Japanese superstar Contrail usurps Enable as number one racehorse on global rankings

Horse Racing Contrail number one
World number one: Contrail, pictured winning the Tokyo Yushun under Yuichi Fukunaga. Photo: Japan Racing Association

By Nicholas Godfrey

Superstar three-year-old Contrail is now ranked the number one racehorse in the world after completing the Japanese Triple Crown at Kyoto on Sunday.

Although the son of the legendary Deep Impact scored only a narrow victory as he extended his unbeaten record to seven in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger), the performance was enough for him to supplant magnificent mare Enable at the head of the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary’s Global Rankings.

Sunday’s victory was a fourth at the highest level for Contrail, who won the Hopeful Stakes as a two-year-old before claiming the Satsuki Sho (2,000 Guineas) and Tokyo Yushun (Derby) in 2020.

A neck victory over the dogged Aristoteles earned Contrail a 56-point boost in the rankings, taking his total to 1,339 and putting him 39 clear of Enable, who was retired after the worst run of her career in the Arc.

World top 20 racehorses | World top jockeys and trainers

The Japanese star, who is trained by Yoshito Yahagi, also leapt ahead of Ghaiyyath (also now retired) and Magical to claim top spot in the rankings, which are published weekly using comprehensive Group and Graded stakes data.

Enable lost 82 rankings points at ParisLongchamp; horses stay in the rankings until 200 days after the most recent outing, although the ‘ageing curve’ means they will automatically drop down the charts as their exploits recede into history.

The dual Arc winner, who spent 105 weeks at #1 (albeit in several different stints) achieved a peak TRC ranking score of 1,521pts following her victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2018.

TRC Global Rankings for racehorses

Unlike traditional methods of racehorse rankings, the TRC Global Rankings are a measure of an individual’s level of achievement over a rolling three-year period.

Two years in the gestation before being published for the first time in August 2020, they can be compared to similar exercises in other sports, like the golf’s world rankings or the ATP rankings in tennis.

Under the usual system, handicappers assign ratings for every run a horse makes, then use the best one to establish its place in an overall classification. 

The annual Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, for instance, could more accurately be described as the ‘World’s Best Racehorse Performances’ because they use one number per horse to infer a hierarchy – with no reference to other performances which may support the assessment. On their basis, Ghaiyyath is currently the world number one for 2020 with an official rating of 130.

TRC editor Chris Smith on the rankings: time for a revolution

Since 2014, TRC Global Rankings have provided a principled hierarchy of the leading jockeys, trainers, owners and sires using statistical learning techniques. 

Updated every week, they are based entirely on the quality of performance of each individual’s runners. Racehorse rankings were published for the first time in August this year.

• Visit thoroughbredracing.com for full global rankings for horses, jockeys, trainers, owners and sires

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