Seguiring the publication of the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings (WBRR) for 2021 by the International Federation of Racing Authorities, thebreedingshed has made its annual analysis of the world’s top hundred or so horses to discover where they were bred and which sires were the most influential.
Click here for an analysis of last year’s (2020) WBR Rankings.
The World’s Best Racehorse was US dirt performer Knicks Go who earned his rating of 129 from winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He’s a son of the Haskell Invitational winner Paynter (himself by a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Impressive Again) who stands for just $10,000 in 2022.
Jointly best on turf with a rating of 127 were the 4yo Juddmonte International winner Mishriff (also winner of the Dubai Sheema Classic and, on dirt, the Saudi Cup), and the 3yos Adayar, winner of the Derby and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and St Mark’s Basilica, winner of the Poule d’Essai des Poulains, Prix du Jockey Club, Eclipse Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes.
The top milers, rated 125, were Hong Kong’s prolific winner Golden Sixty, winner of his second Hong Kong Mile, the unbeaten Baaeed, winner of the Prix du Moulin and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and the horse he beat in the latter race, Palace Pier, who won the Lockinge Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes and, for the second year running the Prix Jacques le Marois.
The world’s best turf sprinter was Australia’s Nature Strip (124), whose three Group 1 wins included the T J Smith Stakes for the second time, and Australia also had the highest-rated (and most versatile?) filly or mare, Verry Elleegant (123), a Group 1 winner from a mile to two miles, successful in the Melbourne Cup.
A rating of 118 or more is required to feature in an approximate ‘top hundred’ of the world’s best horses. The actual number of horses rated 118 or more in 2021 was 103 and as the table below shows, this number has decreased each year since 2017.
The table shows the distribution of the horses in the ‘top hundred’ in 2021 compared with the previous five years and is based on their country of origin (as denoted by their suffix), not the country in which they were trained. The highest-rated representative in 2021 for each country is also shown.
|ARG||2||1||1||1||Village King (119)|
|AUS||13||17||21||17||17||10||Golden Sixty (125)|
|FR||7||3||5||2||5||4||St Mark’s Basilica (127)|
|GB||15||17||16||21||10||12||Baaeed, Palace Pier (125)|
|GER||2||5||3||2||Torquator Tasso (125)|
|IRE||23||27||19||21||26||29||Adayar, Mishriff (127)|
|NZ||6||6||5||2||2||1||Verry Elleegant (123)|
|SAF||3||5||5||4||5||2||Do It Again, Rainbow Bridge (119)|
|USA||21||28||24||17||22||22||Knicks Go (129)|
Ireland retained its position as the top producer of the world’s best horses with a total of 29 (which beat the USA’s 28 in 2017). Numbers for USA and Japan held up well but the number of Australian-bred horses in the ‘top hundred’ fell markedly and it was Hong Kong export Golden Sixty who was the highest-rated Australian-bred horse. South Africa also had its smallest number of horses in the ‘top hundred’ in the last six years but Germany made a welcome return to the ‘top hundred’ for the first time since 2018 with two horses, including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Torquator Tasso.
The following 15 sires had two or more horses in the top hundred:
DEEP IMPACT (9): Contrail (126), Glory Vase (123), Gran Alegria (120), Shahryar (120), Snowfall (120), World Premiere (119), Danon Kingly (118), Lei Papale (118), Amors Only You (118)
DUBAWI (5): Lord North (120), Yibir (120), Creative Force (118), Space Blues (118), The Revenant (118)
AUSTRALIA (4): Broome (118), Mare Australis (118), Orden of Australia (118), Sir Ron Priestley (118)
FRANKEL (3): Adayar (127), Hurricane Lane (123), Alpinista (118)
INTO MISCHIEF (3): Life Is Good (124), Mandaloun (121), Gamine (118)
KINGMAN (3): Palace Pier (125), Domestic Spending (122), Schnell Meister (119)
SEA THE STARS (3): Baaeed (125), Al Aasy (119), Stradivarius (118)
BAGO (2): Chrono Genesis (120), Stella Veloce (119)
CAMELOT (2): Russian Camelot (118), Sir Dragonet (118)
DUTCH ART (2): Starman (119), More Than This (118)
GALILEO (2): Lone Eagle (119), Amor (118)
HARBOUR WATCH (2): Pyledriver (120), Waikuku (118)
NO NAY NEVER (2): Alcohol Free (119), Unicorn Lion (118)
TAPIT (2): Flightline (124), Essential Quality (123)
TEOFILO (2): Subjectivist (123), Exultant (120)
For the third year running, Deep Impact, who died in 2019, had more horses in the top hundred than any other sire. Five of his nine horses made the top hundred for the second year running and once again it was Contrail, winner of the Japan Cup in 2021, who was his best horse. His other star performers included Glory Vase who won his second Hong Kong Vase, Gran Alegria who repeated her 2020 success in the Mile Championship, and Shahryar who was Deep impact’s seventh Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner and fourth in a row. Deep Impact’s classic winners weren’t confined to Japan as the ill-fated Irish filly Snowfall won the Oaks by a record margin before following up in the Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks. The Japanese-trained mare Amors Only You won two big prizes overseas, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong and the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Also for the third year running, Dubawi was among the top three sires of the world’s top hundred horses. Two of his five horses rated 118+ were Breeders’ Cup winners for Godolphin, Yibir in the Turf and Space Blues in the Mile.
Galileo, who died in July, had the most horses in the top hundred in 2016 and 2017, jointly held that honour with Deep Impact and Sea The Stars in 2018 and was second only to Deep Impact in 2019 and 2020 but he had a quiet year in 2021 with only Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle and Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Amor making the top hundred.
On the other hand it was a good year for Galileo’s son Australia whose four horses (all rated 118) were Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner and Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up Broome, Prix Ganay winner Mare Australis, Sir Ron Priestley, a dual Group 2 winner in the Jockey Club Stakes and Princess of Wales’s Stakes, and Orden of Australia, winner of the Group 2 Minstrel Stakes and placed in the Prix Jacques le Marois and Prix du Moulin.
Another of Galileo’s sons and his successor as champion sire in Britain and Ireland, Frankel, had three winners headed by Adayar, already mentioned above. St Leger and Irish Derby winner Hurricane Lane was his other classic winner, while his 4yo British-trained daughter Alpinista won three Group 1 contests in Germany.
Frankel’s Juddmonte studmate Kingman also had three horses in the top hundred in three different continents. As well as Palace Pier, already mentioned, he had the Manhattan Stakes and Turf Classic winner Domestic Spending in the US and the German-bred Schnell Meister who won the NHK Mile in Japan.
Also with three winners were leading US sire Into Mischief, whose trio was headed by Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Life Is Good, and Sea The Stars whose best horse was the aforementioned Baaeed.
Of the sires with two horses in the top hundred, the Japanese-based 2004 Arc winner Bago is worth mentioning, with daughter Chrono Genesis winning the Takarazuka Kinen for the second year and son Stella Veloce finishing third in two classics, the Satsuki Sho and Tokyo Yushun.
Pyledriver and Waikuku were the late Harbour Watch’s two representatives in the top hundred for the second year running. Pyledriver won the Coronation Cup and finished second in the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin where Waikuku won the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup.
Another British-based sire with two horses in the top hundred was Dutch Art thanks to July Cup winner Starman and the Hong Kong gelding More Than This who was runner-up to Golden Sixty in the Champions Mile and Hong Kong Mile.