The world’s all-time highest-earning racehorses: Lys Gracieux makes a big mark

The spectacular victory by Lys Gracieux in Sunday’s Arima Kinen at Nakayama in Japan has catapulted the mare into the top 20 in the list of the world’s all-time highest-earning Thoroughbred racehorses.

The 5-year-old daughter of Heart’s Cry put up possibly the performance of the season in thrashing a hugely talented field in the country’s joint richest race (alongside the Japan Cup), as you can see from this video.

It took her earnings in her last two outings to just short of £4 million - she won the Cox Plate in Australia at the end of October - nearly doubling her career earnings, to £8,387,667. That puts her in 16th place in our list, just one below her compatriot Almond Eye, who was odds-on favourite for the Arima Kinen but possibly failed to stay the 2,500m distance (1m4½f), fading to ninth as second favourite Lys Gracieux surged clear.

Lys Gracieux, who won’t be climbing any higher in the list as she has now been retired, is the third highest-earning runner of 2019 worldwide, behind Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow and Pegasus World Cup Turf and Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Bricks And Mortar (whose career total of £5,581,017 is not quite enough to make our top 40).

She was allotted a Racing Post Rating of just 123 after the race, but that appears to severely undervalue her, and it is to be hoped the experts who compile the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings show they have been considerably more impressed when their final list for the year is published next month.

In the table below, the most recent climbers are highlighted.

The top 40


It should be noted that the standings most North Americans will be familiar with - the one compiled by Equibase - include only horses that raced in North America even if it was just once, whereas the TRC list includes all horses worldwide (and is therefore - Winx, Arrogate, Thunder Snow, Gun Runner and Enable apart - dominated by Japanese).

As an example, Espoir City, who was winning valuable races on the dirt in Japan until he was eight, is sixth on the Equibase list by virtue of a single run down the field behind Blame in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. He ranks 20th on our world list, but we would not include him in North American standings.

Of course, when analysing any list of global leading money-earners, it must be remembered that much depends on what currency is used. Our list was originally compiled by the International Racing Bureau, which is a British company, hence the use of sterling and the official overseas currency exchange rates issued by the British Horseracing Authority in the first week of every January.

That accounts for one element about this list some Americans find confusing - Curlin’s total (£5,291,024) being lower than that of Cigar. Until 2015, it had become accepted that Curlin was the all-time U.S.-trained money leader, more than $500,000 clear of Cigar. Yet currency conversion rates a decade ago tell a different story, as you can see in the table. Curlin is just outside our list (his total works out at £5,291,024).

It should also be noted, of course, that this list makes no attempt to allow for inflation.

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