World Class: Almanzor the best in Europe but not yet up there with the greats

Almanzor (

Almanzor was awarded an RPR of 129 for his Champion Stakes win

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

 By Sam Walker 3:40PM 18 OCT 2016 

ALMANZOR and Minding look set to battle it out for the Cartier European Horse of the Year Award after both posted career-best performances on British Champions Day.

Almanzor landed the flagship event on Saturday, the Champion Stakes, by two lengths from Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Found with an RPR of 129 that puts him on top of the European standings.

Just earlier Minding had landed the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, defeating five individual Group 1 winners and taking her personal tally to five Group 1 wins for the year.

If it was judged on ratings alone, Almanzor has clearly proved himself top of the tree in Europe after winning top-class runnings of the Champion Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes with two of the highest RPRs we have seen all year.

Minding breaks new ground

But Minding’s achievements this season also deserve high praise as she’s been breaking new ground thanks to her exemplary versatility and consistency.

The Ballydoyle filly cantered all over her contemporaries to become the first winner of the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks for a decade (the second since 1990) before posting easy victories against her elders in the Pretty Polly and Nassau Stakes.

She didn’t get the best trip when up against males for the first time in the Irish Champion Stakes last month, staying on up the rail to finish third behind Almanzor and Found, but on Saturday she was right back to her exceptional best, beating the boys to become the first filly to win the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes since Milligram in 1987.

An RPR of 123 for her latest success in effect puts her at the top of the European mile standings as a 3lb filly’s allowance would put her ahead of the 124-rated trio of leading males Galileo Gold, Ribchester and The Gurkha.

She was the champion juvenile filly in Europe last year and is undoubtedly the best of her age and sex again this year. With a total of seven top-flight wins, spanning from 7f to 1m4f, across the last two seasons, she is knocking on the door of greatness and could be back to add to her haul next year.

Almanzor lowest-rated champion in a decade

Almanzor is likely to finish the year as the best in Europe with his mark of 129, although that would make him the lowest-rated European champion of the last ten years alongside 2014 champion Australia.

The French colt is due a break now and will be back in training as a four-year-old when his patient trainer Jean-Claude Rouget will aim to bring him over for Royal Ascot (presumably the Prince of Wales’s Stakes) before deciding whether to step him up in trip for the Arc.

Champion Stakes runner-up Found could be back in action as early as next month, with the Breeders’ Cup Turf on the agenda, while third-placed Jack Hobbs is being aimed at the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March when he could meet Postponed.

Journey could continue next year

Yet another player in the burgeoning middle-distance division for 2017 could be John Gosden’s filly Journey (121), who streaked clear of her rivals to land the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes by four lengths.

The daughter of Dubawi is getting better with age. She finished fifth on her sole start at two before improving rapidly at three, her RPRs climbing from 77 in May to 117 in October, and she has progressed again this year.

She will receive a 3lb mares’ allowance if she takes on the colts next year, so any further improvement from her current high of 121 could see her hit the frame at the top level.

Jameka lands Caulfield Cup

The big race in Australia last week was the Caulfield Cup. The well-fancied Jameka (115) won by a cosy three lengths from Charlie Appleby’s Scottish (113), with former Sir Michael Stoute charge Exospheric (113) back in third.

The winner had a handy sit turning into the straight and kicked on early to quickly put the race to bed, with Exospheric, Almoonqith (fourth) and Our Ivanhowe (sixth) staying on late with eyecatching runs.

Almoonqith, who started his career with Rouget in France, didn’t get the clearest of runs before staying on strongly. With winning form over 2m, he can be expected to build on this and hit the frame in the Melbourne Cup at Flemington next month, for which he is a best-priced 25-1.

Saturday’s Caulfield success saw Jameka pick up a 1.5kg (3.3lb) penalty for the Melbourne Cup, which means she will need to improve again to land the big one next month.

She has the right profile to do so, but Hartnell, set to take on Winx in Saturday’s Cox Plate, is still the pick on RPRs. 


Name (country trained) Race Rating
1 California Chrome (US) Awesome Again/Pacific Classic 133D
2 Arrogate (US) Travers Stakes 131D
3 Frosted (US) Metropolitan Handicap 130D
4 A Shin Hikari (Jpn) Prix d’Ispahan 129T
  Almanzor (Fr) Champion Stakes 129T
6 A.P. Indian (US) Forego Stakes 126D
  Limato (GB) Prix de la Foret 126T
  Postponed (GB) Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup 126T
  Winx (Aus) Doncaster Mile 126T
10 Aerovelocity (HK) Centenary Sprint Cup 125T
  Fascinating Rock (Ire) Tattersalls Gold Cup 125T
  Mecca’s Angel (GB) Nunthorpe Stakes 125T


Name (country trained) Race Rating
1 A Shin Hikari (Jpn) Prix d’Ispahan 129
  Almanzor (Fr) Champion Stakes 129
3 Limato Prix de la Foret 126
  Postponed (GB) Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup 126
  Winx (Aus) Doncaster Mile 126
6 Aerovelocity (HK) Centenary Sprint Cup 125
  Fascinating Rock (Ire) Tattersalls Gold Cup 125
  Limato (GB) Darley July Cup 125
  Mecca’s Angel (GB) Nunthorpe Stakes 125
9 Chautauqua (Aus) Black Caviar Lightning 124
  Found (Ire) Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 124
  Galileo Gold (GB) St James’s Palace Stakes 124
  Harzand (Ire) Derby 124
  Highland Reel (Ire) Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 124
  Terravista (Aus) Black Caviar Lightning 124
  The Gurkha (Ire) Sussex Stakes 124
  Time Test (GB) Brigadier Gerard 124


Name (country trained) Race Rating
1 California Chrome (US) Pacific Classic/Awesome Again 133
2 Arrogate (US) Travers Stakes 131
3 Frosted (US) Metropolitan Handicap 130
4 A.P. Indian Forego Stakes 126
5 Nyquist (US) Kentucky Derby 124
Songbird (US) Cotillion 124
7 Dortmund (US) San Diego Handicap 123
  Exaggerator (US) Haskell Invitational 123
9 Effinex (US) Oaklawn Handicap 122
10 Lord Nelson (US)


Santa Anita Sprint 122

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