Thrilling performances from Alpha Centauri and Roaring Lion have helped strengthen the claims of this year's Classic crop in the race for top honours in this year's Cartier Racing Awards.
The 28th Cartier Racing Awards will be presented at a glittering ceremony before an invited audience of 300 at the Dorchester Hotel, London, England, on the evening of Tuesday, November 13, 2018.
The longstanding and 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.
European horseracing's top awards are delivered through a tried and tested combination of points earned by horses in Pattern races (30%), combined at the end of season with the opinions of a panel of racing journalists/handicappers (35%) and votes from readers of Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph plus ITV Racing viewers (35%).
The participation of the public plays a crucial role in determining the winners of each year's Cartier Racing Awards and gives horseracing fans the chance to put forward their favourite horses in a meaningful way.
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.
The outstanding Alpha Centauri (96) has taken the lead for both the Cartier Horse Of The Year and Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly on Pattern race points following a stunning all-the-way victory by four and a half lengths in the G1 Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes on day two of Newmarket's Moët & Chandon July Festival on July 13.
It was a third consecutive G1 success over a mile for the Niarchos Family-owned filly, who is trained by Jessica Harrington in Ireland, and the talented daughter of Mastercraftsman now looks set to take on colts and older horses for the first time in the G1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois at Deauville, France, on August 12.
A strong crop of three-year-old fillies this season also includes Laurens (88), owned by John Dance and trained by Karl Burke, who herself has gained a pair of G1 victories in the Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary and the Prix de Diane Longines.
The traditional first major G1 clash of the generations, the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park on July 7, saw the Classic crop come out on top as three-year-old colts Roaring Lion (78), trained by John Gosden for Qatar Racing, and Saxon Warrior (80) fought out a tremendous finish to the 10-furlong contest, with a neck separating them at the line.
This year's Coral-Eclipse lost some of its sparkle with the late defection of Investec Derby hero Masar (68), who had Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior in third and fourth respectively when taking the Epsom Downs Classic on June 2.
The Godolphin colt will be side-lined for the rest of the 2018 Flat season with a soft-tissue injury, but hopes are high that he will return to action for trainer Charlie Appleby next season. He could still receive the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt Award through panel opinions and public votes at the end of the season.
Last year's Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt winner U S Navy Flag (32) returned to form in tremendous fashion after being dropped back in trip with an all-the-way success over Brando (32) in the six-furlong G1 Darley July Cup on the third and final day of Newmarket's Moët & Chandon July Festival on July 14.
The three-year-old War Front colt, trained by Aidan O'Brien for a Coolmore partnership like Saxon Warrior, looks set to be kept to sprint distances, with the world's richest turf race, the Everest at Royal Randwick, Australia, on October 13 as a potential target.
O'Brien and Coolmore are also responsible for the current leader in the Cartier Sprinter category, G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes victor Merchant Navy (48), who himself is heading out to Australia to take up stud duties. The Cartier Sprint Award is looking very open at the moment.
Cracksman (88) continues to head the Cartier Older Horse standings. The Gosden-trained four-year-old looks set to bypass the G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO) at Ascot on July 28, a race which could feature his nearest pursuers Poet's Word (68) and Waldgeist (56).
G1 Gold Cup hero Stradivarius (64) continues to hold the advantage in the race to be Cartier Stayer. The four-year-old colt, owned and bred by Bjorn Nielsen and trained by John Gosden, will take another step towards the WH Stayers' Million bonus by trying to win the Qatar Goodwood Cup, one of three G1 races at the Qatar Goodwood Festival which runs from July 31 to August 4.