Masar and Cracksman, successful in two of the Group 1 highlights at the Investec Derby Festival at Epsom last weekend, head the early standings in the race to be crowned Cartier Horse Of The Year.
The 28th Cartier Racing Awards will be presented at a glittering ceremony before an invited audience of 300 at the Dorchester Hotel, London, on Tuesday, 13th November.
The prestigious awards were established in 1991 to reward excellence in horseracing. There are eight equine awards, ranging from the Cartier Horse Of The Year to the Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt and Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly.
In addition to the equine awards, the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit goes to the person or persons who, in the opinion of the special 15-strong Cartier Jury, has/have done the most for European racing and/or breeding either over their lifetime or within the past 12 months.
The 10 latest recipients have been Sir Michael Stoute, Aidan O’Brien, Jack Berry, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Jim Bolger, Team Frankel, Barry Hills, Richard Hannon, John Oxx and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Masar (68 points) stormed to a decisive victory in Britain’s premier Classic and richest race, the £1.5-million Group 1 Investec Derby over a mile and a half at Epsom Downs last Saturday.
It was a performance that saw the Godolphin colt, trained by Charlie Appleby in Newmarket, leap to the top of both the Cartier Horse Of The Year and Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt categories.
The son of 2008 Investec Derby winner New Approach (the 2008 Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt Award Winner) was previously third in Newmarket’s Group 1 QIPCO 2000 Guineas over a mile on 5th May, but reversed the form with his Newmarket conqueror Saxon Warrior (48), trained by Aidan OBrien for a Coolmore partnership, who lost his unbeaten record at Epsom Downs when coming home fourth as the 4/5 favourite.
The last Cartier Horse Of The Year to win the Investec Derby was Golden Horn in 2015.
Study Of Man (48), owned by the Niarchos family’s Flaxman Stables, also enjoyed Classic glory over the weekend with a game half-length success in the Group 1 QIPCO Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) at Chantilly on 3rd June. The three-year-old son of Japanese superstar Deep Impact provided trainer Pascal Bary with his sixth victory in the French Classic since 1994.
Cracksman (64), Europe’s top-rated horse in training and recipient of the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt Award last year, maintained his unbeaten start to 2018 with a hard-fought head verdict in the Group 1 Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs on Friday last.
The four-year-old Frankel colt, trained by John Gosden for his owner/breeder Anthony Oppenheimer, made an impressive return to action when easily taking the Group 1 Prix Ganay at the re-developed Longchamp on 29th April.
Other early rivals in the Cartier Older Horse standings include Recoletos (48), successful in the Group 1 Churchill Coolmore Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp on 27th May, plus two Godolphin horses trained by Saeed bin Suroor who both enjoyed major victories on Dubai World Cup Night at Meydan..
Benbatl (48) stormed to a decisive success in the Group 1 Dubai Turf, while Thunder Snow (54) routed his opposition in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup under an inspired front-running ride from Christophe Soumillon.
Laurens (56), owned by John Dance and trained by Karl Burke, holds the lead in the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly category. The daughter of Siyouni finished second to Richard Hannon-trained Billesdon Brook (48) in the Group 1 QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on 6th May before annexing the Group 1 The Gurkha Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary at Longchamp on 27th May.
Group 1 Investec Oaks heroine Forever Together (48), Group 1 Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas scorer Alpha Centauri (32) and Teppal (32), successful in the Group 1 Emirates Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, also feature highly in the same division.
The two most recent Cartier Horse Of The Year have been three-year-old fillies – Enable in 2017 and Minding in 2016.
Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint winner Jungle Cat (24), representing Masar’s owner/trainer combination of Godolphin and Charlie Appleby, is joint-top in the Cartier Sprinter standings alongside the Cool Silk Partnership’s Sands Of Mali (24), successful for trainer Richard Fahey in the Group 2 Armstrong Aggregates Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock Park on 26th May.
Both horses look set to face stiff challenges over the coming months, with last year’s Cartier Sprinter Harry Angel (16) and Battaash (16), the world’s highest-rated horse over five furlongs in 2017, both having made winning starts to their respective 2018 campaigns.
Vazirabad (31), owned by the Aga Khan and trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre, holds a significant advantage in the race to be crowned Cartier Stayer following Group 2 victories at Meydan and Longchamp, ahead of Group 2 Mansionbet Yorkshire Cup victor Stradivarius (16).
The duo are set to clash in the Group 1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, a race that is also set to feature Aidan O’Brien’s Order Of St George (8), the Cartier Stayer Award winner in both 2016 and 2017.