2008 was another great year for international Flat racing, and one which will perhaps be best remembered for the emergence of three exceptional fillies, namely Zarkava (IRE) , Zenyatta (USA)  and Goldikova (IRE) .
ZARKAVA  emulated the achievement of the legendary French filly Allez France in winning the French Triple Crown for fillies, the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, Prix de Diane and the Prix Vermeille but managed to do what Allez France narrowly failed to do, which was to win the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as a three year old and finish her career unbeaten, having been champion European juvenile filly in 2007. One has to go back to Bosra Sham  (1997) to find a higher rated filly and to Miesque  (1988) to find a higher rated French filly, and one has to wonder what Zarkava might have achieved in ratings terms had she met a higher calibre of opponent than the best of the 2008 crop.
GOLDIKOVA  is officially the best female miler since Ridgewood Pearl (126) (1995) and both fillies had the distinction of beating the colts in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, while ZENYATTA  remains unbeaten and is the highest rated North American filly since Azeri  (2002). Her season culminated in an impressive success in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic. Both Goldikova and Zenyatta remain in training in 2009 which is a very exciting prospect.
The year of the filly phenomenon extended to Japanese racing with two world class fillies vying for Horse of the Year honours in Japan. VODKA (JPN)  put up her best performance in the Yasuda Kinen over a mile and also won the Tenno Sho (Autumn), while DAIWA SCARLET (JPN)  ended an injury impaired season by also beating the colts in the Arima Kinen.
CURLIN (USA)  and NEW APPROACH (IRE)  share the accolade of top colts in the world during 2008.
CURLIN  improved his 2007 rating by one pound by winning the Dubai World Cup (sponsored by Emirates Airlines) impressively and going back to the United States to win the Stephen Foster Handicap in another great weight carrying performance. While his form dipped in quality thereafter he nonetheless ends the year the equal of Ghostzapper  (2004) and one pound higher than Invasor  (2006) by virtue of his early season exploits.
NEW APPROACH  achieved his rating in romping home in the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes and he joins an illustrious list of 3 year old colts to have achieved a rating of 130+ since the turn of the century, Sinndar  (2000), Point Given  (2001), Dalakhani  (2003), Alamshar  (2003) and Hurricane Run  (2005). He also emulated George Washington  (2006) by becoming top (or joint top) turf horse in the world as a three year old having been European champion juvenile the previous year.
Top sprinting honours were well contested in 2008. Hong Kong’s SACRED KINGDOM (AUS)  retained his mantle as top Turf Sprinter in the world but was joined on the same mark by North American non turf performer MIDNIGHT LUTE (USA)  who created history by becoming the first horse to win back to back Sentient Flight Breeders’ Cup Sprints. Prolific Group 1 winning Australian sprinters WEEKEND HUSSLER (AUS)  and APACHE CAT (AUS)  were only just behind in the rankings along with top European sprinter MARCHAND D’OR (FR) , who was assessed one pound above the unbeaten Hungarian trained three year old OVERDOSE (GB) .
RAVEN’S PASS (USA)  was a very progressive three year old who finally overcame his old rival (and prolific Group 1 winning miler) HENRYTHENAVIGATOR (USA)  in both the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by Sony) over a mile and then on a synthetic surface over ten furlongs in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is second only to New Approach in the 3 year old Rankings. Top older turf miler in the world is the Hong Kong trained gelding GOOD BA BA (USA) , who was deeply impressive in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile, while there were a number of impressive performances during the year from horses trained in South Africa, most notably POCKET POWER (SAF) , sprinter JJ THE JET PLANE (SAF)  and the filly SUN CLASSIQUE (AUS) .
DUKE OF MARMALADE (IRE)  took top honours among the older horses over 10-12f with impressive performances in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (both at Ascot), while BIG BROWN (USA)  proved to be head and shoulders above a moderate crop of North American three year olds in winning the first two legs of the American Triple Crown.
Stablemates SEPTIMUS (IRE)  and YEATS (IRE)  (who created history in winning his third consecutive Ascot Gold Cup) shared the accolade of top older staying horse, and were joined on the same rating by the progressive three year old colt CONDUIT (IRE)  for his victory in the Ladbrokes St Leger. However, Conduit put up his best performance later over 12 furlongs when winning the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf.
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The 2008 World Thoroughbred Rankings were compiled by the World Rankings Supervisory Committee (a panel of handicappers/racing secretaries affiliated to the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities) in Hong Kong in December 2008. The committee comprised :
Nigel Gray (co-chairman) Hong Kong
Garry O’Gorman (co-chairman) Ireland
Greg Carpenter Australia
Gerald Sauque France
Dominic Gardiner-Hill Great Britain
Phillip Smith Great Britain
Harald Siemen Germany
Marco Rinaldi Italy
Kazuhito Matano, Dr Japan
Takahiro Uno Japan
Dean Nowell New Zealand
Mike Wanklin Singapore
Roger Smith South Africa
Melvin Day UAE
Tom Robbins USA
with the following also present as observers :
David Hunter Australia
Steven Lym Canada
Bahadir Gur Turkey
Taylan Karaer Turkey
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The World Thoroughbred Rankings (WTR) are published by the
International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA). The full list and further information on the World Thoroughbred Rankings are available on the
IFHA web site http://www.ifhaonline.org/
For further details on the World Thoroughbred Rankings (WTR), please contact :
Nigel Gray, co-chairman World Rankings Supervisory Committee
Head of Handicapping and Race Planning, Hong Kong Jockey Club
Telephone +852 2966 8337
Garry O’Gorman, co-chairman World Rankings Supervisory Committee
Senior Flat Handicapper, Irish Turf Club
Telephone +353 5997 26596
Tom Robbins, chairman North American Ratings Committee
Vice President (Racing), Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
Telephone +1 858 792 4230