Hong Kong racing maintained a strong footing on the international stage with its elite races and star horses among the sport’s very best according to the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings (WBRR) and the World’s Top 100 Group 1 Races, which were revealed in London on Tuesday (23 January).
In a year of transition for Hong Kong’s top horses following the retirements of past WBRR stalwarts, 22 of its best gallopers featured in the global list of horses that achieved a rating of 115 or higher. That is Hong Kong’s third-highest return in the history of the officially-recognised world rankings.
Nine of Hong Kong’s 11 Group 1 contests achieved inclusion in the list of Top 100 Group 1 Races, positioning fifth among all jurisdictions just behind fourth-ranked Japan (12 races) and ahead of France (six) and Ireland (four).
Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “It is pleasing to see Hong Kong racing continue to hold a strong position on the world stage at the very highest level. In the past year or so, we have seen a transition from the old champions, like Able Friend and Designs On Rome, to new stars like Mr Stunning, Time Warp and Beauty Generation – horses which are only just beginning to reach their athletic peak and which give confidence going forward that Hong Kong racing will continue to flourish as one of the sport’s world leaders.
“Our Group 1 races also had a strong showing, with nine of our 11 elite contests included in the Top 100. All in all, the year-end rankings once again highlight Hong Kong’s firm footing in the top echelon of world horseracing.”
Mr Stunning ranks highly
Sha Tin’s latest sprinting hero, the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint victor Mr Stunning, ranked as Hong Kong’s top horse for 2017. A panel of international handicappers rated the John Size-trained galloper equal 29th.
Mr Stunning earned his peak 121 rating for a win in the G2 Premier Bowl Handicap in October and is among the world’s top 10 sprinters, with his ranking placing him equal sixth in that category.
Hong Kong’s 22 ranked horses meant that the two-track jurisdiction was joint sixth with Ireland in terms of numbers of horses in the list, and just behind France (23).
That also gives Hong Kong the distinction of being the jurisdiction with the highest ratio of horses in the WBRR relative to its total active racehorse population, approximately 1.7%.
Chairman’s Sprint takes prominence
The Chairman’s Sprint Prize, in only its second year as a Group 1 race, ranked highest of Hong Kong’s elite level contests in the World’s Top 100 Group 1 Races for 2017.
Hong Kong had five G1 races in the world’s top 50, with the Chairman’s Sprint Prize ranked equal 34th and rated as the fourth best sprint race in the world. The LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (=40), the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (=40), the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (=44) and the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (=48) were also in the leading 50.
Race rankings are determined by the average of the year-end ratings of the first four finishers in each Group 1 contest. Last year’s Chairman’s Sprint Prize, won by Lucky Bubbles with Mr Stunning a close second, came out with a final race rating of 119.25.