Wondermare Winx up there with Caviar
Tony McFadden picks out the main points of interest
Winx a match for Black Caviar
Wondermare Winx has racked up 13 wins on the bounce and has not tasted defeat since April 2015, but her rating of 132, which places her on a par with the legendary Black Caviar, has still raised some eyebrows.
Black Caviar became a national hero thanks to a stunning 25-race unbeaten career, comprising some astonishing, dominant victories, and some will disagree with the assertion that Winx has displayed form of equal measure.
However, there can be little doubt that Winx's wide-margin demolition of Group 1 winners Hartnell and Vadamos around the tight turns of Moonee Valley was an exhilarating sight, and the sort of performance that only a top-class horse could produce.
Could a case even be made to suggest that Winx is actually the most formidable opponent on the planet? She may be rated 2lb inferior to Arrogate but would receive more than that in a sex allowance should the two ever meet (which appears very unlikely).
Arrogate needs to be on his A-game to topple Chrome
Arrogate (134) looked like an excellent prospect when winning the prestigious Travers Stakes by over 13 lengths and confirmed himself as a top-class racehorse when overhauling California Chrome (133) in a titanic tussle down the home straight in the Breeders' Cup Classic.
The pair meet again in the inaugural running of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Saturday and it is likely that Arrogate will have to be at his best if he is to confirm the form, such is the consistency that California Chrome has displayed.
California Chrome was responsible for three of the top four performances in 2016 – courtesy of his Breeders' Cup second and wins in the Pacific Classic and Awesome Again Stakes – and he can be relied upon to produce another top-notch effort. Can Arrogate do likewise on the back of an interrupted preparation?
Japanese Arc hopes
The Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe has remained agonisingly out of reach of the Japanese, but those hoping the hoodoo will be broken in 2017 can take some encouragement from the performances last year's three-year-olds produced on home soil.
Based on the average ratings of the first four home the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby), they were the strongest three-year-old races in the world, suggesting there was good strength in depth to the Classic crop.
Satono Diamond (122) was narrowly beaten in the Japanese Derby but roared back with wins in the Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) and Arima Kinen, and he could lead a strong challenge.
British horses fail to come up to scratch
Almanzor was an above-average European flagbearer during 2016, earning a rating of 129 through his victory in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes, which he followed up in fine style at Ascot in the Qipco Champion Stakes.
That should not be construed as a slight against Postponed – he was top of the pile, after all – but does reflect the poor quality of the three-year-olds and older horses racing in Britain last season.
Smith offers hope for British two-year-old crop
It was a good year for Irish-trained two-year-olds, who are represented by 17 of the 47 horses rated 110 or more, and a good year too for fillies, both numerically and in terms of quality, with an outstanding representative in Lady Aurelia and six achieving figures of 114 and more.
However, the handicapping team reckoned it was a weak year for British juveniles. The saving grace, in the opinion of the BHA's Graeme Smith, is that there is a very feasible explanation, and one which gives plenty of hope for 2017.
Smith said: "There were only four British Group 1 winners, and only 19 rated 110 or more, when we might usually expect around 25, but I think that can be explained by the health issues suffered by a lot of the big stables here.
"There was a lot of talk about issues of well being, and horses who might otherwise have run more often (and therefore had more opportunity to show their true worth) ran just three times, twice, or even only once.
"There are a lot of unexposed horses out there with major untapped potential."