Who is the most successful jockey in the world? Who’s is the most effective trainer? Which owner leads the way in worldwide achievement? Which stallion is having the most impact?
If we were asking these sorts of questions in any other major sport, it would be a simple matter to find the answer. Just look at the rankings.
In golf, for instance, Jason Day still has a stranglehold on the No.1 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings despite the powerful form of Dustin Johnson (No.2) and the recent resurgence of Rory McIlroy (No.3).
In tennis, Novak Djokovic has been so supreme in recent times that he is still out on his own in the Emirates ATP World Rankings despite failing to reach his normal level since his historic win in the French Open in June. Serena Williams, though, finally had to give way at the top of the WTA standings this summer to the new U.S. Open champion, Angelique Kerber.
Every major sport has a clear, mathematically defined system showing exactly how all its participants compare with one another. These rankings are based on achievement - purely on facts, if you will. Judgement, opinion, perceived potential, hard luck stories - none of them have any relevance.
Horse racing is a massive, multi-billion-dollar industry with huge jurisdictions on every continent. Not only are the horses up against each other day-in, day-out, so are the humans. Competition takes place over the same distances under a set of conditions that are directly comparable the world over. And horses’ performances are assessed under standard ratings criteria that show how they all compare globally.
Yet horse racing is the one major sport that does not have any world rankings for the people who take part in it. There are various national and regional championships acting as basic orders of merit for most localities, but we have no real idea how achievements of the top individuals in North America compare with those of their counterparts in Europe, Australia or the Far East.
At least we didn’t until now. Or next Thursday, to be precise.
The day it all begins
That’s launch day for the TRC Global Rankings, a comprehensive system that produces a rolling weekly set of standings for each of four categories - jockeys, trainers, owners and stallions - based on results in all the Graded and Group races in all the major racing countries around the world over the previous three years.
The rankings will list the top 500 individuals in order in each category based on the merit of what they have achieved over that period. It will be updated every Thursday.
So you will be able to see definitively how Mike Smith and Javier Castellano compare to Joao Moreira, Ryan Moore and Hugh Bowman; how the achievements of Todd Pletcher and Bob Baffert stack up against Aidan O’Brien, Andre Fabre, John Moore and Chris Waller; how the most successful American owners compare to the likes of Godolphin, Coolmore and Juddmonte; where the results of Tapit and Curlin put them in a world order that will include Deep Impact, Dubawi and Galileo.
Make no mistake, these are no haphazard statistics, impulsively rushed out because we suddenly had half an idea and wanted to bring it out as soon as possible.
The TRC Global Rankings have been three years on the drawing board. They are heavyweight, robust listings that dig very deep into worldwide racing, interrogating only what has happened on the racecourse. Many times we changed direction on that drawing board as we sought the correct way to allow for and measure different factors at work in each jurisdiction.
Now we have arrived at an industry-standard system that truly reflects the impact jockeys, trainers, owners and stallions have been making over a rolling three-year period.
Here’s how it is done
Simply put, it all depends on how well their representatives, the horses, are running. The amount of prize money they win is of no consequence, the reputation of the races they take part in is immaterial if the quality of the horses is not up to scratch, the odds they start at are irrelevant.
All that counts is the merit of their performances. The better your representatives are running, the more likely you are to achieve a high position in the rankings.
At the heart of the computation, are Racing Post Ratings (RPRs). These merit ratings are widely accepted as a good measure of the level horses run to in the best races around the world.
The RPRs achieved by every runner in every G1, G2 and G3 race run in all the major racing countries every year - there are around 1,450 of them - are a key ingredient in the formula that determines the overall points total of each individual.
Because a Racing Post Rating of, say, 120 is designed to reflect the same merit whether the race took place in Europe, America or Japan, the TRC Global Rankings can capture the global impact of the competitors relative to each other.
In this way, an underlying structure to global racing should be apparent. The jockeys, trainers and owners at the top should be the galacticos of the sport; indeed, they will be familiar to most who have a sufficiently international outlook. But there will be plenty of names who are new, or novel, to many racing fans. And finding out how their accomplishments stack up with household names domestically should prove highly informative.
Indeed, it may be that your perception of who is actually top dog in your own country is wide of the mark in the first place.
It’s all part of racing’s growing internationalisation
As racing continues its internationalisation apace, it is no longer satisfactory to compartmentalise success when horses are shipped round the world to compete against each other and global operations source talent from an increasingly disparate base.
The first time we ran the rankings, it was fascinating to see how the big names on each continent compared with one another. There is no attempt to be politically correct here either; at every step of the development, we stayed true to robust method, so that the analysis informed us, and not the other way round.
There are many other strands to the TRC Global Rankings. It will be possible to compare the relative progress of young stallions across generations, for instance, or to spot young talent before the rest of the world has noticed.
It all adds up to what we believe is a significant development in the way racing is understood internationally. Make sure you check it out here next Thursday.