24 April 2024

The World's Greatest Racehorses

The argument of the World’s Greatest Racehorses has been a long-lasting conversation. With champions from across the globe and throughout centuries, the argument will never truly be settled. We thought we’d enter the argument anyway and have our say on the best ever. With our top 10 Australian horses of all time and our top 10 overseas horses of all time.


  1. Black Caviar

The greatest horse in Australian racing. Born in Nagambie in 2006, by Group 1 winning sire Bel Esprit out of the blue hen unraced mare Helsinge, Black Caviar recorded 25 undefeated victories, including 15 at Group 1 level from 2009-2013. She won 14 Group 1s in Australia breaking the track record in the Lightning Stakes which she won 3 times, before multiple victories in the T.J Smith Stakes and a famous victory in the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Black Caviar

  1. Winx

The most winning Group 1 horse in Australian history who saluted 25 times during a golden age in Australian Racing. Picked up where Black Caviar left off and after failing a few times as a juvenile became undefeatable in the latter end of her 3YO year before going on to win 33 straight races including a record 4 Cox Plates for Champion trainer Chris Waller. Never travelled overseas she regularly won from 1400-2000m and recorded over $26M in prizemoney.

  1. Phar Lap

Not only a fantastic race record, with freakish exploits but the only animal to ever carry a country through a depression. After only winning 1 of his first 10 starts he sprung wings as a late three-year-old, going on to win 37 times from 51 career starts including a Melbourne Cup and 2 Cox Plates before conquering North America, Phar Lap mysteriously passed away in San Francisco. He is considered to be one of the greats not only because of his fantastic record but also because of his influence on Australia and Australian culture.

  1. Carbine

During his career on the race track, Carbine started 43 times for 33 wins, six seconds and three-thirds, failing to place only once due to a badly split hoof. He was popular with racing fans, and sporting commentators of the day praised him for his gameness, versatility, stamina and weight-carrying ability, as well as for his speed. The winner of the Melbourne Cup carried 66kg, the most weight carried by a Melbourne Cup winner ever carrying a remarkable 24kg more than the second-placed horse. On four occasions Carbine won twice on the same day. Over half of the 65 Melbourne Cup winners from 1914 to 1978 were descendants of Carbine.

  1. Makybe Diva

The only horse ever to record 3 straight Melbourne Cup victories from 2003-2005 as well as winning the Cox Plate, Sydney Cup, BMW and Australian Cup. “A Champion, Becomes A Legend” will long be heard as one of the most famous calls in world racing as Makybe Diva crossed the line under Glen Boss to win her third Melbourne Cup, a feat that may never be seen again.

Makybe Diva

  1. So You Think

Bart Cummings most talented racehorse who won the Cox Plate at 3, and then again at 4 before being sold to Coolmore Stud as a stallion prospect, where he was transferred to Aiden O’Brien’s Ballydoyle stable in Ireland. Whilst he would have almost undoubtedly won a 3rd straight Cox Plate had he stayed on Australian shores, his crowning moment was instead overseas, where a win at Royal Ascot in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes secured his spot as a Champion of Australasia and the world. Concluding his racing career with 10 career Group 1s in 3 different countries and across 2 continents, before going on to have a very impressive stud career where he currently stands at Coolmore Stud in the Hunter Valley

  1. Kingston Town

Definitely in the conversation to be higher, and undoubtedly one of the champions of Australian Racing. He won 14 Group 1 races including 3 straight Cox Platres during the course of his career and he was the first major champion to emerge when the ARB went to the Group classification system. His first Group 1 win was the Spring Champion Stakes (2000 m) in 1979 and his last was the Western Mail Classic (1800 m) at the end of 1982. Behind his 14 Group 1 wins, a record which stood until Black Caviar broke it in 2013, Kingston also twice ran second in Australia’s great race the Melbourne Cup.

  1. Vain

Vain was a champion racehorse who dominated Australian sprint racing in the period 1968-70 and went on to become a top sire.
The chestnut colt by Wilkes out of the Orgoglio mare Elated won 12 of the 14 races he contested, and ran second in the other two.

As a two-year-old he was unbeaten in Melbourne in the spring of 1968 and autumn of 1969, winning races such as the VRC Sires Produce. Moving to Sydney he won the STC Golden Slipper Stakes by 4 lengths, and the AJC Champagne Stakes by 10 lengths, the latter in the fastest time ever recorded for two-year-old over 6 furlongs. Setting the Australian prize money record as a two and three-year-old.

  1. Galilee

Galilee was a New Zealand-bred gelding who became one of the most successful racehorses in Australia. Galilee was the first and is still the only horse to win the Caulfield, Melbourne and Sydney Cups in one season. Trained by Bart Cummings the champion racehorse also easily won such races as the Queen Elizabeth Stakes the Toorak Handicap and the C.B. Fisher Plate, in which he defeated champion middle-distance horse Tobin Bronze.

  1. Nature Strip

A champion gelding who dominated the Australian sprinting ranks over a 4 year period, before his crowning moment when destroying the 2022 King’s Stand Stakes field at Royal Ascot over 1000m. Among his best exploits, he also won 3 TJ Smith Stakes, a feat only replicated by Chautauqua.

Notable Mentions: Anamoe, Verry Ellegant, Northerly, Lonhro, Octagonal, Atlantic Jewel, Tie The Knot, Better Loosen Up, Super Impose, Chautauqua, Pierro


Racing worldwide has long seen a battle between American and European horses. Over time the distances that races have been competed have gotten shorter and shorter but through the 20th century, many champion horses showed their quality. Traditionally the world’s best racehorses are those who have won multiple of the world’s greatest races, with little or no defeats. The classic distances are between 1600m and 2400m. Whilst not exclusive to these distances many of those horses to be considered history’s greatest ever have won one or more of the world’s best races. (BTX will be releasing a blog on the world’s best races in the coming weeks)

  1. Frankel

14 race starts for 14 races wins including 10 Group 1s, defeating 25 Group 1 winners including Enable’s sire Nathaniel, Coolmore stallion Excelebration and a variety of others. Known for his dominant performances, Frankel won the Dewhurst over 1400m’s as a 2-year-old, before destroying his opponents in the 2000 Guineas at his first start at 3. He then destroyed fields in the Queen Anne and the Juddmonte Stakes to finish with the highest Timeform rating of all time. He has since become the World Champion stallion and undoubtedly the heir to his champion father Galileo.

Frankel – The Greatest Ever

Frankel – The Greatest Ever

  1. Man O’War

Man o’ War won 20 of 21 races and is considered by many to be the greatest racehorse of the 20th century. He won the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, storming to victory by 20 lengths in the Belmont before defeating the Kentucky Derby Champion in a match race. In total, he won his career races by over 100 lengths and became a very notable sire.

  1. Flightline

Flightline’s victory in the $6-million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland was the culmination of a historic career in which he won all six starts—including four Grade 1s—and earned $4,514,800. His rating of 139 is the second-highest ever assigned by the World’s Best Racehorse rankings behind only Frankel and he is the highest-rated dirt horse in history. Racing only 6 times before being retired to stud. His smallest race victory was a 4 length win. His largest win was a 19-length demolition in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic.

  1. Secretariat

In a career that spanned only 16 months, Secretariat started 21 times, won 16 and finished in the money in all but his first race. He was an odds-on favourite 17 times, winning 13. By the time he went to stud, he had won back-to-back Horse of the Year awards. He came to fame with the most dominant Triple Crown win in history. Breaking the race record in the Kentucky Derby before winning the Belmont Stakes by an unbelievable 31 lengths, a race where the 69,000 crowd was in awe as jockey Ron Turcotte raced the clock, not worrying about his struggling opponents behind.

  1. Ribot

An Italian-bred horse, Ribot achieved the remarkable feat of winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in consecutive years (1955 and 1956) as well as 4 Italian Group 1 wins from ages 2-4. He retired undefeated in 16 starts. His consecutive successes in the arc not only stamped him as one of the great racehorses but also significantly raised the reputation of Italian racing.

  1. Sea The Stars

Put together arguably the greatest racing campaign of all time winning 6 Group 1s in one European Summer. Ridden by champion jockey Michael Kinane, Sea The Stars was the commanding winner of the 2000 Guineas, Derby, Coral Eclipse, Juddmonte International, Irish Champion Stakes and his crowning moment in the Prix de l’arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. Finished his career with a record of 9 runs for 8 wins and now stands as one of the most expensive stallions in the world where he has sired the best horse of the last 10 years in Baaeed.

Sea The Stars

  1. Sea Bird

Sea-Bird is often considered one of the greatest thoroughbreds in French racing history. His victory in the Arc is particularly memorable for its dominant performance. Sea Bird’s racing career peaked in 1965 when he delivered a season of unparalleled dominance with 5 straight victories, his highlighted performances came in the Derby, Grand Prix de Saint Cloud, before culminating in a spectacular victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe by 6 lengths. Sea Bird II is celebrated for his exceptional talent, remarkable performances and versatility.

  1. Dancing Brave

Known for his stunning late burst of speed, Dancing Brave won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1986 in what is often considered one of the greatest performances in the race’s history. He won the Derby by 6 lengths in a devastating display before winning by a neck in the arc in what is considered to be one of the greatest fields ever to be assembled for the race. Throughout his career, he won races from a mile to a mile and a half.

  1. Nijinsky

Coined the ‘Jesus Christ ‘of Flat Racing, at least in terms of his popularity amongst the Racing public. In the history of Racing perhaps only Arkle and Red Rum surpassed his popularity. Winner of the 2000 Guineas, Derby, and King George Irish Derby. Nijinsky made history by becoming the first horse to ever win the Triple Crown, the King George and the Irish Derby, something unequalled to this day. He registered his 11th consecutive win, a record for a middle-distance British Racehorse, before his defeat in the in the St Leger, his only loss.

  1. Mill Reef

A medium-sized, neat bay horse with superb balance and quality, Mill Reef was blessed with beautifully light, fluid action and an excellent turn of foot. Put together one of the most impressive European three-year-old seasons of all time winning the Derby, Eclipse, King George and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in one summer. His record of 6 consecutive Group 1s stood for over 30 years, before being broken by Rock Of Gibraltar in 2002.

Notable Mentions: Equinox, Deep Impact, Orfevre, Rock Of Gibraltar, Dubai Millenium, Justify, Shergar, Brigadier Gerard, Yeats, Enable, Baaeed, Nijinsky, Ouija Board, Goldikova, Zenyatta, Zarkava, Camelot

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