On top of the world: St Mark’s Basilica is new number one on global rankings

Horse Racing St Mark's Basilica number one
St Mark’s Basilica with Aidan O’Brien: new world number one on TRC global rankings. Photo: Caroline Norris

By Nicholas Godfrey

Ireland: St Mark’s Basilica is the new world number one on the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary’s Global Rankings following his victory in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday [Sept 11].

Ballydoyle’s superstar three-year-old kept on strongly to score by three-quarters of a length from leading Arc hope Tarnawa, thereby extending his unbeaten record this season to four races – all of them G1 contests, after the French Guineas and Derby (Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Prix du Jockey Club) and Coral-Eclipse.

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St Mark’s Basilica has now won five G1s in a row when last year’s Dewhurst Stakes is also taken into consideration.

After surviving a stewards’ inquiry into interference as he edged across the track at Leopardstown, the son of Siyouni enjoyed a 127-point boost on the TRC scale – enough to leapfrog star miler Palace Pier at the head of affairs on the world list.

St Mark’s Basilica has a total points haul of 2,189 compared to 2,160 for Palace Pier, with the admirable Mishriff in third on 2,060. The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt has won six of his nine career starts.

There is also a significant change among trainers with the John & Thady Gosden team having overtaken US-based Chad Brown to claim top spot, while Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby swaps positions with Aidan O’Brien to take third place.

Frankie Dettori remains #1 on the jockeys’ list ahead of leading US money earner Joel Rosario, with Australian-based James McDonald up to #3.

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.

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

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

Under the traditional IFHA-backed 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 that basis, there is a three-way tie at the top, with St Mark’s Basilica and Mishriff joined by Derby/King George winner Adayar on the 127 mark (for the period Jan 1 to Sept 6) according to official handicappers.

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