It has been an unforgettable year of horse racing action throughout 2023, with some stars emerging across the planet, and others increasing their reputations as the best in class.
Horse racing is a sport that is constantly on the agenda, with meetings taking place on a daily basis, but the Grade 1s are where the cream rises to the top. If you need a guide for placing a wager next year, check out the TwinSpires article.
But, what were some of the best moments of the 2023 horse racing season?
Equinox- Dubai Sheema Classic
The flat racing season was stepped up a gear in March, as the Dubai World Cup night saw some stunning performances. But, few were in the same stratosphere as Equinox in the Dubai Sheema Classic. The Japanese-trained runner was a short-priced favourite, but the race at Meydan offered a first look at the horse against staller European opposition.
However, he more than rose to the occasion, as Christophe Lemaire didn’t move on the four-year-old throughout the race, eventually finishing over three lengths clear of Westover. That form was certainly trumped later in the season, with the runner-up finishing a mighty second in the Arc. But, excitement levels will be high ahead of Equinox’s return to the track in the Japan Cup.
Galopin Des Champs- Cheltenham Gold Cup
There was no shortage of massive performances at the Cheltenham Festival in 2023, with an honourable mention going to Constitution Hill in the Champion Hurdle. However, Galopin Des Champs was the chaser that everyone was talking about in the lead up to the Festival in March, with many still questioning whether he had the stamina for the later stages in the Gold Cup.
Those doubts were put to rest emphatically by the Willie Mullins runner, as the seven-year-old finished over seven lengths clear of King George winner Bravemansgame. Galopin Des Champs will be looking to continue his legacy at Cheltenham in 2024, as he bids to become a back-to-back winner of the Gold Cup.
Mage- Kentucky Derby
The opening Triple Crown race of the season in the United States is always one of the eye-catching dates for the diary. The interest in the race drifted slightly before the race at Churchill Downs, as long-time favorite Forte was scratched just hours before the race. However, a new star was born in the race this year, as Gustavo Delgado trained the winner of the Derby for the first time.
Mage was impressive at Churchill Downs, and he battled strongly to finish a length clear of Two Phil’s. But, he fell short in his Preakness Stakes bid, eventually finishing third at Pimlico. But, it has been teased that the three-year-old may remain in training next year.
Arcangelo- Travers Stakes
This year was a breakout campaign for trainer Jena Antonicci, as she became the first female trainer to land a success in a Triple Crown race. Arcangelo was stunning when winning the Belmont Stakes by just under two lengths from Forte, but his standout win would come back over a mile and two at Saratoga when besting the Travers Stakes field.
The three-year-old was once again overlooked in the betting, but he travelled excellently throughout the race to win by a length from Disarm. The Belmont form was upheld, with Forte finishing back in fourth. However, he missed out on a date with destiny in the Breeders’ Cup Classic due to injury, and he was sent to stud by connections.
Ace Impact- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
The standout race on the turf schedule was held at Longchamp in early October, and all eyes were on unbeaten champion Ace Impact. There were questions surrounding the three-year-old, as he had never previously competed over a mile and four, but he showcased his outstanding quality in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to speed clear of the field to win by just under two lengths from Westover.
That was his sixth straight success under rules, and added to the Grade 1 prize won earlier in the campaign in the form of the Prix du Jockey Club. However, the decision was made soon after the race that he would be retired, meaning that we won’t be seeing Ace Impact again in 2024.
White Abarrio- Breeders’ Cup Classic
The Breeders’ Cup was once again full of huge performances, including Auguste Rodin’s success in the Turf and Cody’s Wish defending his title in the Dirt Mile. However, a new champion was crowned in the Classic, as Richard Dutrow Jr trained White Abarrio to a memorable success at Santa Anita.
The four-year-old was excellent over a mile and two, as he landed a second straight Grade 1 prize. He finished a length clear of Derma Sotogake, and was considerably the best American runner in the field. All attention now switches to the 2024 season, where the main aim will be retaining his Classic title.