It is an international disgrace that Winx sits below the now twice-shamed Arrogate in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings.
The six-year-old thunder from down under secured her twenty-first consecutive victory this month, with only four more needed to match the record of her fellow Australian compadre, the mighty Black Caviar. It was once again a flawless display, brushing aside her G1 opposition to a six-and-a-half lengths win – the cameras struggling to fit the second into shot.
Meanwhile, over the summer in the northern hemisphere, when Arrogate came back from his Dubai World Cup win, it was hard to even see him in eyeshot. Beaten by over twice the distance Winx beat her rivals on Saturday, he trailed in fourth of five, fifteen-and-a-half lengths behind winner Accelerate.
Forgive and forget, perhaps; the distance was shorter than ideal and it was his first run in four months. He was also giving away nine pounds in weight to the winner. Yet, back at the 2000m, he failed to reel in Collected at Del Mar in August off level weights. Since that Dubai World Cup win, there’s been a certain sparkle missing. But, he’s the best in the world?
Arrogate maintains his rating of 134. Winx sits two behind, on 132.
There’s always been a local bias rife within most racing states, but the northern-hemisphere prejudice is incredible – and it reaches the highest echelons of our sport. The alarm bells begin to ring by looking at the 2016 World Rankings and the three countries represented by the chairmen who make the decisions: Hong Kong, Britain and America. None from the southern hemisphere.
Arrogate and Californian Chrome both topped Winx in 2016, followed by Almanzor, A Shin Hikari, Maurice, Frosted then Found, Hartnell, Postponed and Werther. Three, including the top two, were American. A further three were European while another treble were Asian horses endowed with Hong Kong success.
As a European, I’ll always favour races conducted on turf. Yet, as the majority of major racing nations do conduct their racing on grass, it seems bizarre that the top two horses in the world will never have to take on a huge chunk of equine challengers. Arrogate has never faced one of the top British, Irish, French, German, Australian or Japanese horses.
One of the head handicappers, Philip Smith says, on the topic of Winx that: “there is nothing wrong with what she is doing. And the glib answer is that it’s not her fault that her opposition isn’t stronger.”
How strong is Arrogate’s opposition?
The Dubai World Cup may be the richest race in the world, but since 2012 it has been won by horses trained either in the United States or the United Arab Emirates. Thus, is it fair to say it’s truly an international event?
Of the twelve starters in the 2017 renewal, seven were American. The others cut little ice as national heroes; the best from other countries were nowhere to be seen.
However, over on the turf in the Sheema Classic – renowned by many as the real international race to watch – we’ve seen winners from Great Britain, France, Japan and Ireland in the past five years.
Therefore, if we suggest that despite the prize-pot the Dubai World Cup isn’t as magnificent as it looks, what has Arrogate beaten? Winx has been accused of beating the same-old horses, but…
His win in the Dubai World Cup, his crowning jewel, was a mere re-do of the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. Previously vanquished: Keen Ice, Hoppertunity and Frosted returned for the same event. He’d already beat third-placed Neolithic, in the Pegasus, too.
Horses that have beat him? Cat Burglar, for example, has won just the one (ungraded) race since 2014.
Let’s examine Winx. She’s beaten 48 Group One winners according to Magic Millions, are they worth it?
Highland Reel, beaten 5.5 lengths by Winx in 2015 has won G1 races in four different countries: the Hong Kong Vase, King George VI, Arlington Million, Breeders’ Cup Turf.
His second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe adds another state to his repertoire.
Storm The Stars, brushed aside but a dual-Derby placer and Great Voltiguer winner.
Vadamos, French G1 winner and second to Ribchester in the Jacques le Marois.
Endless Drama, Irish Guineas placer.
Ventura Storm, English St Leger second.
Sir Isaac Newton, Royal Ascot winner.
Spiritjim, consequently disqualified winner of the Grand Prix de St-Cloud, third in Prix Foy.
Chautauqua, running over 1500m but she still beat the world’s best sprinter.
Hartnell. Harlem. Humidor. Singing. Foxplay. Le Romain. Yankee Rose. Black Heart Bart. Happy Clapper. Stratum Star. The list goes on.
The point of mentioning these horses are not because I believe they’re particularly strong or outstanding, but it shows that at least her form-lines are at the very least, internationally traceable. She has beaten horses from almost every corner of the world.
It’s true, she has not been able to take on Enable. She never got to tussle with Almanzor, nor Found. But when has Arrogate? She’s beat multiple G1 winners from various racing countries, when has he?
If the question is of the quality of opposition, how did Frankel reach such lofty heights?
Frankel was similarly accused by many of beating the same horses over and over again… Excelebration bearing the brunt of it. He never left Britain and earned a Longines Ranking of 140. Why does Winx need to leave Australia to claim her much-deserved title?
Nevertheless, if we admit both of Arrogate’s and Winx’s respective opposition have weaknesses… she still manages to beat hers. Arrogate lost a few lengths at the start of the Pacific Classic, but when Winx fell out of the stalls in the Warwick Stakes, she still got up.
Both Arrogate and Winx continue to beat ‘the same horses’ again. They have remained in their comfort zones, on dirt tracks or in Australia. But Winx still hasn’t actually been beaten this year. No matter what, she still wins. Her racing allows her to take on horses from multiple racing districts; horses of which she continues to thrash. Smith’s explanation is inadequate. If there’s not some northern-hemisphere bias… what is it?
Winx deserves that top spot. A six-year-old mare unbeaten for over 900 days, it’s not an achievement that justifies this incredible slight.
America currently have a popular saying that Trump is #NotMyPresident. Well, Arrogate isn’t my best horse in the world. Not while Winx works those wonders.