Australian sprinters rule the world

Australian sprinters have again been recognised as the best in the world following the overnight (AET) release of the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings (WBRR) for 2014 by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA).

Australian-trained horses dominated the Sprint Division of the world rankings, providing the three highest rated horses in the category. LANKAN RUPEE (123) and TERRAVISTA (123) shared the title of Champion Sprinter in the World, ahead of CHAUTAUQUA (122).

LANKAN RUPEE was unbeatable in a summer-autumn campaign that saw him claim the Group 1 treble of the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield, Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington and T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.

The son of Redoute’s Choice, who was crowned the Australian Racehorse of the Year in October, returned in the Spring Racing Carnival to win the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley.

LANKAN RUPEE received his mark of 123 in the Newmarket Handicap, where he carried 56.5kg to victory, beating crack Queensland sprinter SPIRIT OF BOOM (115) by more than two lengths.

The Mick Price-trained sprinter again achieved a rating of 123 in his dominant victory in the T.J. Smith Stakes where his rider, Craig Newitt, controlled the race from the front and won comfortably from REBEL DANE (116) and BUFFERING (117).

After a series of Stakes wins in Sydney in early 2014, the Joseph Pride-trained TERRAVISTA ventured to Melbourne during the Spring Racing Carnival where he was an emphatic winner of the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington, relegating LANKAN RUPEE into third place and running to a career high mark of 123.

Splitting the pair in the Darley Classic was the Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes-trained gelding CHAUTAUQUA who, after dominant wins in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) and Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m), received a WBRR ranking of 122 for his long-head defeat by TERRAVISTA in the Darley Classic.

Australia’s WBRR representative, Greg Carpenter, said the rating assigned to LANKAN RUPEE and TERRAVISTA was an accurate reflection of the standard of the Australian sprinting ranks.

“To have three Australian sprinters ranked so highly in the same year is quite rare and it underlines the strength and respect that our sprinters have on the world stage,” Carpenter said.

“2014 was a breakout year for LANKAN RUPEE, TERRAVISTA and CHAUTAUQUA and their high rankings underscore the exciting year ahead for Australian racing fans.

The other Australian-trained horses to achieve ratings in the elite level of 120 or higher were the Peter Moody-trained DISSIDENT (121) and star miler SACRED FALLS (120).

DISSIDENT won three Group 1 races in 2014 but achieved his high mark when 2nd to TRUST IN A GUST (116) in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Charity Cup (1400m) at Caulfield, where he gave the winner 6kg in weight and was narrowly beaten in a driving finish.

SACRED FALLS led a remarkable first-four finish for trainer Chris Waller when winning his second Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick in April. He achieved a career high rating of 120 in that race and again ran to the same mark when runner up to IT’S A DUNDEEL in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at his next start.

“In all, 40 Australian-trained horses were included in the listings, a great result for Australian racing.” Carpenter said. “A further nine internationally trained horses recorded performances of 115 or higher in Australian races.”

No less than eight Group 1 races during Sydney’s inaugural The Championships and Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival were won by horses trained outside of Australia, including victories by New Zealand-trained gallopers IT’S A DUNDEEL and SILENT ACHIEVER during The Championships.

German star PROTECTIONIST achieved a ranking of 120 for his dominant Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) win, which stands him alongside Japan’s GOLD SHIP as the world’s highest rated stayer for 2014. Gold Ship achieved a rating of 120 when defeating Admire Rakti in the Group 2 Hanshin Daishoten over 3000m in March.

The Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) winner IT’S A DUNDEEL (122), Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup hero ADMIRE RAKTI (121), Cox Plate-winning Irish colt ADELAIDE (120), SILENT ACHIEVER (117), GORDON LORD BYRON (116), SIDE GLANCE (116), FARRAAJ (115) and evergreen UK stayer RED CADEAUX (115) were other internationally-trained horses who achieved a rating of 115+ in Australian races.

And while Australia could lay claim to the world’s joint highest ranked horse in 2013 with BLACK CAVIAR, 2014 will be remembered as the year when the World’s Best Racehorse was trained in Japan for the first time.

Japan secured the top two rankings in the world last year courtesy of Group 1 Dubai Duty Free (1800m) winner JUST A WAY (130) and the outstanding Group 1 Japan Cup (2400m) winner EPIPHANEIA (129).

Overall, the 10 top ranked horses in the WBRR comprised five from Europe, three from Asia, one from North America and one from South Africa.

Five horses achieved a ranking of 127 in 2014, including Australian-bred galloper ABLE FRIEND who was a devastating five length winner of the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile (1600m) in December.

Group 1-winning European three-year-olds AUSTRALIA, THE GREY GATSBY and KINGMAN were also given a ranking of 127, alongside South African six-year-old VARIETY CLUB, a winner of the Group 1 Champions Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin in May.

Champion French mare TREVE received a ranking of 126 after she successfully defended her Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) crown at Longchamp in October while Bob Baffert’s Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic (2000m) hero BAYERN and Group 1 Deutsches Derby (2400m) winner SEA THE MOON rounded out the top 10, each with a ranking of 125.

To merit inclusion in the rankings, a horse must have been rated at 115 or above in the period under review. In total 309 horses from 19 individual countries made it into the 2014 listings.