stakes.

Victoria’s females didn’t limit their interstate domination to Adelaide with Crown Oaks winner Brazilian Pulse taking out the $180,000 Group 3 Keith Nolan Classic at Rosehill in Sydney.

The Mike Moroney-trained class act made light work of the rise to 1800m second-up when she scored a strong win at her first start racing right-handed.

The daughter of Captain Rio, who burst through $1 million in earnings with the win, is now likely to back in next Saturday’s $400,000 Group 1 Storm Queen (2000m) at Rosehill.