Equinox Crowned Longines World's Best Racehorse 

Equinox and the Japan Cup were the big winners at the Longines World Racing Awards in London | JRA

LONDON, UK — Japan stole the show at the Longines World Racing Awards in London, with Silk Racing's Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}) named the Longines World's Best Racehorse for 2023 while the G1 Japan Cup claimed the title of Longines World's Best Horse Race. The top-rated three-year-old filly in the world was Japan's Triple Tiara winner Liberty Island (Jpn) (Duramente {Jpn}).

Equinox's top rating of 135 – the highest ever awarded to a Japanese horse – was achieved in his four-length romp in the Japan Cup, his final appearance on a racecourse in which he had Liberty Island and her fellow Classic winners Stars On Earth (Jpn) and Do Deuce (Jpn) behind him. Such a strong first four meant that the 2023 running of the Japan Cup was awarded a rating of 126.75.

Trainers, jockeys, owners and breeders from across the racing world attended the ceremony at the Savoy to celebrate the 11th time that Longines and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) had joined forces to celebrate the best in the sport. 

The Tetsuya Kimura-trained Equinox was the second Japanese horse to receive the accolade after Just A Way (Jpn) in 2014. Ridden throughout his career by Christophe Lemaire, he was unbeaten in 2023, with his other victories coming in the G1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic, G1 Takarazuka Kinen (G1), and G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn).

“To be honest it was quite enjoyable,” said Lemaire with no little understatement of his association with Equinox as he accepted his award on Tuesday.

“Each time he ran there was a big expectation but on that horse I had such confidence. I tried to do my job as well as possible and I will miss him a lot. Like most top athletes he had a combination of physical strength and mental strength. His physical strength allowed him to run fast and use his beautiful stride. Also he was very clever, is he understood very quickly what he had to do to win. My job was just to get a good start and put him in a good position to let him express his talent.”

He added, “He was nearly the perfect racehorse and we have to congratulate the breeder for producing such a beautiful horse and the trainer for allowing him to mature and getting the best out of him. 

“Equinox was something special. He had an aura. Most of the people first discovered him in Dubai but in Japan he was already a rising star.”

Masashi Yonemoto, the CEO of Equinox's 300-strong ownership group Silk Racing, was in London to collect his award along with Kimura and Lemaire. A strong Japanese contingent was bolstered by the presence of Masayoshi Yoshida, the president of the Japan Racing Association (JRA), and Masayuki Goto, the JRA's executive adviser of international affairs, who received the trophy for the world's best race, which was a first for the Japan Cup in its 43-year history.

Equinox was rated 7lbs clear of last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, the unbeaten Ace Impact (Fr) (Cracksman {GB}), who was joint-second in the ratings with the G1 Prince of Wales's S. and Juddmonte International winner Mostahdaf (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) on 128. They were thus Europe's top-rated runners for 2023, a pound clear of G1 Queen Elizabeth S. winner Big Rock (Ire) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire}) and the G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. winner Hukum (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) who were joint fourth on 127.

Hukum's runner-up at Ascot, Westover (GB) (Frankel {GB}), and Hong Kong's champion Golden Sixty (Aus) were next on 126, while the dual Derby winner Auguste Rodin (Ire) was awarded a mark of 125 for his victory in the G1 Longines Breeders' Cup Turf, the same as Lucky Sweynesse (NZ), who was judged to have run to that mark on three occasions at Sha Tin and was the top-rated sprinter in the world.

There was a five-way tie for tenth place with a rating of 124 having been awarded to White Abarrio (Race Day), Cody's Wish (Curlin), Do Deuce (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}), Titleholder (Jpn) (Duramente {Jpn}) and Paddington (GB) (Siyouni {Fr}).

In total, 36 horses achieved a rating in excess of 120. Of these, nine were trained in Britain, seven in Japan, seven in the USA, four in Hong Kong, and three each in France, Ireland and Australia. Frankel was the sire of four of the top 15 horses in Europe – Mostahdaf, Westover, Onesto (Ire) and Triple Time (Ire) – and grandsire of the co-top-rated Ace Impact, who was also the highest-rated three-year-old in the world. 

It was a particularly good year for European three-year-old colts, with Ace Impact being joined by Big Rock, Auguste Rodin, Paddington and King Of Steel among the top 20 horses globally. 

Three of the four top-rated fillies or mares in the world were also trained in Europe and all hail from the Newmarket stable of John and Thady Gosden. Emily Upjohn (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) was awarded a mark of 121 for her G1 Dahlbury Coronation Cup win, while Inspiral (GB) (Frankel {GB}) was on 120 for her success in the G1 Prix Jacques Le Marois, the same mark given to Nashwa (GB) (Frankel {GB}) for her G1 Falmouth S. win. The aforementioned Liberty Island tied with Emily Upjohn on a mark of 121.

Also on 121 was the top-rated stayer, Sheikh Mohammed Obaid's Melbourne Cup winner Without A Fight (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}), who started his career with Simon and Ed Crisford in Britain before switching to the Australian stable of Anthony and Sam Freedman. With Lucky Sweynesse leading the way for the older sprinters, the top three-year-old sprinter in the world for 2023 was the G1 Commonwealth Cup and G1 July Cup winner Shaquille (GB) (Charm Spirit {Ire}) on 120.

Four of the top ten races in the world in 2023 were staged in Japan, with the Takarazuka Kinen in fifth spot, the Tenno Sho (Autumn) joint-sixth and the Arima Kinen in eighth. The Equinox factor had a firm say in the rankings of the races, with the Longines Dubai Sheema Classic ranked second with an average rating of 126.50. The Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, a regular winner of this title, was third on 124.75, just ahead of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth S. on 124.50. The Royal Bahrain Irish Champion S was co-sixth, while the Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques Le Marois was ninth and the Juddmonte International tenth. 

The official rankings are compiled by the Longines World's Best Racehorse Rankings Committee, which is co-chaired by Nigel Gray and Dominic Gardiner-Hill, and they are published by the IFHA.

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