Almond Eye knocks Contrail off top spot in global racehorse rankings

Horse Racing Almond Eye Japan Cup 2020
World number one: Almond Eye (Christophe Lemaire) wins the Japan Cup. Photo: JRA

By Nicholas Godfrey

After a five-week stint at the top of the global rankings, Contrail has been supplanted by his brilliant Japan Cup conqueror Almond Eye as world number one.

The five-year-old, who joined the greats with her ninth G1 success at Tokyo racecourse in Japan’s ‘Race of the Decade’ on Sunday, earned a 64-point boost – enough to catapult her to the head of Thoroughbred Racing Commentary’s Global Rankings with a total of 1,345 as she heads into retirement.

Contrail had taken over #1 position when completing the Japanese Triple Crown five weeks ago with his victory in the Kikuka Sho (St Leger).

Such is the logjam at the top of the list, however, that even a narrow defeat for Triple Crown winner Contrail sends him down to #5 from the top spot.

The hitherto unbeaten three-year-old dropped 67 ranking points for his length-and-a-quarter reverse, which means he falls beneath Enable, Ghaiyyath and Tarnawa – and has Magical snapping at him ahead of the Longines Hong Kong International Races.

World top 20 racehorses | World top jockeys and trainers

On the plus side, Contrail will be back next year, unlike Almond Eye, Enable and Ghaiyyath. 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.

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.

TRC Global Rankings for racehorses

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 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 remains world number one for 2020 with an official rating of 130.

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

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

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

US-based Chad Brown leads the way among trainers after a productive weekend at Del Mar but Almond Eye’s rider Christophe Lemaire (1,085pt) has now cut the deficit to longtime leader Frankie Dettori (1,095pt) to just ten points on the jockeys’ list.

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

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