Hong Kong's two-time and reigning Horse of the Year AMIBITIOUS DRAGON has achieved a record-equalling career benchmark in the 2012 World Thoroughbred Rankings (WTR), which the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) issued.
AMBITIOUS DRAGON matched former Hong Kong high-weight GOOD BA BA's 2008 WTR peak with a year-end rating of 124.
The Tony Millard-trained champion matched former Hong Kong high-weight GOOD BA BA's 2008 WTR peak with a year-end rating of 124, thus making the six-year-old the joint-highest ranked Hong Kong horse of all time.
AMIBITIOUS DRAGON 's mark was achieved when victorious under top-weight in October's HKG2 Oriental Watch Sha Tin Trophy. It represents a two point increase on his 2011 WTR of 122, and sees him climb from equal 23rd in last year's rankings to equal 13th this time alongside global heavy-weights SNOW FAIRY, DANEDREAM and ST NICHOLAS ABBEY.
A total of 16 Hong Kong horses feature in the 2012 WTR, which rates the best three-year-old and older horses across the globe according to their performances in the latest calendar year. The total is the third highest figure ever achieved by Hong Kong horses in the WTR. JOHAN CRUYFF in 1998 was the first Hong Kong horse to make the list, and 10 years ago five Hong Kong horses made the 2002 rankings, a joint-record at the time.
Hong Kong ranks seventh in the numerical pecking order behind only the major powerhouse nations of USA, Japan, Australia, Great Britain, France and Ireland. Hong Kong's total representation in the 2012 WTR is one less than Ireland's 17.
AMIBITIOUS DRAGON 's old rival CALIFORNIA MEMORY is another Hong Kong star to reach a new pinnacle in the rankings as he too was elevated two pounds to 122 for his win in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup in December.
GLORIOUS DAYS, runner-up to AMIBITIOUS DRAGON in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile and one of Hong Kong's most exciting rising stars, earns reward for his fine efforts against the Horse of the Year this season as he makes the end-of-year list for the first time with a rating of 120. And Hong Kong's strong mile division is further enhanced with G1 Champions Mile victor XTENSION rising two pounds to the same mark.
LUCKY NINE and LITTLE BRIDGE share the honour of being Hong Kong's top-rated sprinters with the pair inseparable on 118. LITTLE BRIDGE's mark is reward for his brilliant success in the G1 King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, while LUCKY NINE earned his sprint rating when victorious in November's G2 Jockey Club Sprint (LUCKY NINE also achieved 118 for a mile in winning the HKG1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup and claiming third in the G1 Champions Mile).
CALIFORNIA MEMORY was elevated two pounds to 122 for his win in the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup in December.
With the retirements last year of some of Hong Kong's star runners, among them WTR regulars SACRED KINGDOM and ABLE ONE, the appearance in the list of the high-class young guns GLORIOUS DAYS and PACKING WHIZ (115) bodes well.
"In light of the fact that the past year has been a transition phase for our elite bracket of horses, it's encouraging to see Hong Kong put up another bold showing in the World Thoroughbred Rankings and to see AMIBITIOUS DRAGON rank so highly in the global pecking order," said Hong Kong Jockey Club Executive Director of Racing, William A. Nader.
"The 2012 WTR is testament to the consistent performances by our horses at the elite international level, and that is something that Hong Kong racing's fans can be proud of. The fact that we have 16 horses in the list is indicative of Hong Kong's ability to consistently unleash world-class talent on the global racing scene; talent exemplified in 2012 by our LONGINES Hong Kong International Races heroes AMIBITIOUS DRAGON and CALIFORNIA MEMORY, and LITTLE BRIDGE, who burnished Hong Kong's reputation overseas with a brilliant Royal Ascot success."
The great Frankel tops the WTR for a second successive year. His outstanding mark of 140 represents a rise of four pounds on his already lofty 2011 WTR. The phenomenal colt retired in October unbeaten, after recording his 14th career success in the G1 Champion Stakes at Ascot, his 10th win at the highest level. CIRRUS DES AIGLES, whom FRANKEL defeated on that occasion, ranks second in the list on 131, with crack Australian sprinter BLACK CAVIAR and Ireland's star miler EXCELEBREATION joint-third on 130.