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Top 10 Performances of the 2021/22 Season

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

With the close of the 2021/22 Australian Racing Season, I bring the top 10 individual winning performances from the season. While I do factor in times, margins and experts ratings, I also factor in the merit of the victory as not all wins are created equal but I typically prefer ratings, times and the eye test over merit. These also had to occur on Australian shores (but special mentions will be paid at the end).

10. State Of Rest - 2021 G1 The Cox Plate 2040m WFA

At number 10 we have the international raider in State of Rest, who won the Cox Plate under somewhat dubious circumstances but it was still a very strong run. He managed to beat Verry Elleegant by 1.5L and Mo'Unga by 4L, all very solid horses. The form has well and truly held up overseas as well and at this stage, it seems likely that he will return to defend his crown, and it seems as if he is going better than ever.

9. Nature Strip - 2021 The Everest 1200m WFA

If we were looking at performances purely on dominance, this would not make the top 10 but what impressed the most was that this race was typically how he normally lost. He had to work very hard to get his lead his lead, not getting that moderate build he loves but he still managed to find a way to hold one. Now if Masked Crusader had a tad more luck or Classique Legend did not pull up with a suspensory issue, either would have beaten him but it was the merit of this win that makes it so impressive and the race that crowned him a champion.

8. Incentivise - 2021 G1 Turnbull Stakes 2000m SW+P

Fresh off his win in the Makybe Diva stakes off a slow tempo, people still had doubts he could do it against the best. He then went out and spanked Verry Elleegant. Like Nature Strip’s Everest performance, it was not so much the margin of victory, but the way he did it. There was once again serious merit to this victory carrying a fair bit of weight and they went quick which was the opposite to the Makybe Diva Stakes win and a sign of things to come in the Caulfield Cup.

7. Montefilia - 2022 G1 Ranvet Stakes 2000m WFA

This run was probably not the most notable or visual impressive group 1 win over 2000 metres that day with many talking about Anamoe’s Rosehill Guineas domination instead however, this race was 1.5 seconds quicker, with Montefilia still beating Verry Elleegant by 2L. Third was 7.7 lengths off Montefilia as well, just showing how dominant she was on this particular day.

6. Duais - 2022 G1 Australia Cup 2000m WFA

With this win, she announced herself as one of our top WFA horses beating Think It Over and Spanish Mission comfortably with both having no excuses in the run. In the process, she reeled off a 33.7 last 600 metres demonstrating her electric turn of foot. This was also one of the strongest Australian Cup since the All-Star Mile was introduced, further adding to her win.

5. Duais - 2022 G1 Tancred Stakes 2400m WFA

Fresh off her Australian Cup win, Duais proved her Australia Cup run was not a flash in the pan, putting on a demolition job at Newcastle. This win was more visually impressive than her Aus Cup win, but Think It Over is not as strong at further trips and on wet ground. Stockman and The Chosen One also went on to perform poorly in the Sydney Cup. Still a huge win nonetheless.

4. Nature Strip - 2022 G1 TJ Smith Stakes 1200m WFA

Once Eduardo handed him the lead early without putting pressure on him, you just knew he would run his race to suit and he did not disappoint accelerating away in the straight. This win was about as typical as it gets for Nature Strip and gave the owners the confidence to travel to Royal Ascot where he did not disappoint. Probably the softest of his TJ wins however (why did Nash give the lead up when Eduardo's wins have typically came when he has eyeballed him?)

3. Nature Strip - 2021 G1 VRC Sprint Classic 1200m WFA

There is not much to write home to here. About as standard as any Nature Strip performance as it gets. Got that soft lead and built into the race strongly as usual. The 3.2 length margin is flattering as if JMac was not so easy on him, it could have been 5 lengths or so. However, in my opinion, the top two performances separate themselves from the rest, even from Nature Strip himself.

2. Verry Elleegant - 2021 G1 Melbourne Cup 3200m Hcp

At number 2 we have Verry Elleegant in the Melbourne Cup. For some, she may have been a shoe in for number 1 and it is easy to see why. He beat Incentivise, the boom horse of 2021 racing and Spanish Mission by 4 lengths. 5th place also finished 10 lengths off her which just shows how dominant she was running the 5th fastest time in history, all while being the top weight when factoring the 1.5kg mare’s allowance. However, what is holding her back is that the race has been somewhat of a graveyard. 2nd placed Incentivise had a harder run with the whole race out to get him sitting wide on a fast speed and pulled up with an issue causing him to miss the entire autumn. Grand Promenade covered the most ground sitting 3 wide no cover and, in the process, giving her the perfect cart into the race. Previous winner Twilight Payment had a slow start and lost a fore plat and Tralee Rose pulled up with lacerations. Now let’s get this straight, nothing was beating her that day.

1. Incentivise - 2021 G1 Caulfield Cup 2400m Hcp

Coming in at number 1 we have Incentivise’s demolition job in the Caulfield Cup. While Verry Elleegant’s win may have been more impressive, this win had more merit. He was wide the whole trip, covering the most ground and hit the first bend 5 or so wide. It did not even phase him one bit as he romped away by 3.5 lengths which could have been more. Second place lost by a nose to Probabeel and beating Zaaki the week prior and 4th place won the Metrop who won as top weight when normalised to WFA and he beat them both very comfortably. However, an argument to switch the two is very easy to make and I would not fault you for putting Verry Elleegant above but Incentivise’s win simply had more merit.

I would like to highlight the following horses below:

Anamoe in the G1 Cox Plate. His run was clearly impeded and should have been deemed the winner however, his run in this race was simply awesome. Would be in the top 10 or close to it if we factored in losing performances.

Incentivise in the G1 Melbourne Cup. He had the second toughest run in the Melbourne Cup with a gap to third with the whole race out to make him lose. That race proved to be such a gut-buster, resulting in his injury that is keeping him out of the spring and he still managed to come second with all that against him. A top 5 performance in my eyes.

Nature Strip in the G1 Lightning Stakes. He had no luck here, none at all. Missing the start and then being sandwiched, followed by Profiteer then crossing him again giving up 3 lengths and momentum in the process. This was arguably his best career run as well (2nd to me behind his 2nd TJ) and would be third on this list.

Fireburn in the G1 Golden Slipper Stakes. Not only was this the best 2yo performance of the year, but it came from the best 2yo since Pierro IMO and it could have been even better. She received a bad check about 400 metres in, forcing her to become unsettled and drop out to last but Brenton found gap after gap and she did the rest. 2 year olds are hard to compare to older horses but this win looked visually impressive and had a stack of merit but I elected to slide her down for State of Rest would be 11th though.

Nature Strip in the G1 Kings Stand Stakes was Nature Strips best winning performance this season when factoring in merit. While I believe the field he beat was poor, no other way to put it, to stick it up to the English and the US on the other side of the world was one of my greatest feelings in the time I have watched racing. This would rank third.

There you have the top 10 performances of the Australian season. What I find very interesting is that you will not see the Cox Plate rank so low against the Cups very often but it seems that is the general consensus this season. Below, I have a quick top 10 across various distances to give a wider picture.

Top 10 Sprinting Performances (1000-1350m) 10. Nature Strip (G3 Concorde Stakes) 9. Home Affairs (G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes) 8. Marabi (G1 Oakleigh Plate) 7. Home Affairs (G1 Lightning Stakes) 6. Eduardo (The Classique Legend Stakes) 5. Eduardo (G2 The Shorts) 4. Marabi (G2 Australia Stakes) 3. Nature Strip (The Everest) 2. Nature Strip (G1 TJ Smith Stakes) 1. Nature Strip (G1 VRC Sprint Classic)

Top 10 Middle Distance Performances (1351-2040m) 10. Anamoe (G1 Caulfield Guineas)

9. Anamoe (G1 Rosehill Guineas) 8. Incentivise (G1 Makybe Diva Stakes)

7. Alligator Blood (G1 Stradbroke Hcp) 6. Think It Over (G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes) 5. Zaaki (The All-Star Mile) 4. State of Rest (G1 The Cox Plate) 3. Incentivise (G1 Turnbull Stakes) 2. Montefilia (G1 Ranvet Stakes) 1. Duais (G1 Australia Cup)

Top 5 Staying Performances (2041-3200m) 5. Knights Order (G1 Sydney Cup) 4. Montefilia (G1 The Metropolitan) 3. Duais (G1 Tancred Stakes) 2. Verry Elleegant (G1 Melbourne Cup) 1. Incentivise (G1 Caulfield Cup)

Top 5 2-year-old performances 5. Fireburn (G2 Sweet Embrace Stakes) 4. Coolangatta (G3 Gimcrack Stakes) 3. She’s Extreme (G1 Champagne Stakes) 2. Fireburn (G1 ATC Sires Produce) 1. Fireburn (G1 Golden Slipper Stakes)

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