The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) yesterday (Tuesday, 24 January) announced the World’s Top 100 Group 1 Races for 2016. All 11 of Hong Kong’s eligible contests made the list, consolidating the jurisdiction’s burgeoning status as one of the sport’s front-rank global powers.
Two of Hong Kong’s elite races featured in the world’s top 20 with the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup ranked equal 15th and the Champions Mile joint 19th. The LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (equal 38th) was rated the world’s best sprint race.
Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Hong Kong is among the very best horseracing jurisdictions in the world and we are seeing each year that our races feature highly in the IFHA’s rankings of the top 100 Group 1 races. As well as two races in the top 20, the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint is the world’s top-rated sprint race and is one of nine Hong Kong races in the top 50 - a figure only surpassed by the UK and matched by Australia. Considering we run approximately 800 races per season compared to the much larger numbers in those jurisdictions, this is a significant accomplishment.
“Hong Kong’s Group 1 races account for 11 percent of the world’s best 100 elite races and that is testament to the long-term strategies we have implemented, which are designed to present some of the world’s finest and most competitive racing.”
For the first time, the 2016 ranking is based on the average rating of the first four finishers from that year’s races alone, rather than being calculated from a three-year average of the first four, as had been the measure previously. A panel of international handicappers determines the ratings.
The LONGINES Hong Kong Cup, won by Japan’s star galloper Maurice, achieved a rating of 120.5. The same horse’s brilliant victory in the Champions Mile helped take that race’s average rating to 120.25 and a climb of three places in the rankings from the previous year.
The Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (119.25), won by Blazing Speed in 2016, leaps from equal 85th place in 2015 to sit equal 30th as the third-highest ranked Hong Kong race.
Werther’s Audemars Piguet QEII Cup (119) ranks equal 35th; the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (118.75) and LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (118.75) come in equal 38th; the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (118.25) and the Stewards’ Cup (118.25) rank equal 46th; the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (118), in its first year as a Group 1, is rated equal 49th; the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (117) is joint 70th; and the Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (116) is equal 99th.
Mr Anthony Kelly, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director, Racing Business and Operations, said: “Not one of our Group 1 races is valued at less than HK$10 million – with seven of them offering at least HK$14 million. Our investment in prize money, across the board, has served as a key incentive to both our local Owners to purchase high-quality imports and to attract overseas owners to send their horses here for our most prestigious races. The fact that all 11 of our Group 1 races are ranked in the list is a fine achievement.
“It is especially pleasing to see the Chairman’s Sprint Prize make the top 50 in its first year as a Group 1. The race is a key component of our expanded Group 1 spring programme and attracted an Australian champion in Chautauqua, whose surge from last to first made for a fantastic spectacle and ensured that the race made an immediate impact on the world stage.”
The list of the World’s Top 100 Group 1 Races was revealed during a ceremony at Claridge’s Hotel, London. The Breeders’ Cup Classic was ranked the world’s best race in 2016 with an average of 125.25. The Irish Champion Stakes, Pacific Classic and Cox Plate ranked equal second with a 124.75 average rating.
World’s Top 100 Group 1 Races