Which were the top three older horses in 2021?
Remarkably, according to Timeform, the leaders in the older horse division in 2021 – Mishriff (131), Subjectivist (130) and Torquator Tasso (130) – were separated by just 1lb. All three horses are likely to return to training, as five-year-olds, in 2022, although Subjectivist did suffer a potentially career-threatening leg injury when winning the Gold Cup at Ascot in June.
Owned by Prince Faisal bin Salman and trained by John and Thady Gosden, Mishriff made the perfect start to 2021 by winning the most valuable race in the world, the Saudi Cup at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in February. He followed up in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in March, but did not race again until early July. Only third, beaten 3¾ lengths, behind St. Mark’s Basilica in the Coral-Eclipse, he subsequently failed by 1¾ lengths to concede 10lb weight-for-age to Derby winner Adayar in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. However, Mishriff returned to his best form with an impressive, 6-length defeat of Alenquer in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York in August.
The aforementioned injury limited Subjectivist to just two runs in 2021, but that didn’t stop Mark Johnston’s colt from creating a highly favourable impression. The son of Teofilo was already a Group 1 winner, having made all to win the Prix-Royal Oak, over 1 mile 7½ furlongs, at Longchamp on his final start as a three-year-old. However, he improved again for the step up to two miles and beyond, readily winning the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan in March and following up, impressively, in the Gold Cup at Ascot. Johnston has said that he will ‘make an attempt to bring him back’ to defend his title in 2022.
Trained in Germany by Marcus Weiss, Torquator Tasso made an inauspicious start to the campaign when only sixth of seven in the Grosser Preis der RP Gruppe at Mulheim on his reappearance in June. However, after teaming up with jockey Rene Piechulek, he won three of his four remaining starts, including the Grosser Preis von Baden at Baden-Baden in September and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October. Weiss admitted, before the latter race, that it ‘would be a fairy-tale’ if Torquator Tasso won, but win he did, defying odds of 72/1!