November 18, 2009

Extolling European Excellence

Last night at the Claridge Hotel in London, England, the highest honors in European Racing were presented. The 19th annual Cartier Racing Awards celebrated seven outstanding horses in eight divisions and one person for their accomplishments in one of the finest years for European Thoroughbreds in recent memory. Here are the worthy recipients:

Horse Of The Year & Three-Year-Old Colt - Sea The Stars
In 2009 Sea the Stars completed one of the greatest seasons of racing ever witnessed by racefans. The three-year-old son of top sire Cape Cross and champion mare Urban Sea was undefeated in six starts, but that only tells a small part of his story. His six performances were all in Group 1 races and each of the races are among the most prestigious and important races on the continent. Making this season of perfection even more impressive was the way he won each race. Never fully extended, every time Sea The Stars hit the wire, fans were left to wonder just how much more this horse had in his enormous tank.

Older Horse - Goldikova
A four-year-old bay filly by Anabaa out of Born Gold, Goldikova proved her greatness on both sides of the Atlantic again in 2009. Proving to be the most outstanding miler in the world, she had overpowering victories in England, France, and America. Her second straight victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile placed her in very select company. Goldikova raised her record to 10 wins and 2 seconds in 12 starts at the one mile distance, including eight in a row, with her four wins at the distance this year. If she stays in training in 2010, Goldikova will try to stamp herself as the greatest miler in modern racing.

Three-Year-Old Filly - Sariska
Completing the English Oaks and Irish Oaks double is a special accomplishment and it was enough for Sariska, a three-year-old bay filly by Pivotal out of Maycocks Bay, to claim top honors in Europe this year. The Oaks double completed a three racing winning streak and propelled her to stardom. While Sariska finished her 3 for 6 season with two losses, they did little to diminish her stature. First running a game 2nd to the top older mare, Dar Re Mi, in the Yorkshire Oaks and then giving the older males a run for their money with a highly competitive 3rd in the Champion Stakes where she finished ahead of the Irish Derby winner Fame and Glory.

Two-Year-Old Colt - St Nicholas Abbey
The champion juvenile colt in Europe this year also looks to be the most promising for the classics of 2010. In only three races, St Nicholas Abbey, a two-year-old bay colt by Montjeu out of Leaping Water, went from Maiden winner to champion. His win in the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes in Ireland and then a most impressive win in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy in England, was easily enough to annex the Cartier Award and also make him a clear Winter favorite for next year’s Epsom Derby. Bred for distance, the Irish bred runner is expected to relish the longer going of next year’s key races.

Two-Year-Old Filly - Special Duty
Special Duty, a two-year-old chestnut filly by Hennessy out of Quest to Peak, won England’s Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes in impressive fashion capping a consistent season that saw her run first or second in each of her four races. The win at Newmarket directly proceeded a narrow defeat in her home nation of France in the Group 1 Prix Morny against the boys. Before that she had defeated the highly regarded Siyouni in the Group 2 Prix Robert Papin. Off these impressive results, the Criquette Head-Maarek trained filly has been installed as the early favorite for next Spring’s 1000 Guineas.

Stayer - Yeats
An eight-year-old bay colt by Sadler’s Wells out of Lyndonville, Yeats has proven that he is as exceptional as a stayer in his career longevity as he is in his staying power in Europe longest races. His convincing win in the continent’s most important distance race, Ascot’s 2 ½ mile Gold Cup, was incredibly his fourth consecutive in the prestigious race. Yeats became the first horse in history to win the Gold Cup a fourth time in the long and storied history of the race. Once a favorite for the Epsom Derby before meeting a setback just days before the race, Yeats has endured in his remarkable career.

Sprinter - Fleeting Spirit
A four-year-old bay filly by Invincible Spirit out of Millennium Tale, Fleeting Spirit only won once in her five starts this year, but her smashing triumph in the Group 1 July Cup was enough to carry the day. The July Cup win was considered the best European sprint race run in 2009. She also finished a competitive 2nd in her other three races in Europe, all of which were important Group 1 sprints. She finished the year with an out of the money performance in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, but her consistent form in the top sprints in Europe made her a champion.

Award of Merit - John Oxx
A special 18-member Cartier Jury awarded, Sea The Stars' trainer, John Oxx, the Cartier Award of Merit 2009 for his lifetime of training achievements and for doing more than any other horseperson for the good of European racing this year. Highly respected throughout the sport, Oxx enjoyed his greatest season to date in this his 30th year of training. Oxx, an Irishman, is very involved in many facets in the well being of racing in Ireland. Before Sea The Stars, Oxx trained many top horses in Europe, including the 2000 Arc winner and champion Sinndar and the 1995 Breeders‘ Cup Mile winner and champion filly, Ridgewood Pearl.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us fans in the States about the best of the rest of the world.


LDP said...

Well at least Europe knows how to pick champions, there picks were pretty much right on. STS deserved his award, so did other like Yeats and Goldikova. Thanks for the recap Brian.

Anonymous said...

Goldikova more than made up for Sea The Star's abscence at the BC. She's a clear winner for her category- lucky for her, missing all of our American drama. Her little two year old brother Ocean Seven, by Green Tune, just won a race too.

Sea The Star's should have a good shot in the Aga Khan's superb breeding program. STS's two year old 'nephew' Burj Nahar - Sharmadal x STS's 1/2 sister Melikah- just won his debut by 3 1/2 lengths. STS's 'cousin' two year old Tertiary - Singspiel x Urban Sea's 1/2 sister Allez Les Trois- also won, or came very close to, recently as well. It has been suggested that Zenyatta visit him while she is free of a foal at her side. I approve, she can make it o her way back from running in the Dubai World Cup [dreaming of course]

Conduit was a real trooper this year, nice to see him with a big win to launch his stud career in Japan.

Europe is a whole other world of racing to enjoy. But when they visit us, I root for the home team.