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The Coral Horse Rich List 2017

| 19.05.2017

Winning a race like the Grand National may earn a horse lavish amounts of respect, but it doesn’t always mean that they top the list of the highest earners.

You don’t have to win the world’s most prestigious races to make a buck or two. When a horse rides past the finishing post in countries like Dubai, Australia and Japan, they’re guaranteed to become saddled with enough prize money to see most people happily through to retirement.

Don’t believe us? The world’s most lucrative race – the Pegasus World Cup – had a $12 million purse for 2017 (approximately £9.2 million), while the Dubai World Cup 2017 offered a total purse of $6 million (approximately £4.6 million). In comparison, this year’s Grand National had a purse of £1 million. Although Royal Ascot 2016 offered a record £6.58 million in prize money, it was spread out over the whole week and across 30 races.

With that in mind, we decided to look at the 25 highest-earning thoroughbreds of all time in the Coral Horse Rich List 2017. Who’s amongst the biggest earners, but has only been racing for just over a year? Who’s sitting comfortably in the list while simultaneously retiring comfortably in a paddock? And who’s recently hurtled out of the gates to become the Bill Gates in terms of the horse rich list rankings?

The Coral Horse Rich List 2017    

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Here’s how we’ve ranked the world’s highest earning thoroughbreds:

– Thoroughbreds had to have raced in a different country from the one they were born in

– Many high-earning Japanese thoroughbreds have been excluded due to them only ever winning major races in their native country (such as T M Opera O)

– Total prize money has been converted into pounds sterling from the prize money’s original currency

– The prize money has been converted based on latest exchange rates at time of publishing

– The total winnings are over a horse’s racing career and do not include stud fares during retirement

Out of the richest 25 thoroughbreds, we’ve taken a closer look at the most notable entries – from the newcomers to the retired legends of the horse racing world.

Top 4 Notable Entries


Would you believe that the horse to top the Coral Horse Rich List only stepped onto a racecourse for the first time on 17th April 2016 and has just eight starts and four stake race wins to his name? Yes, Arrogate seems to have sneaked up on the inside to overtake the legends of the horse racing world and become the all-time leading money earner (winning over $17 million US).

While the large purses for his winning four stakes mean he’s top of the leader board, no one can deny that this horse is also one of the greats in terms of speed, skill and stamina. He also has track records to his name – he won the 2016 Travers Stakes in a track record (his very first stakes appearance) and won the 2017 Pegasus World Cup in a new track record, cantering to an effortless four-and-three-quarter-length success.

He will also forever be known for his brilliant performance in the 2017 Dubai World Cup in March, where he broke last to then swoop up on the outside and run past some of the best horses in the world, catching the leader and winning by a comfortable two-and-a-quarter-length success. This is a horse who’s quite simply in a league of his own.

Makybe Diva

Number #3 on our list, Makybe Diva was born in the UK but trained in Australia. She won the Melbourne Cup on three separate occasions (2003, 2004 and 2005) – the first horse to do so in the race’s 150+ year history. Out of only five horses to have ever won the Melbourne Cup more than once, Makybe Diva is also the only mare – and one of only 14 mares to win the Cup in its entire history.

She’s still the highest stakes-earner in Australian horse racing history, retiring in 2005 with more than A$14 million in prize money to her name. Her final victory in the Melbourne Cup in 2005 saw her win an incredible $5 million US alone. If you ever head to Port Lincoln in South Australia, you can find a statue in her honour.



Sixth on our list of the highest earning horses is Cigar, who retired back in 1996 as the leading money earner in thoroughbred racing history (surpassed by Curlin in 2008). Contrary to popular belief, he was named after a navigational intersection for airplanes rather than after the tobacco product.

He’s also known for his incredible performance on the track that saw him win 16 consecutive races against top-class competition in 1995 and 1996 – the first American racehorse to do so since Citation in 1948 and 1950.

The 14th win in his 16-win streak was the Dubai World Cup, which saw him take home a $4 million US purse and become the world’s highest stakes-winning racehorse. His 16th win was the Arlington Citation Challenge at Arlington Park.

He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2002 and, like Makybe Diva, also has a statue in his honour. The life-size bronze statue stands in Florida’s Gulfstream Park.


Sunline was the world’s highest earning racemare of her time. She is often compared to Makybe Diva due to their close winning percentages. From her 25 starts in Group One races, Sunline logged 13 wins (a winning strike-rate of 52%), while Makybe Diva won seven of her 14 starts in Group One races (a winning strike-rate of 50%).

Sunline won races in three different countries – her native New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong. Her outstanding performance saw her twice-win the toughest mile race in Australia, the Doncaster Handicap. She is also the only horse to ever win the Australian Horse of the Year championship three times, and today, she sits in a comfortable thirteenth position in our horse rich list.

Missed seeing today’s racehorses live in action? You can easily catch up with the full racing results for all horse races here at Coral.



Daniel McKeown