Last Saturday’s $30 million Dubai World Cup night towered over world racing last week, so it is no surprise that events there had a significant impact on the TRC Global Rankings. Here we look at some of the most notable developments.
The march of the Godolphin trainers
Charlie Appleby’s inexorable rise up the trainers’ rankings has been well documented here recently, but the Briton slipped into another gear entirely on Saturday with two mighty G1 strikes on the Meydan turf. The victories of Jungle Cat (Al Quoz Sprint) and Hawkbill (Dubai Sheema Classic) have propelled him into third place, with only Aidan O’Brien and Bob Baffert ahead. That means he’s above Chad Brown, Darren Weir, John Gosden and a host of other giants. Heady company indeed for the Newmarket-based 42-year-old.
Such fine achievement surely helps paper over the disappointment of the highly touted Gold Town’s receding image in Mendelssohn’s rear-view mirror in the UAE Derby.
Appleby’s eight-point gain week on week makes him the joint second highest points gainer last week across all categories in the rankings. Only one individual outpaced him - his Godolphin colleague Saeed Bin Suroor.
The softly spoken Emirati enhanced his already formidable World Cup night record with a double of his own - and what a double! Benbatl in the Dubai Turf and Thunder Snow in the World Cup itself were jointly credited with the highest Racing Post Rating of the week (123 - one pound in front of Mendelssohn).
That means a gain of ten points, putting Bin Suroor up to #8 in the trainers’ rankings from #11.
After a period of some frustration, things are clearly looking up for Bin Suroor. Before the World Cup, he told TRC contributor Laura King of his optimism over his string for 2018 going into the new season in Europe. “Hopefully we can find some stars,” he said.
All of which sounds fairly ominous for his rivals.
Galileo looking vulnerable in the top spot
The Coolmore leviathan has been the world’s #1 sire for more than a year now, and his prodigious G1 collection of 2017 is already the stuff of legend. Yet suddenly that standing is under threat.
The last stallion to usurp him at the top - albeit briefly - was the Japanese supersire Deep Impact, but it is the Darley #1 Dubawi who is challenging Galileo now.
While Galileo’s abundant successes have been largely restricted to European turf, and have been therefore truncated over recent months, Dubawi’s stock have continued to flourish on different continents and on both turf and dirt. Indeed, of his 11 representatives running on Saturday’s Meydan card, four raced on dirt.
Dubawi’s World Cup night scoresheet included one win (Benbatl), two seconds, two thirds and a fourth. Since September 1 last year, Dubawi is 17 for 102 in global Group and Graded races, while Galileo is 16 for 133. The gap is now just five points.
There are still a few weeks to go before the British and Irish classics, which may provide sanctuary for Galileo, although ironically perhaps the most potent threat to his classic crop of 2018 may come from his own backyard in the shapes of two Aidan O’Brien-trained offspring of Deep Impact: 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby favourite Saxon Warrior and Epsom Oaks second favourite September.
Team Cummings out to keep up the pressure
The momentum is certainly with Godolphin and their associates, yet the operation still have some way to go to threaten Coolmore Partners at the top of the owners’ standings.
The gap has been reduced to 26 points after Meydan, and it may close again after this coming weekend, when Godolphin’s trainer in Australia, the hugely impressive 30-year-old James Cummings, fields a strong squad at another of the world’s great race days, the first of the two successive Saturdays of The Championships at Randwick.
Heading the Cummings battalion, likely to feature ten horses, is the Randwick Guineas winner Kementari, fresh from running a fine third behind Winx in the George Ryder last month and likely favourite for the A$3 million Doncaster Mile.
Whether Cummings, Bin Suroor, Appleby & Co. will be able to sustain the invigorated Godolphin challenge for the top spot over the next few months as Aidan O’Brien unleashes his forces will be one of the most interesting sideshows of racing in 2018.
The Mark Zahra show goes on
It was only last week that we pointed out how the 35-year-old Aussie jock had risen nearly 300 places in the rankings in the previous three years. He was up to #22 then, but guess what! He’s gone up another three slots since after winning a G2 at Rosehill in Sydney on Saturday.
Welcome Danielle Johnson
The prowess of female riders in the New Zealand jockey colony is well known. Four of the top six in the Premiership for the current season are women. Last year it was three of the top six.
That’s everyday racing, of course. When it comes to G1s, even in New Zealand connections tend to lean towards employing men instead, although perhaps less so than in other climes.
Six of the 21 New Zealand-based riders in the TRC jockeys’ rankings are women, yet until this week two of the most outstanding - current Premiership leader Samantha Collett and fourth-placed Danielle Johnson - have been missing.
Johnson’s absence has been particularly noticeable. Now 27, she has been a top-five rider in the NZ Premiership every year since 2013 - yet she has consistently missed out on the big-race rides that could have helped her break into our top 500.
Not this week though. Johnson’s victory on Avantage in the G1 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes at Awapuni means she enters the rankings at #387.
We are still waiting for the 28-year-old Collett, runaway leader in the Premiership, to take her rightful place too in the 500. All she needs is the opportunity.
Click here for a list of all last week’s biggest TRC Global Rankings points gainers.
Click here for a list of all the week’s Group and Graded winners.