Weights & Measures: Ascot

Ben Linfoot rounds up the revised official ratings following all six races on Champions Day, with Almanzor now up to 129.

Sheikhzayedroad and co do their bit for the Long Distance Cup's G1 ambitions

Almanzor, the (joint) best turf horse in the world

Almanzor >>>> Up 2lb to 129
Found >>>> Remains on 123
Jack Hobbs >>>> Remains on 123

It has been a joy to watch Almanzor this autumn and Jean-Claude Rouget's horse proved himself the best horse in Europe with a comfortable success in the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

His new French rating of 129 not only makes him the best horse on this continent, but the joint-best turf horse in the world and the joint second-best horse in the world overall – only California Chrome is considered superior thanks to his 133 rating achieved on Dirt.

Also on 129 with Almanzor is A Shin Hikari after his 10-length romp in the Prix d'Ispahan, form that might've looked too good to be true following the Japanese horse's disappointing performance in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot.

However, the d'Ispahan form has worked out well. Third home Silverwave went onto win the Group One Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, fourth home Vadamos won the Group One Prix du Moulin, fifth home My Dream Boat won the aforementioned Prince Of Wales's and has performed well behind Almanzor and Found in recent weeks, sixth home New Bay was a creditable fourth in the Irish Champion, seventh home Mondialiste won the Grade One Arlington Million and even last home Erupt won the Grade One Canadian International.

Such a form boost will be considered when the handicappers get together to assess A Shin Hikari for the end of year ratings, so Almanzor isn't quite out on his own as the best turf horse in the world yet, officially at least.

"He's the joint-highest turf horse in the world with A Shin Hikari, who was rated 129 following his win in the Prix d'Ispahan," says British handicapper Dominic Gardiner-Hill.

"A Shin Kikari's win came on heavy ground, but he did beat some good yardsticks very easily.

"At the moment the World Rankings Committee have them both on 129 but obviously all this is subject to the end of year meeting in Hong Kong."

As for Found, her performance in the Irish Champion has been upgraded from 122 to 123 given how well that race has worked out and she was awarded the higher number following her Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe win too.

She retains that 123 rating following her Champion Stakes second, although Gardiner-Hill reckons she wasn't quite at her best at Ascot.

"I think you only have to look at the relativity with My Dream Boat," he says.

"In Ireland she beat him five lengths, but on Saturday she beat him three lengths. Obviously she was drawn wide which didn't help and it was a bit of a muddling race with no real pace early on, but I think she's probably run to about 120 on Saturday, two or three pounds below her best."

Minding puts in best effort yet

Minding >>>> Up 2lb to 122
Ribchester >>>> Up 1lb to 122
Lightning Spear >>> Up 3lb to 120

If Found was a couple of pounds below her best, stablemate Minding reached a new high just 35 minutes earlier in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

The Galileo filly hasn't budged from 120 ever since she burst into the season with her 1000 Guineas romp in May, despite Group One wins in the Oaks, Pretty Polly and Nassau Stakes in the summer.

However, by dropping back to a mile to beat Ribchester, Lightning Spear, Awtaad and Galileo Gold she was able to put in a career-best and, according to Gardiner-Hill, she might be value for more than the half-length winning distance.

"Both Garry O'Gorman from the Irish Turf Club and myself agree that that was probably her best performance," he says.

"Her new official Irish mark is 122 which is up 2lb from anything else she's achieved before.

"The key with Minding was she really put the race to bed a furlong out when she quickened clear. Whether she was idling or getting a little bit tired in the closing stages I don't know, but I'm not entirely sure half-a-length really is a true guide to her superiority.

"To my mind she was probably worth a little bit more than the bare winning distance."

That may well be the case, but there were excuses for plenty in behind.

Ribchester was very keen in the early stages, so it was to his great credit he got within half-a-length of the winner at the line, while Galileo Gold proved even harder for Frankie Dettori to settle and he came up the unfavoured stands' side.

So did Lightning Spear, despite being drawn one stall closer to the far side than the winner, while he was also given plenty to do by Oisin Murphy.

Up 3lb to 120, this was a good effort in the circumstances and he's right up there with the top older milers now. He could well tussle with Ribchester for Group Ones like the Lockinge and Queen Anne next season before the three-year-olds get involved – if he stays in training at six.

Journey reaches destination to the top

Journey >>>> Up 5lb to 120
Speedy Boarding >>>> Remains on 115
Queen's Trust >>>> Up 1lb to 113

The Fillies & Mares turned into a rout and not the one the market expected.

While 5/4 favourite Seventh Heaven ran into trouble, 4/1 chance Journey ran away with the race and produced a clear career-best effort in pulling four lengths clear of top yardstick Speedy Boarding.

Up 5lb to 120, she stays in training as a five-year-old and it will be interesting to see how she gets on against the boys if she goes for races like the Coronation Cup.

The Tin Man follows the yellow brick road

The Tin Man >>>> Up 2lb to 117
Growl >>>> Up 10lb to 114
Brando >>>> Remains on 116

It was always going to be tough for this year's renewal to live up to Muhaarar, an exceptional sprinter who earned a post-race figure of 123 following his win 12 months ago.

Indeed, The Tin Man is 6lb shy of his rating on 117, but this was a career-best effort from a horse that hinted he was ready to strike at the top level after a running-on second in the Haydock Sprint Cup, a race in which he was slowly away.

The favoured far side became apparent in this race as the winner followed the pace set by Signs Of Blessing before scooting home under Tom Queally.

James Fanshawe knows this family really well having trained his half-brother, Deacon Blues (rated 120 following his Champions Day win), to win this race five years ago and The Tin Man was clearly brought to the boil for this assignment, unlike Quiet Reflection and Mecca's Angel, in particular, who didn't run to anywhere near their best in behind.

There's a degree of caution about the overall worth of this form, then, although the excellent efforts of Growl, in first-time cheekpieces, and Brando, shows the Ayr Gold Cup in a really positive light.

Brando gave Growl 9lb and a beating in Scotland, but Richard Fahey's horse managed to reverse that form off level weights, his finishing burst to thank for that.

Both look likely types to do well in this division next year, along with The Tin Man, of course.

Sheikh does his bit for Cup ambitions

Sheikhzayedroad >>>> Up 3lb to 118
Quest For More >>>> Down 1lb to 117
Simple Verse >>>> Remains on 113
Order Of St George >>>> Remains on 120

There's always much talk of the coefficient rankings used in football, used to determine such things, based on performance, like how many teams the Premier League have in the Champions League, for example.

If Champions Day is to home five Group One races in the future, then the Long Distance Cup has to be upgraded from a Group Two, and for that to happen it needs to perform well regularly.

That means having an average official rating of at least 115 for the first four finishers over a three-year period. It didn't happen last year (113), or the year before (110), but it happened this year with the leading quartet producing a 117 average on their revised ratings.

Sheikhzayedroad and Quest For More were well positioned off a moderate gallop and there was only half a length between them at the line, but it seems right that David Simcock's horse is now marginally rated higher than his old rival given he's edged him out twice in tight battles in the last two months.

Order Of St George is still considered the best horse, though, despite finishing fourth. Caught out by the average pace and an average place early on, at least his finishing position is good news for the Long Distance Cup 'coefficient'.

Yuften takes advantage of lenient mark

Yuften >>>> Up 4lb to 105
Remarkable >>>> Up 2lb to 105
Firmament >>>> Up 1lb to 109
Afjaan >>>> Up 1lb to 100
Third Time Lucky >>>> Remains on 101

The richest mile handicap in Europe contested by 19 horses rated between 99 and 110, with the winner taking advantage of a mark of 101.

Yuften was rated 116 in a former life with William Haggas, but slid down the handicap after a spell at Johnny Murtagh's and he was 15lb well in on his best form on just his second start for new handler Roger Charlton.

He drifted left causing interference in the closing stages, but the race was already sewn up by then.

The first four home go up at least a little bit in the weights, but fifth home Third Time Lucky remains on 101.

Drawn in 21 on the near side as all the action unfolded on the far side, Third Time Lucky did much the best of those that raced down the centre and he was one of those that suffered a bit of interference thanks to Yuften's drift.

He's been a bit unlucky not to encounter ground with a bit of cut in it this autumn but his runs in the Cambridgeshire and in this race suggest he's right back to his best.

His effort here can be marked up and if Richard Fahey can find another race for him before the season's end, he's going to be of major interest.

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