• 2009 heralded as a ‘A Year of Exceptional Racehorses’
• Sea The Stars, on 136, the highest rated horse since Peintre Celebre in 1997
• Goldikova (130) the highest rated older horse
• Zenyatta (128) pips Rachel Alexandra (127)
2009 has been heralded as ‘A Year of Exceptional Racehorses’ by the panel of handicappers/racing secretaries affiliated to the IFHA (International Federation of Horseracing Authorities) who recently compiled the annual publication of the World Thoroughbred Rankings, the official listing of the world’s top racehorses.
WORLD THOROUGHBRED RANKINGS
TOP 11 HORSES IN 2009
RANK HORSE RATING TRAINED
1 SEA THE STARS (IRE) 136 IRE
2 GOLDIKOVA (IRE) 130 FR
3 RIP VAN WINKLE (IRE) 129 IRE
4 FAME AND GLORY (GB) 128 IRE
4 ZENYATTA (USA) 128 USA
6 RACHEL ALEXANDRA (USA) 127 USA
7 CAVALRYMAN (GB) 125 FR
7 CONDUIT (IRE) 125 GB
7 GIO PONTI (USA) 125 USA
7 GLADIATORUS (USA) 125 UAE
7 YOUMZAIN (IRE) 125 GB
The outstanding colt of 2009 was the remarkable Irish horse SEA THE STARS (IRE)  who remained undefeated throughout the season in notching up no less than 6 prestigious Group 1 wins in Ireland, England and France. His best performance, in the view of the Handicappers, took place at Leopardstown in the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes (G1) in September, when he comfortably defeated the impressive Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winner FAME AND GLORY (GB)  and multiple Group 1 winner MASTERCRAFTSMAN (IRE) . His rating of 136 is by far the highest rating accorded a racehorse since the World Thoroughbred Rankings were launched in 2004 (the highest previously was Manduro (GER)  in 2007) and is the highest rating awarded since the French colt Peintre Celebre (USA) was rated 137 (under the former International Classifications back in 1997).
2009 marked the return of two outstanding fillies from 2008 who achieved even higher rank this year, namely the French-trained GOLDIKOVA (IRE)  and the North American mare ZENYATTA (USA) , and also the emergence of another exceptional filly, the North American three year old RACHEL ALEXANDRA (USA) .
GOLDIKOVA (IRE)  is the best filly/mare miler since her compatriot Miesque (FR)  (1987/1988) over twenty years ago and like that remarkable filly, she has managed to win back to back TVG Breeders’ Cup Miles. However, her best performance, in the view of the Handicappers, was her magnificent romp in the Prix du Haras de Fresney Le Buffard Jacques Le Marois (G1) at Deauville in August.
ZENYATTA (USA)  created history by becoming the first filly/mare ever to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic amid joyous scenes of jubilation at Santa Anita in November, and has now retired unbeaten after 14 wins. She is the highest rated filly/mare on a non turf surface since Inside Information (USA)  back in 1995. That was the year that North America joined the International Classification process, and since then no three year old filly on a non turf surface has come near to matching the achievements of RACHEL ALEXANDRA (USA) , who also created history in defeating the colts in the Preakness Stakes (G1) but whose best performance, the handicappers consider, was in the Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park in August.
Quite apart from this array of exceptional performers, there were a number of other notable achievements worldwide during 2009. The top older sprinters in the world were Australian trained SCENIC BLAST (AUS) , who travelled to Royal Ascot and won the King’s Stand Stakes (G1), having previously won at Group 1 level in the Coolmore Lightning Stakes (G1) at Flemington back in January, and the Hong Kong trained gelding SACRED KINGDOM (AUS) , who won the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Sprint (G1) once again but who also travelled overseas and won the Krisflyer International Sprint (SIN G1). In the process, he edged out the Singapore trained gelding ROCKET MAN (AUS) , whose performance in this race, even in defeat, was the best performance by a three year old sprinter in the world during 2009.
SACRED KINGDOM (AUS)  deserves special credit, as 2009 is the third consecutive year in which he has been assessed as either the clear top (in 2007) or the joint top sprinter (in 2008, along with Midnight Lute (USA)) in the world.
Irish three year old colt RIP VAN WINKLE (IRE)  was somewhat overshadowed by compatriot SEA THE STARS (IRE) , who defeated him in the Coral Eclipse Stakes (G1) over ten furlongs, but he was equally good at a mile and his impressive performance in defeating PACO BOY (IRE)  in the BGC Sussex Stakes (G1) at Goodwood in July has been recognized by the handicappers as the best performance by a three year old miler since Mark of Esteem (GB)  back in 1996. His stablemate YEATS (IRE)  created history by becoming the first horse to win four Ascot Gold Cups in the process being accorded the accolade of Top Stayer in the world in 2009 a distinction he also shared in 2008.
ST NICHOLAS ABBEY (IRE)  emerged at the top of the 2YO ratings following his win in Doncaster’s Racing Post Trophy. In earning a 124 figure he became the first Racing Post Trophy winner to head the 2yo list since Celtic Swing in 1994, and it puts him well clear of recent winners of the race such as Authorized, Motivator and High Chapparel each of whom went on to win the Derby.
Six of the last seven champions have gone on to win top races the next year (the 2006 champion, Teofilo, did not race again) including winning five Classics and an Arc, and St Nicholas Abbey’s rating puts him behind only New Approach amongst recent champions.
Criquette Head-Maarek was responsible for the top filly for the fourth time in her training career with SPECIAL DUTY (GB) . This follows on from Ma Biche (in 1982), Ravinella (in 1987) and Pas De Reponse (in 1996). Again, six of the last seven champion fillies have gone on to big race success the next year with horses like Zarkava, Finsceal Beo, Divine Proportions and Attraction all adding Classic race successes to their 2yo achievements.