The Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings, is racing's equivalent of the World Rankings created by other major sporting organizations, such as ATP Tennis Rankings, World Golf Rankings or FIFA World Rankings for Football.
Racing officials & handicappers representing the five continents work under the umbrella of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), in compiling the ranking order by agreeing on the rating for each horse. The ratings are based on the performance of horses in elite races held during a designated period taking into account the standard of opposition and achievements of each horse.
The rankings are published at regular intervals throughout the year, then consolidated for an annual rating in January. Of course the rankings have no bearing on the every-day ‘nitty gritty’ of winning top-class races, but there is great prestige for owners and breeders in having their horse known as one of the World’s Best, at a given time.
Ranking elite racehorses is just one of the numerous tasks taken on by the IFHA, since the organisation came into being back in the 1990s.
In 1961, the Horseracing Authorities of America, France, Great Britain and Ireland set about coordinating their actions in an attempt to protect the integrity of racing, with the aim of promoting success for the best horses, thereby improving the quality of the breeding industry.
An International Conference was created in 1967, held in Paris, with authorities coming together to debate vital horse racing issues. In 1993 the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities was founded, pulling together around sixty members. The authority had several lofty objectives, including; to standardise the rules regarding breeding, racing and gambling; to ensure racing is fair, and in the interest of both breeders and the public; to organize racing events, ensuring the safety of people attending along with promoting the welfare of the horses; and to continue to evolve as an organisation, especially around technical and social advances.
As ever, an executive council oversee matters, with the BHA’s Nick Rust and the Irish Turf Club’s Denis Egan, two of the better known members. Various Committees have been established to look at different aspects of the sport. The Horse Welfare Committee, and the Technical Advisory Committee are two such examples.
Such huge organisations will often be looked upon with a certain degree of suspicion. Though FIFA have done a great deal of good around the World in promoting football to the masses, few would now wholly trust the organisation in the light of recent events.
Nevertheless, the IFHA are playing a huge role in promoting the sport of racing around the globe, encouraging and overseeing good regulation and best practices on an international scale. Continued global initiatives are designed to support the industry and develop national markets. There’s little doubt in recent years that ‘the flow’ of the racing calendar, especially in Flat racing, has become a finely tuned process.
From the UK to France, from America to Hong Kong and from Australia to Dubai and all the way back again, the trail from April to April for owners, trainers and breeders has never presented such a wealth of opportunity.
So if the IFHA look to be doing a reasonable job (admittedly I’ve hardly scratched the surface), what of these Longines Rankings.
The problem, inevitably, with these rankings, is that racing is a fluid process. One horse can look sensational in one particular event, but can then be ‘turned over’ in his or her very next outing. Horses can put in an exceptional performance which they are unable to repeat. The current World’s Best Racehorse Rankings cover the period from January 1 through to August 7. On top of the pile with a rating of 129 is A Shin Hikari.
The Japanese five-year-old has 10 wins from 13 career starts, and won the Hong Kong Cup back in December. His return to action in May at Chantilly propelled him to his current lofty status, when he was an emphatic winner of the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan. It was an eye-catching performance run in testing conditions. He defeated several decent types, though the form of the race has taken several knocks.
Dariyan was second, and has since been thrashed in the Juddmonte International at York. Vadamos was back in fourth, but is undoubtedly a far better horse over a mile, and on a sounder surface. Silverwave was beaten a long way in third, though for him the trip would have been on the short side, and he also would prefer a better surface.
A Shin Hikari failed to spark in his next outing, when a disappointing sixth of six in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot. Throughout his career he’s been known to throw-in the odd stinker, and the question now, is whether he really is the ‘real deal’, or whether one exceptional performance has elevated him to a false position?
California Chrome sits in second spot on a rating of 128. That figure wouldn’t take into account his latest romp in the Pacific Classic at Del mar. You’d fancy such a performance will see him leapfrog the Japanese horse when the next rankings are produced in mid-September.
Another pair that certainly have the potential to move higher up the ratings are Postponed (124), and Harzand currently at 123. The pair are set to clash in the Arc at Chantilly, with the latter likely to warm-up in the Prix Niel.
With so many high profile events, including the Arc and the Breeders’ Cup, just around the corner, the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings Committee, will have their work cut out, ahead of finally settling on the name of this season’s World’s Best Racehorse.
For those looking for further information on the IFHA go to their website ifhaonline.org