There was a three-way tie between Europe’s star colts Australia, Kingman and The Grey Gatsby as the highest-rated three-year-olds in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings announced at a ceremony in London on Tuesday.
The three horses were each given a rating of 127 after enjoying stellar seasons.
Australia, trained by Aidan O’Brien, won the Epsom Derby and the Irish equivalent at the Curragh as well as the Juddmonte International but he was beaten in the Irish Champion Stakes by The Grey Gatsby. Kevin Ryan’s grey also won the Prix du Jockey Club.
Kingman, from John Gosden’s stable, proved himself the best miler in Europe with Group One victories in the Irish 2000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Prix du Moulin before being retired.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for Kingman’s owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “It was was truly exciting, he really got people lifting off their seats waiting for him to accelerate. He had a great season.”
Japan secured the top two rankings in the world courtesy of the wide-margin Dubai Duty Free winner Just A Way (130) – the first time a horse from Japan has officially been the best in the world – and Japan Cup scorer Epiphaneia (129).
However, Europe provided five of the top 10 ratings with dual Arc de Triomphe victor Treve on 126 and emphatic German Derby hero Sea The Moon on 125.
Taghrooda, a stablemate of Kingman’s, was top-rated three-year-old filly with a mark of 123 after winning the Investec Oaks and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
The Fugue, also from the Gosden yard, earned a rating of 124 thanks to achieving Group One glory for the third successive year with victory in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Seasoned French-trained stars Cirrus Des Aigles and Flintshire each acquired a rating of 123 to end the year as the joint top-rated European older male horses alongside the O’Brien-trained Magician, who raced in four countries during a busy year.
Edward Lynam’s Slade Power (119) ended 2014 as the highest-rated European-trained sprinter, by winning the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and Darley July Cup.
In so doing, he was rated just ahead of his stable companion Sole Power, winner of the King’s Stand Stakes and Nunthorpe Stakes, and the Betfred Sprint Cup scorer G Force. Both were put on 118.
Jamie Osborne’s Breeders’ Cup Classic second Toast Of New York was allotted a mark of 124, 1lb below Bayern, his narrow conqueror on what was a pulsating night at Santa Anita in November.
Phil Smith, head of handicapping at the British Horseracing Authority, was left to wonder what might have been, and in particular with Kingman, who was forced to miss his intended final outing on Champions Day.
He said: “To some extent all those horses (top three-year-olds) are frustrating as we have not seen the best of them.
“None of those horses finished their season. Kingman, in particular, we are sure would have been better than the 127 he achieved.”
His colleague Dominic Gardiner-Hill echoed those sentiments.
He said: “If Kingman had made it to the QEII we may have been talking about him now as world’s best racehorse.”