Who is the best event horse in the world? Data experts build a ranking to find out…

  • Who is the best event horse in the world today? It’s a great subject for a bit of pub banter with your friends – in non-Covid times, of course – and at events such as the leading five-stars, the World Championships or the Olympics, we find out who is the best event horse on that particular day. But does that really tell us who’s the best in an overall, long-term way?

    Now the equestrian data analytics company EquiRatings has devised a way of ranking event horses which could give us the answer to the question.

    The system is called Elo, named after Hungarian physics professor Arpad Elo. The Elo rating system originates from chess and variations are now used across many sports.

    “Our leading data guru at EquiRatings, Sean Murray, has taken the Elo rating system and re-designed it for our sport,” explains EquiRatings co-founder Diarmuid Byrne in an article on the company’s website. “As we have found over the past few years, eventing is pretty complex to code for. Were judges scoring easy or tough? Was the course difficult or not? Was the time tight and who was trying to make it? But rating the best competitors is actually pretty simple. It’s all about consistently beating high-quality opponents.”

    The full methodology behind the eventing ELO is complicated, but to summarise, horses enter the system with 1500 points. They then gain points by taking them from horses they beat and lose them by giving them to horses who beat them. The best event horse in the world always has the most points.

    “You don’t lose all your points in one go, but the changes occur gradually as you compete more,” explains Diarmuid.

    “Beating horses with high Elo ratings is going to bump up your rating most effectively. Losing to low-rated horses is going to be most costly. This addresses one of the big issues when rating the ‘best of the best’ – not all competitions are equal. Winning some four-star shorts might entail beating a handful of first-timers, while winning Aachen, the same level of competition on paper, is likely to mean that a horse has beaten five-star winners and world medallists. Elo solves this problem, rewarding the better quality results with higher points.”

    So, using the Elo, who are the best event horses in the world? EquiRatings have a page where you can check Elos and the current Elo rankings rate horses who have competed in the past two seasons. The top six horses are:

    1. SAP Hale Bob OLD (Ingrid Klimke, Germany) – 2093 points
    2. Samourai Du Thot (Julia Krajewski, Germany) – 2060 points
    3. FischerChipmunk FRH (Michael Jung, Germany) – 2039 points
    4. FischerRocana FST (Michael Jung, Germany) – 2028 points
    5. Ballaghmor Class (Oliver Townend, Great Britain) – 2001 points
    6. Allstar B (Ros Canter, Great Britain) – 1991 points

    EquiRatings also let you find the out “all-time” (2008 onwards) Elo rankings. The top six in that listing are:

    1. La Biosthetique-Sam FBW (Michael Jung, Germany) – 2173 points in 2017
    2. SAP Hale Bob OLD (Ingrid Klimke, Germany) – 2113 points in 2020
    3. Opgun Louvo (Sandra Auffarth, Germany) – 2108 points in 2017
    4. Nereo (Andrew Nicholson, New Zealand) – 2084 points in 2017
    5. Samourai Du Thot (Julia Krajewski, Germany) – 2060 points in 2020
    6. FischerChipmunk FRH (Michael Jung, Germany) – 2055 points in 2020

    The clever chaps at EquiRatings acknowledge that the rankings are skewed towards German horses – the rankings use international competitions only and German horses tend to run more in international competitions than those in countries such as Britain and the USA which have excellent circuits of national competitions, which do not count towards Elo ratings.

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