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Irish Thoroughbred Rankings 2021 Overview and Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings 2021

A comprehensive overview of the 2021 Irish rankings which can be viewed here -

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Last year saw 10 of the 13 domestic Group 1 races in Ireland won by Irish trainers but what was especially notable was that no less than seven individual trainers were responsible for those 10 winners which is testament to a strong strength in depth in that regard.

Three of those Group 1 races appeared in the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) Top 100 Group 1 races worldwide listing. The Irish Champion Stakes ranking highest at joint 12th with a race rating average (end of season rating of first four finishers averaged ) of 121.25  The Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas (joint 74th – 116.25 ) and the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby  (joint 94th – 115.75 ) also merited inclusion.

A number of Irish trained horses were best in their division worldwide most notably the unbeaten three-year-old colt St Mark’s Basilica (FR)(127)  who was the joint top horse in the World on turf during 2021, an accolade not achieved by an Irish trained horse since Sea the Stars (IRE) (136) in 2009. Like Sea the Stars and Frankel (GB)(136)(2011), he was unbeaten in Group 1 company as a three-year-old winning all four races of that grade he contested in 2021 and he is the highest rated Irish trained three-year-old since Australia (GB)(127) in 2014.

His stablemate at Ballydoyle Snowfall (JPN)(120) was the best three-year-old filly in the world on any surface. This marks the fifth time in the last seven years when an Irish trained filly was champion or joint champion three-year-old filly in the World following on from Found (IRE)(120)(2015), Minding (IRE)(122)(2016), Alpha Centauri (IRE)(124)(2018) and Love (IRE)(122)(2020). Tarnawa (IRE)(120) was top or joint top older mare in the World in the 10-12f category as she was last year(over 12f) while Santa Barbara (IRE)(116) was also World joint top 3yo filly over 10f.


Four Year Olds and Older

With the exception of 2018 (when there were three older colts all on 118), joint top rated colts Broome (IRE)(118) and Order of Australia (IRE)(118) are the lowest older champion colts in Ireland this century. Broome (IRE)(118) achieved his highest career rating (1 lb higher than 2019) in running up to Yibir (GB)( 120) in the Longines Breeders Cup Turf (G1) at Del Mar while Order of Australia (IRE)(118) also achieved his highest rating this year (2lbs below his 2020 level) in running up to Baaeed (GB)(125) in the Prix de Moulin de Longchamp (G1).

Tarnawa (IRE)(120) was higher rated than the colts but she also fell 2lbs below her 2020 level with her best performances in 2021 in defeat running up to Torquator Tasso (GER)(125) in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) and also to St Mark’s Basilica (FR)(127) in the Irish Champion Stakes over 10f at Leopardstown. While she was world champion older mare outrightover 10f for the latter performance she shared that accolade with the Japanese mare Chrono Genesis (JPN)(120) over 12f.


Love (IRE)(118) was tied with Tarnawa (IRE) on 122 in 2020 but she also dipped below that level in 2021 with her best performance on seasonal debut in winning the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot (G1). Search for a Song (IRE)(115) failed in her attempt to win three consecutive Comer Irish St Legers but she was impressive in winning the Raa Atoll Loughbrown Stakes (G3) and ended the year only 1lb lower than her 2019/2020 level of performance and champion older staying mare in Europe. Romantic Proposal (IRE) (112) also put up the best sprinting performance by an older sprinting mare in Europe in winning the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five (G1) at the Curragh.


Three Year Olds

St Mark’s Basilica (FR)(127) is the first horse since Frankel (GB)(136)(2011) to be European Champion (or joint champion ) two-year-old and three-year-old and only the fourth this century after George Washington (IRE) (127)(2006) and New Approach (IRE)(130)(2008) who were also Irish trained. He started the season by doing the Poule d’essai de Poulains (G1)/ Prix de Jockey Club(G1) double, the fourth horse this century to achieve this distinction and the highest rated of those ahead of Shamardal (USA)(125)(2005), Lope de Vega (IRE)(124)(2010) and Brametot (IRE)(121) (2017). He then took on the older horses and completed the Coral Eclipse (G1)/ Irish Champion Stakes (G1) double, the fourth horse since Sea the Stars (IRE)(136)(2009) to achieve this distinction after So You Think (NZ)(126)(2011), Golden Horn (GB)(130)(2015) and Roaring Lion(USA) (127)(2018).

Snowfall (JPN)(120) achieved an Oaks treble in mid-summer winning the Cazoo Epsom Oaks (G1) (by a record winning margin) , the Juddmonte Irish Oaks (G1) and the Darley Yorkshire Oaks (G1), in the process becoming the third filly this century to achieve that feat following in the footsteps of Enable (GB)(128)(2017) and Alexandrova (IRE)(118(2006). Her level of 120 was only exceeded by the Australian mare Verry Elleegant (NZ)(123) by any female on any surface in 2020.

Santa Barbara (IRE)(116) won the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1) but her best performance was in beating older females in the Beverly D (G1) at Arlington Park. Her level of 116 there was the World joint highest achieved by a 3yo filly over 9.5-10.5f in 2021 along with the French trained filly Rougir (FR)(116) but this was the joint lowest level this century to achieve that distinction.

Poetic Flare (IRE) (122) was defeated by stablemate Mac Swiney (IRE)(118) in the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) having previously won the Qipco 2000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket but his best performances were in winning the St James Palace Stakes (G1) impressively at Royal Ascot and finishing third in the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) over 10f. State of Rest (IRE)(120) emulated his compatriot Adelaide (IRE)(120)(2014) in winning the prestigious Sportingbet W.S Cox Plate (G1) in Melbourne having previously won the Saratoga Derby Invitational (G1) in America.

Two Year Olds

Nature Trail (GB)(122) became European Champion juvenile colt by defeating Point Lonsdale (IRE)(114) impressively in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes (G1) at the Curragh. The third juvenile colt trained by Charlie Appleby to win this race in the last four years (following Quorto (IRE)(121)(2018) and Pinatubo (IRE)(128)(2019)), it also marked the sixth time in the last ten years that the winner of this race was subsequently crowned European champion juvenile colt (following Dawn Approach (IRE)(124)(2012), Toormore (IRE)(122)(2013), Air Force Blue (USA)(124)(2015),Churchill (IRE)(122)(2016) and Pinatubo (IRE)(128)(2019).

Tenebrism (USA)(115) was an eye-catching winner of the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes (G1) graduating from a maiden success fully six months earlier to achieve the mantle of joint Champion European juvenile filly with British trained Inspiral (GB)(115). She is the fifth juvenile filly trained in Ballydoyle to achieve this mantle in the last 11 years following in the footsteps of Maybe (IRE)(116)(2011) ,Found (IRE)(117)(2014),Minding (IRE)(120)(2015) and Clemmie (IRE)(115)(2017).

The unbeaten Luxembourg (IRE)(115) was the top Irish trained juvenile colt for winning the Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford Stakes (G1) followed by the Vertem Futurity Trophy (G1) beating Sissoko (IRE)(111) at Doncaster. He became the fourth horse this century to achieve this double, following after St Nicholas Abbey (IRE)(124)(2009), Casamento (IRE)(119)(2010) and Saxon Warrior (JPN)(119)(2017).

The British trained Ebro River (IRE)(113) won the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (G1) at the Curragh before finishing third behind Native Trail in the National Stakes while Discoveries (IRE)(111) was second only to Tenebrism (USA) among the domestically trained fillies followed her success over Agartha (IRE)(109) in the Moyglare Stud Stakes (G1)



KNICKS GO (USA)(129) is the first North American trained horse to top the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings (LWBRR) since Arrogate (USA)(134) in 2017. Rated 119 in 2020 , the five year old horse improved markedly going up in distance in 2021 winning 3 Group 1 races, the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) in Florida in January, the Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga in August before his best performance in the Longines Breeders Cup Classic (G1) in California in November.


Second only to Knicks Go (USA) in 2021 were the three joint best horses on Turf during 2021 , namely the four year old British trained colt MISHRIFF (IRE)(127) , the three year old British trained colt ADAYAR (IRE)(127) and the Irish trained 3yo colt ST MARK’S BASILICA (FR)(127). MISHRIFF (IRE) improved on his 122 rating as a 3yo showing remarkable versatility in winning the Saudi Cup on dirt before winning the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) in the spring. He was defeated by ADAYAR (IRE) in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Sponsored by Qipco )(G1) at Ascot and by ST MARK’S BASILICA (FR)(127) in the Coral Eclipse at Sandown before improving to their level in winning the Juddmonte International (G1) at York in August. ADAYAR (IRE)(127) had earlier won the Cazoo Epsom Derby (G1) impressively and became the first horse since Galileo (IRE)(129)(2001) to do the Derby/King George double. ST MARK’S BASILICA (FR)(127) was unbeaten in four Group 1 starts at 3. Having done the French classic double (Poulains/Jockey Club)  in the spring , he put up his standout performance in the Coral Eclipse at Sandown(G1) in July before concluding his career by winning the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown in September.


Next in the listing was the highest rated Japanese trained horse , the four year old colt CONTRAIL (JPN)(126) who was rated 124 as a 3yo in 2020. Despite being beaten by top Japanese 3yo colt EFFORIA (JPN)(124) in the Tenno Sho (Autumn)(G1) , his performance in winning the Japan Cup (G1) in November was rated higher than Efforia’s best efforts in winning both the Tenno Sho and the Arima Kinen (G1) in December.


PALACE PIER (GB)(125) achieved the same rating as in 2020 and retained the mantle of joint Champion Turf Miler alongside the unbeaten 3yo British trained colt BAAEED(GB)(125) and the prolific winning Hong Kong trained horse GOLDEN SIXTY(AUS)(125)  who improved on his 124 rating from last year. PALACE PIER (GB) won three Group 1 races but was defeated by BAAEED(GB) on his final career start in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored by Qipco)(G1) at Ascot . This was BAAEED’s (GB) best performance and he stays in training as does GOLDEN SIXTY (AUS) whose best performance , as in 2020, was in winning the Longines HK Mile (G1) .

TORQUATOR TASSO (GER)(125) became the second German trained horse (after the 3yo filly DANEDREAM (GER)(128)(2011)) to win the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) this century defeating the Irish trained mare TARNAWA (IRE)(120). Australian gelding NATURE STRIP (AUS)(124) retained his mantle as the World’s top Turf Sprinter achieving the same rating as in 2020 by winning the Heineken T J Smith (G1) at Randwick again while VERRY ELLEEGANT (NZ)(123) put up the best performance by a distaffer in the World this year with an excellent weight carrying effort in winning the Lexus Melbourne Cup (G1) at Flemington improving on her previous 116 rating achieved over shorter distances in 2020. She would be second only to three time Melbourne Cup winner MAKYBE DIVA (GB)(124)(2005) in the ranks of highest staying mares this century as a consequence and joint top stayer in the World in 2021 along with British trained colt SUBJECTIVIST (GB)(123) who won the Ascot Gold Cup (G1) The next highest fillies/mares in the listing are the aforementioned Irish mare TARNAWA(IRE)(120), the Japanese mares CHRONO GENESIS(JPN)(120) and GRAN ALEGRIA(JPN)(120), the Irish 3yo filly SNOWFALL(JPN)(120) and the American dirt mare MONOMOY GIRL (USA)(120)


Apart from MONOMOY GIRL (USA) , it was a very average year for North American trained fillies/mares but there was great strength in depth among the three year old colts with no less than nine rated 120 or higher which would be the highest number this century. Three colts shared the mantle of top 3yo colt on dirt in 2021. MEDINA SPIRIT (USA)(124) ran up to KNICKS GO(USA) in the Longines Breeders Cup Classic (G1) just ahead of ESSENTIAL QUALITY (USA)(123) and HOT ROD CHARLIE(USA)(122) . LIFE IS GOOD (USA)(124) was also rated 124 for winning the Big Ass Fans Breeders Cup Dirt Mile (G1) impressively while unbeaten 3yo sprinter FLIGHTLINE (USA)(124) gave notice of huge potential in winning the Runhappy Malibu Stakes(G1) at Santa Anita in late December. RUNHAPPY (USA)(121)(2015) was the best 3yo dirt sprinter in the last ten years but he was surpassed this year by both FLIGHTLINE (USA)(124) and JACKIE’S WARRIOR(USA)(122) while GOLDEN PAL (USA)(121) in winning the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint (G1) is the best 3yo turf sprinter trained in America this century as well as the first American trained 3yo turf sprinter to top that World sprinting category.                    

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