Taking top rank
It’s that time of year again. The Longines thoroughbred rankings are out and the lively, sometimes very frank, discussion can get under way.
Before we begin I think we need to remind ourselves that these ratings are based on the best individual performance throughout 2019. It doesn’t say that one horse is necessarily better than the other. We all have our own opinions on that anyway.
Ok. So let’s start at the top where we have a three way tie.
Enable, Crystal Ocean, and Waldgeist have all been lumped together on a mark of 128. They were the first three home in that epic King George at Ascot in July but only Crystal Ocean gets his highest rating from that race.
He was giving Enable 3lbs in that race so his run is upgraded despite being defeated.
Enable got her score for her Yorkshire Oaks win where she beat Magical with a little bit in hand. They were well clear of the other two runners which may be why it was rated so highly.
Waldgeist was given his mark for the Arc win which was expected. He had his best season even without that Longchamp win.
For what it’s worth, and much as I hate to desert the Queen Of The Turf, I would have Crystal Ocean on top with Waldgeist just behind and Enable in third.
I don’t rate the Yorkshire Oaks win as highly as the King George win, even with the allowance.
But I still think Enable is the better horse overall. Just my opinion. And I hope she proves it again this year.
But back to the rankings. I have no problem with Battaash being given 126. That Nunthorpe run was special. And sprinters struggle to get into the top ten so he has done well.
Blue Point was probably the best sprinter last year but, despite winning twice at Royal Ascot, he is just outside the top ten.
But Ghaiyyath is on the same mark as Battaash and that troubles me. Yes he did win a Group One by fourteen lengths. But it was in Germany and his rivals were not top class. They would struggle in a Group Three over here. He is not a genuine Group One performer in my eyes.
I would have Magical ahead of him every time but, even with her allowance, she is rated a pound inferior.
Benbatl is another tricky one for me. He has only the one win in a European Group One and that was in Germany. He is in because of his five length win in the Group Two Joel Stakes. He beat King Of Comedy but that horse seemed more hype than substance.
The likes of Zaaki and Happy Power were behind so it was a solid Group Two but was it the top run over a mile in Europe?
Hong Kong’s Beauty Generation is in fourth place in the list and that is due to his performance in a handicap. The Celebration Cup saw him carrying a stone more than his rivals and still winning.
None of the Classic winners are in the list. Indeed the highest rated three year olds are Sottsass and Japan who filled the minor places in the Arc. I also note that all of the top rated performances were in the latter half of the year.
Is this because those doing the marking use the first few months to get a base line for their calculations? And then they can assess properly the level of the runs. Or maybe it is because the really big all aged races in Europe take place from July onwards.
Pinatubo has been given a rating of 128 by the BHA. Only two juveniles, Arazi and Celtic Swing, have ended their two year old season on a higher mark.
Pinatubo has been rated higher than Frankel at the comparative stage of their careers which will cause steam to exit from the ears of some Frankel fans. However he deserves to be ahead of Frankel at this stage.
Whether Charlie Appleby’s 2000 Guineas hope can go on to peak in the high 130’s this year is open to question (Frankel reached 140 at his peak). And there are a few who have doubts about his ability to get a mile.
But his National Stakes win was a thing of rare beauty. And he is one horse to look forward to for 2020.