FROM a domestic perspective last year saw strong performances from various divisional champions with pride of place in 2021 going to St Mark’s Basilica.

The exploits of Aidan O’Brien’s multiple Group 1 winner are covered elsewhere but a rating of 127 for a three-year-old colt stacks up well and one has to go back to Sea The Stars (136) in 2009 to find an Irish-trained member of the classic generation who was rated higher. This is a fitting testament to St Mark’s Basilica’s exploits last year.

The next highest-rated horse in training in Ireland last year was the admirable Poetic Flare (122) with the now Japanese-based sire holding his form especially well after a busy season for him began with a victory in April’s 2000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown. His victories in the 2000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes marked him out as a miler of outstanding quality.

A rating of 120 brings in a number of top-notch runners including the star fillies Snowfall and Tarnawa who head the overall female division in Ireland.

Their rating compares quite well with other Irish female champions this century (equal to or better than 10 other champions since 2000) while Tarnawa could be considered most unfortunate to find herself rated 2lb lower than she was in 2020. Her efforts in the Irish Champion Stakes (the 12th best race run in the world this year) and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe would suggest she was at least as good as she was 12 months previously.

Another 120-rated performer is Joseph O’Brien’s State Of Rest. His only start in Ireland last season saw him finish a creditable third in the Celebration Stakes at the Curragh but great riches awaited abroad as he landed the Saratoga Derby in August before recording a famous triumph in October’s Cox Plate.

Among the other high-profile three-year-olds to represent Ireland internationally was the ill-fated Santa Barbara, whose two Grade 1 successes in America earned her a mark of 116 and put her 2lb ahead of another Ballydoyle inmate in the 1000 Guineas heroine Mother Earth.

Another international Group 1 winner to hail from these shores was the Adrian McGuinness-trained Prix de l’Abbaye scorer A Case Of You who is the champion three-year-old sprinter in Ireland on 113.

This rating that puts him 1lb ahead of the Flying Five winner Romantic Proposal and 2lb behind Joe Murphy’s much improved older sprinter Gustavus Weston.

The top-rated older males in the country were the Ballydoyle duo of Broome and Order Of Australia who weighed in at 118.

The latter bagged a well-deserved Group 1 win in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in the summer and ran a tremendous race to take second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, whereas Order Of Australia won the Group 2 Minstrel Stakes while also posting a couple of honourable efforts behind Palace Pier and Baaeed.

The accolade of champion older stayer is jointly shared between Johnny Murtagh’s Irish St Leger victor Sonnyboyliston and the runner-up from that race, Twilight Payment – both on 116 – and this places them 1lb ahead of Search For A Song.

The latter could only manage sixth in her quest for a third Irish St Leger but bounced back to form with a near 10-length success in the Group 3 Loughbrown Stakes several weeks later.