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SEA THE STARS TOPS WORLD THOROUGHBRED RANKINGS
2009 has been heralded as ‘A Year of Exceptional Racehorses’ by the panel of handicappers and racing secretaries affiliated to the IFHA (International Federation of Horseracing Authorities) who recently compiled the annual publication of the World Thoroughbred Rankings.
At the unveiling of the World Thoroughbred Rankings yesterday, Christopher Tsui’s outstanding Sea the Stars was officially labeled the World’s top performer in 2009. Handed a rating of 136 pounds by the panel, the six-times Group One winner far exceeded the previous best since the Rankings were launched in 2004 (the highest previously was Manduro who rated 131 in 2007) and fails by just a pound to match the figure given to the French colt Peintre Celebre who was rated 137 in the International Classifications of 1997. The Wertheimers’ brilliant mare Goldikova was next on 130, while the Coolmore duo of Rip Van Winkle and Fame And Glory were awarded ratings of 129 pounds and 128 respectively. The two American starlets Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra were on 128 and 127 respectively.
The outstanding colt of 2009 was the remarkable Irish horse Sea The Stars (IRE)  who remained undefeated throughout the season in notching up no less than 6 prestigious Group 1 wins in Ireland, England and France. His best performance, in the view of the Handicappers, took place at Leopardstown in the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes (Gr1) in September, when he comfortably defeated the impressive Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winner Fame And Glory (GB)  and multiple Group 1 winner Mastercraftsman (IRE) .
2009 marked the return of two outstanding fillies from 2008 who achieved even higher rank this year, namely the French-trained Goldikova (IRE)  and the North American mare Zenyatta (USA) , and also the emergence of another exceptional filly, the North American three year old Rachel Alexandra (USA) .
Goldikova (IRE)  is the best filly/mare miler since her compatriot Miesque (FR)  (1987/1988) over twenty years ago and like that remarkable filly, she has managed to win back to back TVG Breeders’ Cup Miles. However, her best performance, in the view of the Handicappers, was her magnificent romp in the Prix du Haras de Fresney Le Buffard Jacques Le Marois (Gr1) at Deauville in August.
Zenyatta (USA)  created history by becoming the first filly/mare ever to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic amid joyous scenes of jubilation at Santa Anita in November, and has now retired unbeaten after 14 wins. She is the highest rated filly/mare on a non turf surface since Inside Information (USA)  back in 1995. That was the year that North America joined the International Classification process, and since then no three year old filly on a non turf surface has come near to matching the achievements of Rachel Alexandra (USA) , who equally created history in defeating the colts in the Preakness Stakes (Gr1) but whose best performance, the handicappers consider, was in the Haskell Stakes (Gr1) at Monmouth Park in August.
Quite apart from this array of exceptional performers, there were a number of other notable achievements worldwide during 2009. The top older sprinters in the world were Australian trained Scenic Blast (AUS) , who travelled to Royal Ascot and won the King’s Stand Stakes (Gr1), having previously won at Group 1 level in the Coolmore Lightning Stakes (Gr1) at Flemington back in January, and the Hong Kong trained gelding Sacred Kingdom (AUS) , who won the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Sprint (Gr1) once again but who also travelled overseas and won the Krisflyer International Sprint (SIN Gr1). In the process, he edged out the Singapore trained gelding Rocket Man (AUS) , whose performance in this race, even in defeat, was the best performance by a three year old sprinter in the world during 2009.
Sacred Kingdom (AUS)  deserves special credit, as 2009 is the third consecutive year in which he has been assessed as either the clear top (in 2007) or the joint top sprinter (in 2008, along with Midnight Lute (USA)) in the world.
Irish three year old colt Rip Van Winkle (IRE)  was somewhat overshadowed by compatriot Sea The Stars (IRE) , who defeated him in the Coral Eclipse Stakes (Gr1) over ten furlongs, but he was equally good at a mile and his impressive performance in defeating Paco Boy (IRE)  in the BGC Sussex Stakes (Gr1) at Goodwood in July has been recognized by the handicappers as the best performance by a three year old miler since Mark of Esteem (GB)  back in 1996. His stablemate Yeats (IRE) , (half brother to Summerhill’s promising young sire, Solskjaer) created history by becoming the first horse to win 4 Ascot Gold Cups in the process being accorded the accolade of Top Stayer in the world in 2009 a distinction he also shared in 2008.
SEA THE STARS (IRE)
RIP VAN WINKLE (IRE)
FAME AND GLORY (GB)
RACHEL ALEXANDRA (USA)
GIO PONTI (USA)
Extract from International Federation of Horseracing Authorities