Crystal Ocean, Enable, Waldgeist Joint World's Best

Enable and Frankie Dettori | Amy Lanigan


LONDON, UK–Every racing fan has their own idea of which horse is the best, but when it came to settling the top horse of 2019 on official figures, there was not one but three. The Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings, announced in London's Landmark Hotel on Wednesday afternoon, delivered the unique situation of a three-way tie for top honours between Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}), Crystal Ocean (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and Waldgeist (GB) (Galileo {Ire}). Look back to the replay of the G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO S. from last July and you will find the trio finishing in the order above, and it was for this race that the runner-up, Crystal Ocean, was given his year-high mark of 128 when giving three pounds to Enable and finishing just a neck behind her in a bravely fought finish. Enable's matching mark was achieved in her next race, the G1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks, the final race in Britain for the mare last year before she took her seasonal bow in the G1 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. And from this Paris showdown, her conqueror Waldgeist was also awarded 128, the trio having been judged to be a pound clear of the performance of the Hong Kong-trained Beauty Generation (NZ) (Road To Rock {Aus}) in the G3 Celebration Cup.

All foaled in Britain, the leading trio all raced for their breeders: Enable of course represents Prince Khalid Abdullah's powerful Juddmonte operation, while Crystal Ocean, bred at Southcourt Stud, carried the colours of Sir Evelyn de Rothschild to victory on eight occasions, including in last season's G1 Prince of Wales's S. He was trained by Sir Michael Stoute just metres along the road from where Enable is stabled at John Gosden's Clarehaven. Meanwhile, Waldgeist, now resident at Ballylinch Stud in Ireland ahead of the start of the covering season, was bred by the Waldlerche Partnership which consists of Gestut Ammerland, Newsells Park Stud and Coolmore. The latter relinquished their ownership in him in 2017, after which he continued to race for the other two partners.

Coolmore still has a link to one of the top trio, however, as Crystal Ocean has recently taken up residence on its National Hunt roster at Beeches Stud.

In acknowledging the achievements of Crystal Ocean, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild also paid tribute to his late sister, who died in 2015 and was also a successful National Hunt trainer. He said, “My sister Renee Robeson ran the breeding side for many years and I ran the racing. Our stud has been in existence for over 200 years and this is a very proud moment. Among the many horses that my father and grandfather have bred, this is one of the greatest of them all. He's probably one of the most consistent horses I've ever known. He always tried and he always succeeded in finishing among the first three.”

While her peers have now moved on to their respective stud careers, Enable is back in training for a fifth season and looked resplendent when paraded at Gosden's yard on Monday morning.

“Every sport needs a champion and she has really captured the imagination, she has attracted people to the sport,” said her jockey Frankie Dettori. “It's very rare we get this kind of horse and it's going to be a lot of pressure [this season] for me and for John [Gosden] and Prince Khalid Abdullah but let's just enjoy it.”

Andreas Jacobs, whose late father Klaus bought Newsells Park Stud at the turn of the century and also owns Gestut Fahrhof in his native Germany, was in London with co-breeder Dietrich von Boetticher to receive the award on Waldgeist's behalf. He said, “I have to salute my father who bought his grandam, Waldmark, as a foal. She was the first horse bought for Newsells Park Stud. The Arc was a race I dreamt to win when I was five or six years old and it just made the season exceptional.”

The phenomenally consistent 7-year-old Beauty Generation, trained by John Moore, flew the flag for the Southern Hemisphere-breds on 127, while an international quartet was awarded a mark of 126. These were the highest-rated sprinter, Shadwell's Battaash (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), who achieved this rating for his record-breaking G1 Coolmore Nunthorpe S. victory; Godolphin's wide-margin G1 Longines Grosser Preis Von Baden winner Ghaiyyath (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}); Japan's Horse of the Year Lys Gracieux (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}) for her G1 Arima Kinen win, and GI Longines Breeders' Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso (Curlin), who was deemed the world's top-rated dirt horse.

Also tied on 125 were Benbatl (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), the five-length winner of the G2 Shadwell Joel S., G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase hero Glory Vase (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), and Australia's darling Winx (Aus) (Street Cry {Ire}), who bowed out permanently from racing on Apr. 13 with an extraordinary 25 Group 1 victories to her name.

The G1 Tenno Sho victrix Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}), dual Royal Ascot winner Blue Point (Ire) (Shamardal), City Of Light (Quality Road), for his GI Pegasus World Cup victory, and G1 TJ Smith S.-winning sprinter Santa Ana Lane (Aus) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) were all level on 124.

Stradivarius (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) was king of the staying division having been awarded a mark of 122 for his runs in both the G1 Qatar Goodwood Cup and G2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup. A total of 296 horses, trained in 17 different countries, were rated 115 or higher.

Arc On High Again

The IFHA also released its top 100 Group/Grade 1 races on Wednesday with the rankings calculated from the ratings of the first four horses home.

Only once since the award was created in 2015 has the Longines World's Best Horse Race not been awarded to the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which was the winner for the fourth time on 126.25, with the first four placed filled by the Group 1 winners Waldgeist, Enable, Sottsass (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) and Japan (GB) (Galileo {Ire}). The Breeders' Cup Classic is the only other race to have been given this accolade to date, in 2016.

Completing the list of top 10 races for 2019 are the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO S. (125.75), Prince of Wales's S. (124.25), Coral-Eclipse S. (123.00), Takarazuka Kinen (122.25), Arima Kinen (122.00), Juddmonte International S. (122.00), Australia's Longines Queen Elizabeth S. (122.00), Ladbrokes Cox Plate (121.75), QEII Cup (121.50), and the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (121.50).

Britain heads the list of 10 countries with races in the top 100 with 21 of the leading contests, with Australia and America tied for second on 20 and Japan next with 11.

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