Ausgabe 653 vom Freitag, 29.01.2021
The International Classifications were published this week, the worldwide official ratings of the best horses in the world of thoroughbred racing. Obviously not every horse can be listed, the ratings start at 115 (German GAG 97.5) for 3yo´s and up and at 110 (German GAG 95) for 2yo´s. Among the many statistics provided, one of great interest is that of the world´s best 100 races, which is calculated by taking the average ratings of the first four to finish. The figures for 2020 make very positive reading from the German point of view.
Three German races are included in the top 100: the Deutsches Derby and the Preis von Europa, both with an average rating of 116.5 and joint 68th and the Grosser Preis von Bayern, with an average of 116 and joint 82nd. This may not sound very impressive, but it is in fact one of the best German results for many years. It is worth noting that these three races, all Group One events, are all over the “classic” distance of twelve furlongs (2400 metres); this is no huge surprise, given that five of the German Group One races are over this distance, but the general trend is towards ten furlong races (2000 metres), and therefore the top two races in the world in 2020 by this yardstick were the Juddmonte International at York in mid-August and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in September, both over 2000 metres.
Third and fourth in the list are two races over 2400 metres, the Japan Cup, a fantastic race last year and won by the now retired brilliant mare Almond Eye (Lord Kanaloa), and the Breeders´Cup Turf, also won by a member of the fair sex, the Aga Khan´s Tarnawa (Shamardal), trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld. The nest two races in the top ten are the Tenno Sho Autumn and the Coral Eclipse Stakes, both 2000 metres events, followed by two mile races, the Prix Jacques le Marois and the Yasuda Kinen. The race over the longest distance is the Arima Kinen over 2500 metres, meaning that there are four Japanese races in the top ten, more than from any other country.
One event rather surprisingly missing from the top ten is the Prix de l´Arc de Triomphe, usually regarded as the best race in the world and very often top of the rankings. In 2020 it was not even in the top ten and the winner Sottsass (Siyouni) is clearly regarded by the international handicappers as a substandard winner of the race. This seems a bit unfair, as Sottsass, now embarking on a new career at Coolmore, was certainly very smart. The Arc runner-up, the German-bred and -owned In Swoop (Adlerflug) is on 122 (German GAG 121), which makes him the highest –rated German 3yo since Sea The Moon (Sea The Stars) in 2014.Even though one would like to see him slightly higher, this is still a huge compliment, and in fact the German Derby was without doubt one of the success stories of the 2020 season.
In fact according to the official ratings, the Deutsches Derby, with a top 4 average rating of 116.5, comes out higher than the equivalent races in England, France and Ireland, and that does not happen very often. One has to go back to the legendary 1993 race, in which Lando defeated Monsun and Sternkönig, to find a stronger German Derby; the form of that event, subsequently given a huge boost by the later Group One exploits of the first two, worked out extremely well, and one has to hope that In Swoop, Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug) and Kaspar (Pivotal), officially the first three, do the same for the 2020 Deutsches Derby; not to mention Grocer Jack (Oasis Dream), who actually passed the post in third but was later disqualified after testing positive to a prohibited substance (as a result of contaminated feed) and could still prove to be the best of them all, especially over the fashionable 2000 metres distance. And I would also mention Dicaprio, (another son of Adlerflug), who finished seventh in the Derby but later showed himself almost the equal of Hamburg runner-up Torquator Tasso. At all events, the German team looks well equipped for the coming European season and it would certainly come as no surprise were a German-bred performer win one of the world´s top races in 2021, or for that matter in 2022 when one considers that German-breds are often late developers and frequently show their best form at five.
This certainly applies to the offspring of Adlerflug (In The Wings), Germany´s champion sire of 2020 who had his best ever season. His fee has been raised to 16,000 euros, but that is still a bargain by international standards, so this week´s report that he is fully booked for this season (including 20 mares from leading international breeders) is certainly understandable.
Another German Derby success for Adlerflug (who himself won the race in 2007) is by no means impossible, as his son Mythico, out of a Monsun mare, was a good winner of the Herzog von Ratibor-Rennen last November, a race that has often produced top 3yo´s the following season. Mythico, trained by Jean-Pierre Carvalho at Mülheim, earlier finished third in the Preis des Winterfavoriten at Cologne, traditionally Germany´s best 2yo race. The winner of that race last October, Stall Lintec´s homebred Best Of Lips (The Gurkha), is therefore logically Germany´s top-rated juvenile of 2020. He has been given a rating of 111 (GAG 95.5) and is the only German 2yo in the ratings. Top-rated is St. Mark´s Basilica (Siyouni), trained in Ireland by Aidan O´Brien and winner of Newmarket´s Dewhurst Stakes, the top 2yo race of the season. Seven of the top ten juveniles were trained in Ireland, most of them by O´Brien, but that is nothing new.
The top-rated horse of them all is the 5yo Ghaiyyath (Dubawi), bred by the Weld family´s Springbank Way Stud, owned by Godolphin and trained in Newmarket by Charlie Appleby; he is rated 130 and this is another compliment to German form as Ghaiyyath´s star really began to shine at Baden-Baden in 2019, when he was such a convincing winner of the Grosser Preis von Baden. Last year he added the Coronation Cup, the Eclipse Stakes and the Juddmonte International to his record, the last-named race of course also being rated the best race of the whole year.
To a certain extent these ratings are for nerds, and there will no doubt be many complaints from owners or trainers whose horses have in their opinion been treated unfairly, or from racing fans who disagree with the ratings. The only real proof of a horse´s true ability comes on the racecourse, but we can certainly have some fun this year following the fortunes of the top-rated horses – assuming of course that top class racing takes place this year, and one hopes with racegoers on the track as well. This writer is an optimist and hopes that racing will be back to near normal by July, and in particular that we shall have plenty of opportunities to cheer home the best German horses of 2020 in the top races of 2021.