Royal Ascot-bound Nature Strip is new #1 on world rankings | Topics: Chris Waller, TRC Global Rankings, Nature Strip, Golden Sixty, Hitotsu, James McDonald

TRC Global Rankings Insight

Top of the pops: Nature Strip (James McDonald) bounds away to complete a hat-tick in the TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick. Photo: Racing and Sports/Steve Hart

Australia’s star sprinter Nature Strip is the new world #1 on Thoroughbred Racing Commentary’s Global Rankings after his impressive victory in the TJ Smith Stakes on Day 1 of The Championships at Randwick on Saturday [April 2].

The Chris Waller-trained seven-year-old, who is set to visit Royal Ascot in the summer, gained a 75-point boost for his dominant 3¼-length victory over world #17Eduardo – enough to catapult him from fifth on the rankings to the top spot, where he replaces Pegasus World Cup winner Life Is Good.

Nature Strip was in Sydney James a hat-trick’s most prestigious sprint under world #1 jockey McDonald, thereby em Chautauqua, who won the race in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The outstanding son of Nicconi has now won eight G1s altogether – plus last year’s Everest, the world’s richest turf race but yet to be accorded Group status.

With Waller-trained stablemate Home Affairs being lined up for the King’s Stand Stakes, Nature Strip is likely to target the Platinum Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot before another crack at the Everest.

“I’m sure the main aim is to have him back here for the Everest and if we can shoot over and see our friends at Royal Ascot it would be pretty special,” Waller said. “It’s good to be taking the right horses and these two are the best sprinters in Australia. It would be nice if they could both get there but it’s still a long way off.”

With big races across the globe last weekend, Nature Strip was by no means the only major mover on the TRC Rankings. After two successive defeats, Hong Kong superstar Golden Sixty (#3 from #10) regained the winning thread with an emphatic victory in the G2 Chairman’s Trophy at Sha Tin.

The six-year-old won eased down by a couple of lengths under Vincent Ho to become the first horse ever to win 20 races in the territory; he also became only the second horse after all-time leading earner Beauty Generation to surpass the HK$100 million mark in prize-money.

On the same Randwick card as Nature Strip, leading Australian three-year-old Hitotsu (#14 from #41) moved into the world Top 20 after becoming the first horse since Mahogany in 1994 to complete the Victoria/Australian (former AJC) Derby double. Two-year-old filly Fireburn (#18 fom #47) also enters the Top 20 after adding the G1 Inglis Sires’ to her Golden Slipper win.

Moving in the other direction, however, is Japanese horse of the year Efforia (#6 from #2) who suffered a shock defeat in the G1 Osaka Hai at Hanshin. Sent off 1-2 on his seasonal debut, he could finish only ninth behind 58-1 longshot winner Potager; He reportedly returned after the race with swelling over his right eye after knocking his head in the starting gate.

Unlike traditional methods of racehorse rankings, TRC Global Rankings are a measure of an individual’s level of achievement over a rolling three-year period.

Since 2014, TRC Global Rankings have provided a principled hierarchy of the leading jockeys, trainers, owners and sires using statistical learning techniques.

Two years in the gestation, racehorse rankings were published for the first time in August 2020 and can be compared to similar exercises in other sports, like the golf’s world rankings or the ATP rankings in tennis.

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