The latest Longines Thoroughbred World Rankings have been released, keeping Sir Michael Stoute’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner and King George runner-up Crystal Ocean at the top.
After his neck defeat to supermare Enable at Ascot he remains on a mark of 127, now one ahead of John Gosden’s charge on 126 and this has led yet again to a host bolshie social media comments from those who cannot seem to understand how such ratings work.
Make no mistake; Enable is simply wonderful and it is unusual for a female thoroughbred to reach a mark as high as this. The fact that fillies and mares are a little weaker than their male counterparts is precisely why they receive weight in conditions races, just as Enable did when going up against Crystal Ocean.
The rankings are very matter of fact. Gender is not considered. Put simply, regardless of sex, the question is “how good is a certain horse, from point A to point B?” Given that Crystal Ocean gave weight away to Enable and only went down by a neck, it’s a very simple science to conclude that he is narrowly the better horse right now.
This is the reason why we have official ratings and, separately, horse of the year awards and such. Some horses, such as Stradivarius or last year’s hero Roaring Lion strictly speaking may not get to the top of the rankings but capture the public’s collective heart with their long winning runs.
It’s right that we lavish them and their connections with accolades, but it doesn’t make them the quickest animals on the planet between the start and the end of a race.
Case in point Cracksman, who finished last season as top-rated on 130 having run to that mark in the Champion Stakes, only once. This drew criticism from casual punters and observers, but for no good reason. Waiting for soft ground and running to that level once in a season will not win him horse of the year, but it remains a fact that it was the best performance anywhere on the planet and is recognised as such.
All sports, whether we like or not, come down to numbers. Take football where press, public and players can vote for their team, manager or player of the year based on opinion. But the team that wins the championship every year is the one that accumulates the most points no questions asked and, in that regard, the ‘best horse in the world’ is that one that can put in the best individual performance in a race.
Here’s how the rankings look for those still in training as of August 9th:
127 Crystal Ocean (Sir Michael Stoute, England)
126 Enable (John Gosden, England)
125 Beauty Generation (John Moore, Hong Kong)
125 City Of Light (Michael McCarthy, USA)
124 Santa Ana Lane (Anthony Freedman, Australia)
124 Waldgeist (Andre Fabre, France)
123 Happy Clapper (Patrick Webster, Australia)
123 McKinzie (Bob Baffert, USA)
122 Magical (Aidan O’Brien, Ireland)
122 Old Persian (Charlie Appleby, England)
122 Ten Sovereigns (Aidan O’Brien, Ireland)
121 Battaash (Charlie Hills, England)
121 Stradivarius (John Gosden, England)
121 Mustashry (Sir Michael Stoute, England)