Older horses

BREEDERS’ Cup Classic victor Flightline has been deemed the equal of Frankel after he was given a rating of 140 this week at the 2022 Longines World’s Best Racehorse Awards in London.

The John Sadler-trained four-year-old won three Grade 1 races by a collective winning margin of just under 34 lengths. His 140 rating derives from his performance in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, where he finished a staggering 19 and a half lengths clear of Dubai World Cup winner Country Grammer.

Unbeaten in six starts in all, he rounded off his career with another brilliant performance in the Breeders’ Cup Classic where he was just over eight lengths too good for Olympiad (124) and Taiba (123).

A rating of 140 equals the best performance of Frankel (achieved in 2012 Queen Anne Stakes), while it is 5lb better than the previous best achieved by a dirt horse, Cigar in 1996.

Sadler was delighted with the assessment of the son of Tapit. Speaking at the awards ceremony, he said: “He never hid his talent – he was a star from the day he walked into the barn and that’s the way he walked out.

“We’re so grateful to have a horse like this in my career. Most horsemen never get one like this, so I feel very blessed. We watched Frankel run. Racing gets more international and we follow what’s happening over here so we thought that was kind of a good comparison.”

Flightline was retired after his Breeders’ Cup Classic win and now stands at Lane’s End Farm, Kentucky with a covering fee of $200,000.

Brilliant Baaeed

In a vintage year, Baaeed was rated the world’s highest rated turf horse at 135, 5lb shy of Flightine in the overall ratings, but the best turf horse since Frankel.

Although he was beaten at odds of 1/4 on his final start in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Royal Ascot, Baaeed went four from four in Group 1s prior to that with wins in the Lockinge, Queen Anne, Sussex Stakes and when upped to an extended 10 furlongs in the Juddmonte International.

It was in that latter mentioned race that Baaeed hit the 135 mark, for a six-and-a-half-length score over the much respected Mishriff, who was so impressive in the same race 12 months previous. In winning the International, Baaeed replicated the success of his sire Sea The Stars and Frankel.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Haggas reflected: “I think before Ascot (Queen Anne) I was at my most nervous because it is the first race of such a prestigious meeting for us.

“He was about 1/6 and everyone expected him to win, and things can happen in horse racing. Fortunately he did win and we’ve had a wonderful journey, much like the owners and trainer of Flightline - but we’ve had our own journey and it has been fantastic.

“I wish I could guarantee it would be repeated but I doubt it will.”

It was 9lb down to the Japanese three-year-old Equinox, who is discussed in the adjacent piece, and Australia’s Nature Strip, who earns the title of the best sprinter in the world for 2022 on a rating of 126.

Trained by Chris Waller, the eight-year-old’s signature win came in the King’s Stand Stakes where he blasted clear of his 15 rivals. He also recorded a top level win in the T.J. Smith at Randwick. Next best of the Europeans was another three-year-old Vadeni, who was level with Steven Asmussen’s dirt horse Epicenter on 125.

Best Irish

The best Irish horse around was Aidan O’Brien’s Kyprios whose rating of 124 has him joint eighth best in the world.

The Galileo horse was a perfect six from six last term, progressing from listed level to a four-time Group 1 winner. He won the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot before confirming his superiority over Stradivarius and Trueshan in a brilliant Goodwood Cup. He then took the Irish St Leger before producing his 124 performance in the Prix du Cadran where, amazingly, he ran out a 20-length winner despite hanging all the way across the ParisLongchamp vast straight.

On the same rating are the likes of Hong Kong’s Golden Sixty and Romantic Warrior, the Japanese-trained Titleholder, King George winner Pyledriver and Arc third Torquator Tasso.

The Arc heroine Alpinista is one place back on 123 after a fine year that yielded Group 1 wins in Germany, France and Britain.

Japanese star Equinox is the

bestof the classic generation


The horse of the year in Japan will be a contender to top the rankings this year

JAPAN’S Equinox has been rated the best three-year-old in the world in 2022 on a rating of 126, 1lb clear of the French colt Vadeni.

Tetsuya Kimura’s son of Kitasan Black was a landslide winner of the vote for Horse of the Year in his home country after he recorded Group 1 wins in the Tenno Sho and Arima Kinen. Earlier in the season he finished runner-up in two of the Japanese classics, the Satsuki Sho (equivalent of 2000 Guineas) and the Tokyo Yushun (Derby).

He stays in training this year with connections keen to travel him abroad. Considering he is still unexposed, he will be a contender to top the overall standings in 2023.

Vadeni had a fine year which was well and truly launched with a five-length win in the Prix du Jockey Club before he came out best in a tactical affair in the Eclipse.

His season then revolved around the Irish Champion Stakes but he could only manage third to Luxembourg and compatriot Onesto in that contest. He earned his top rating with a brave effort to finish second to Alpinista in tough conditions in the Arc, his first start at a mile and a half.

Steven Asmussen’s Epicenter was the best three-year-old dirt horse around, courtesy of his smooth win in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga.

Despite missing so much of the season, Luxembourg still managed to be the clear best three-year-old in Ireland, his rating of 123 was joint 16th best in the world. He was a short-priced favourite for the Derby after a highly promising run in the 2000 Guineas but a setback ruled him out for all of the summer.

He was excellently nursed back to full health by Aidan O’Brien’s team to win the Irish Champion Stakes before seemingly failing to deal with tough ground conditions in the Arc. He is another who will have the chance to enhance his reputation as a four-year-old this year. He was rated the equal of the Derby winner Desert Crown, who was a fine winner at Epsom but another one unfortunate with setbacks, as he hasn’t been seen since.