Wednesday 20th of March 2019
Racing

Longines World’s Best Racehorse 2016

London hosts glamorous Longines event but Americans come out top Trumps.

It was the talk of the town last week as London’s iconic hotel Claridge’s played host to a jubilant mix of Socialites, Fashion editors and sports journalists together with the crème de la crème of the racing world, writes Eleanore Kelly. The occasion: The Longines World’s Best Racehorse award and the World’s Best Horse Race 2016.

Bob Baffert (3rdR) and Lord Teddy Grimthorpe (2ndR) receive the Longines Worlds Best Horse Award from Mr. Juan-Carlos Capelli (L), Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing, and Mr. Louis Romanet (R), IFHA Chairman with Jill Baffert (2ndL) and Bode Baffert (3rdL)

Bob Baffert (3rdR) and Lord Teddy Grimthorpe (2ndR) receive the Longines Worlds Best Horse Award from Mr. Juan-Carlos Capelli (L), Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing, and Mr. Louis Romanet (R), IFHA Chairman with Jill Baffert (2ndL) and Bode Baffert (3rdL)

200 VIP guests came together to toast the highest rated horses in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings during 2016 together with the highest rated race of the year. The event is organised by Longines and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) together with the British Horseracing Authorities. The connections of the three winning horses were all in attendance having travelled from as far afield as Queensland, Australia and California.

Arrogate winning the Breeders' Cup Classic 2016 © Racingfotos.com

Arrogate winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic 2016
© Racingfotos.com

Trainer Bob Baffert poses with Arrogate, the Longines World's Best Racehorse 2016

Trainer Bob Baffert poses with Arrogate, the Longines World’s Best Racehorse 2016

The Breeders’ Cup Classic was named the Longines World’s Best Horse Race for 2016 but Royal Ascot was also included in the line-up. The award recognises the highest-rated Group 1 international race, with the ratings of the top four finishers in each race serving as basis for the assessment. The Breeders’ Cup Classic is a Grade I race for 3-year-olds and upwards with a distance of 1 1⁄4 miles on dirt as opposed to turf. It is held annually at a different racetrack as part of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in late October or early November.

Arrogate, winner of the Breeder’s Cup Classic and the Pegasus World Cup, took the prize of leading horse. The four year old colt is trained by California based American Bob Baffert and owned by Prince Khalid Bin Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms. At the heart of the successful Juddmonte enterprise is British racing doyen, Lord Teddy Grimthorpe who is Prince Abdullah’s Racing Manager and partially responsible for finding and securing the purchase of Arrogate, as a yearling in the Kentucky sales.

California Chrome © Emily Shields

California Chrome © Emily Shields

Another legendary American horse California Chrome, came second in the Longines rankings. The six year old colt who was retired to stud after the recent Pegasus World Cup last weekend enjoyed a long and rich career. This included winning the Kentucky Derby in 2014 and the much coveted Dubai World Cup in 2016. 

Winx © Sharon Lee Chapman

Winx © Sharon Lee Chapman

He won so many accolades that The California State Legislature unanimously passed a resolution recognising his outstanding contribution to the sport and the city of Fresno proclaimed October 11, 2014 as “California Chrome Day”.

Such is the significance of the Longines awards that the co-owners of Australian multiple Grade 1 winning mare Winx flew over 10,000 miles to receive their third-placed prize. Debbie Kepitis gave an emotional acceptance speech which summed up what a hero this horse has been, not just to them but to the people of Australia.

“She has that will to win, that is what makes her stand out” said her trainer Chris Waller who said that a trip to Royal Ascot may be on the cards in the future.

First placed Arrogate is the second American winner of the Longines World’s Best Racehorse award, after American Pharoah topped the rankings last year. The announcement means that Baffert becomes the first trainer to win the Longines World’s Best Racehorse award twice – his Longines watch collection is now an enviable one. In 2015 Baffert was the first trainer to win the Triple Crown in 37 years and has been the leading money-winning trainer in the United States four times.

gettylonginesawards335 jpg-220580-original

In an exclusive interview after the awards, Baffert explained that Arrogate was relatively straight forward to train but required patience in the early days.

“There is more to come from him” he states “I had to be really careful with him early on. Not to let him go too fast too early because he was the kind of horse that if he did, he would get a little stirred up.”

For those wishing to place their next racing bet, we asked Racing Manager Lord Grimthorpe if Arrogate could rival Frankel in terms of racing performance?

“They are very different horses” explained Lord Grimthorpe

“Arrogate is a developing horse. He has only raced six times and he should be going on into his four year old career and begin to really stamp himself. Frankel was exceptional in every way – he was a top class two, three and four year old. Arrogate to match that, has still got a bit of a way to go but he’s a very exciting prospect.”

Baffert is unlikely to bring any of his horses over the pond as he only races his horses on dirt tracks rather than the turf that most British and European horses are accustomed to.

“We are set up strictly for dirt. Although I’m very competitive so if I had some turf horses, I would come” he says. “And of course if the Queen asked me to come to Royal Ascot and ride in her carriage, I’d be there in a heartbeat” he laughed.

 

gettylonginesawards313 jpg-220579-original

Bob Baffert has been the leading money-winning trainer in the United States four times now and in 2015 the 64 year old former Quarter-horse jockey and trainer, became the first trainer to win the Triple Crown in 37 years.

Apparently he has no desire to rest on his laurels and just four days after receiving the Longines award, Arrogate claimed the richest prize in horse racing – The Pegasus World Cup held in Florida.

So apart from winning, what gets him out of bed in the morning? 

“It’s the passion for racing and love for the horses. I have really good horses in the barn so I have really good reason to show up” he says.

“You have to make some major sacrifices to be a successful trainer and that means seven days a week and you really have to love your sport. I probably learn more from my good horses. Better horses make you a better trainer, not only because they are better athletes but because you learn so much more from them, like how to stay out of their way (don’t interfere too much) and also being surrounded by tremendous staff has helped. Like my groom for Arrogate was the same groom for American Pharaoh – and how lucky was he.” He smiles, clutching his prize of yet another Longines watch.

You may also like…

Join us on Facebook




Follow on Twitter