Since 1991, Cartier has sponsored the European Horse Racing Awards. On the 8th of November at London’s Dorchester Hotel, the 2016 awards ceremony took place. In front of a select gathering of 300 people, Coolmore continued their year of domination, while the champagne corks are still popping, myracing.com guides you through the list of winners.
Two awards this year for Ballydoyle’s duel Classic winning filly. Having won the Two Year Old Filly award in 2015, she becomes just the 7th horse to claim three of these prestigious prizes. Her 2016 began as her 2015 ended, with a Newmarket demolition job. Her 1000 Guineas win was breathtaking, sent off 11/10 favourite, she tanked along in the hands of Ryan Moore and could be called the winner a long way from home. The Irish 1000 could not have been more different. Hitting her head on the stalls, hating the soft going, she showed her tenacious side to go under to Jet Setting by just a head. Odds on victories in the Oaks, Pretty Polly and Nassau followed through the summer before a QEII win at Ascot rounded out her campaign. Seven races, five Group 1 wins, a thoroughly deserving winner and a return coming in 2017!
As hardy and tough a filly as anyone could have the pleasure to own. Ten times she graced the track in 2016, eight of those at the top table with a pair of wins, including the Arc at Chantilly last month. An Arc, a Champion Stakes and a Breeders Cup Turf in a span of less than 40 days after starting her season on the 3rd of April is testament to her durability. She retires having finished outside the first three just once in a twenty one race career when 9th in a rough 2015 Arc. A deserving end to a glittering career, we wait to see if she passes on that toughness to her offspring.
An Ascot Gold Cup win the highlight of the season for another super son of Galileo. Arguably his most impressive run however came at Chantilly in October when third behind stablemates Found and Highland Reel in the Arc. The middle distance division is traditionally deeper than the stayers so to step back a full mile in trip from his Group 1 win is nothing short of a remarkable feat from both horse and connections.
At the end of April, ask a racing fan who Almanzor is, one could be forgiven for not being able to place the name. With just a Listed race win to his credit at that point, it wasn’t until the warming of the days that Jean-Claude Rouget’s colt came to life. He made every yard of the running in Chantilly’s Group 3 Prix De Guiche before springing a 20/1 shock in the French Derby. Even then he was sent off a 7/1 shot in the Irish Champion Stakes, quickening up smartly to beat arguably the top field assembled in Europe this season. Punters took note and in his final appearance of the year he improved again to run out a cosy winner of the Champion Stakes at Ascot. Connections fully vindicated to avoid the Arc this season with his Autumn campaign but 2017 will be geared towards Europe’s richest race.
In a year dominated but the Ballydoyle juggernaut, a win for Karl Burke, Ontoawinner and their sprint Queen is refreshing. Human nature finds ourselves rooting for the underdog and this £44,000 purchase, syndicate owned filly for a stalwart of the Northern scene fit the bill. A smart juvenile campaign rounded out with a victory in the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket barely scratched the surface of her ability. She announced herself on the sprinting scene beating a Group 2 field out of sight in the Sandy Lane at Haydock before tasting Group 1 glory at Royal Ascot when digging deep to land the Commonwealth Cup. A return to Haydock saw her double that Group 1 tally in the Sprint Cup, we look forward to seeing her return next season.
Despite a rather inauspicious start to the campaign when a beaten favourite in a Curragh maiden, the ante post favourite for next years 2000 Guineas ripped through the rest of 2016, unbeaten in his final five starts. He was steadily built up through the campaign, winning the Listed Chesham at Royal Ascot before a Group 3 at Leopardstown and a Group 2 at the Curragh. It was back at the Curragh in September, in taking the National Stakes by more than 4 lengths, that he truly stamped his mark on the season. A Dewhurst win at Newmarket put the exclamation point on the campaign and given his style of keeping a little for himself, who knows how good he could be in 2017.
The Moon landing, JFK’s shooting, Lady Aurelia winning the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot. Ask where people were when these things happened and they can tell you to the millimetre! One of the most incredible performances seen by a juvenile for many years, nearly going as quick as Acapulco the year before despite racing on much softer ground, it was a monumental effort. That may have taken more out of her than first appeared as she scrambled home in the Morny before a third in the Cheveley Park. She was found to have broken a blood vessel after the latter but that shouldn’t take away from June’s breathtaking victory.
What more can be said of the master of Ballydoyle that has not already been written before? Mentored by Jim Bolger who paid tribute to his ex pupil “He’s a quick learner, very intelligent, a popular young man. His industry and dedication are tremendous. I’d have done anything short of marrying him to keep him working for me.” A nineteen time Champion trainer on the flat in Ireland, five times on the jumps as well as five more on the flat in Britain, his resume is extensive. More than 250 Group 1 wins worldwide including 59 Classics in Britain and Ireland alone, he is a phenomenon. A devoted family man, he is the perfect candidate for the merit award, joining the long list of racing royalty to be honoured as such.