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Horse Racing

Equinox is Named the World's Best Racehorse for 2023

After retiring with a four-length triumph in the Japan Cup, Equinox was honored for his unbeaten final year on the track at the World Racing Awards in London.

At the 2023 Longines World Racing Awards ceremony, Equinox and the Japan Cup, the last race the superstar thoroughbred competed in, were both recognized for their excellence last year.

Equinox, who retired after winning the race by four lengths over Japanese fillies' Triple Crown winner Liberty Island on November 26, was named the World's Best Racehorse for 2023 at a lavish banquet in London on Tuesday, January 23.

The Japan Cup, held at Tokyo Racecourse, was Equinox's sixth consecutive victory in Grade 1 races (five in Japan and one in the United Arab Emirates), including four victories in 2023. All of those wins were achieved with French jockey Christophe Lemaire riding him.

The 2,400-meter, Grade 1 Japan Cup, which featured eight G1 race winners (including France-based gelding Iresine), was recognized as 2023's World's Best Horse Race.

Lemaire, Equinox trainer Tetsuya Kimura and Silk Racing Co Ltd CEO Masashi Yonemoto attended the awards ceremony at The Savoy. Japan Racing Association President Masayoshi Yoshida and former JRA president Masayuki Goto, now the organization's executive adviser of international affairs, also went to the annual gathering to accept the World's Best Horse Race Award.

Equinox
Jockey Christophe Lemaire (left), who rode Equinox to eight victories in 10 career races, Silk Racing Co Ltd CEO Masashi Yonemoto (center) and trainer Tetsuya Kimura pose for a commemorative photo at the 2023 Longines World Racing Awards ceremony in London on January 23. (LONGINES)

Insights on Equinox and the Japan Cup

Yonemoto, Equinox's owner, reflected on the horse's achievements and the Japan Cup's growth and success as a top-flight international race. It was established in 1981.

"Every race he had was very impressive, but I'd like to say Dubai was great," Yonemoto was quoted as saying by bloodhorse.com. "We then had a very good summer and Equinox continued to improve and he entered the Japan Cup in perfect form. His supple, strong, and beautiful stride could be viewed in every race and absolutely fascinated everyone who watched him race."

Yonemoto continued: "I'd like to thank the Japan Cup for being such a great race. It must not have been easy to develop such a great race for Japanese racing, so I have a great respect for that."

Equinox, who retired with eight wins and two runner-up finishes in 10 career races, received a top rating of 135 for 2023.

In a short post on X (formerly Twitter), Lemaire acknowledged that Tuesday's announcement for Equinox's award is quite meaningful to him.

"Can't be more happy for Equinox being awarded as the [world's] best horse and for enjoying a day in London for the occasion," Lemaire wrote.

Heart's Cry-sired Just A Way was the first Japanese thoroughbred to be crowned the World's Best Racehorse for his extraordinary success in 2014, which included winning that year's G1 Dubai Duty Free by six lengths.

Equinox
Japan Racing Association President Masayoshi Yoshida (left) attends the Longines World Racing Awards ceremony in London on January 23. (LONGINES)

Determining the Best Horse and the Best Race

The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities utilizes the expertise of racing officials and international handicappers, who evaluate the performances of horses, to devise the points system.

Similarly, the IFHA determines the World's Best Horse Race. In a news release, the organization summarized how this is done. "The ratings of the top four finishers in each race serve as [a] basis for the assessment," read a passage in the report.

For 2023, the Japan Cup secured the year's top honor with a rating of 126.75. It marked the first time the Japan Cup was selected for the World's Best Horse Race Award.

It's just a shoe!

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.

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