Excellent middle-distance performer Poet's Word and top stayer Stradivarius have firmly entered calculations for 2018 Cartier Horse Of The Year honours at this year's Cartier Racing Awards following impressive victories at two of Europe's premier Flat racing meetings.
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.
Five-year-old Poet's Word (116) currently heads the standings for both the Cartier Horse Of the Year and Cartier Older Horse categories following a pulsating victory over stable companion Crystal Ocean (56), the pair clear, in the 12-furlong G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Sponsored By QIPCO), the mid-summer European highlight at Ascot on July 28.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained pair dominated the thrilling finish to the 12-furlong showpiece, with Poet's Word wearing down Crystal Ocean inside the final furlong to prevail by a neck.
Poet's Word, owned by Saeed Suhail, is now unbeaten in three European appearances this season, having also captured the G1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, in which he beat Cracksman (88), last year's Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt, and the G3 Matchbook Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown Park in May.
The Qatar Goodwood Festival produced five days of terrific racing on the South Downs between July 31 and August 4, headed by three G1 races.
Stradivarius (96), trained by John Gosden and owned by Bjorn Nielsen, won the G1 Qatar Goodwood Cup for a second successive year to extend his commanding lead in the Cartier Stayer category.
The four-year-old colt stayed on gamely to beat Torcedor (36) by half a length and will collect the inaugural WH Stayers' Million bonus if successful the G2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York on August 24.
Cartier Older Horse contender Lightning Spear (76), representing Qatar Racing, gained a deserved first G1 success on his 16th top-level appearance in the Qatar Sussex Stakes, with the David Simcock-trained seven-year-old quickening strongly between horses for a decisive victory over Expert Eye (36).
The meeting's third G1 contest saw Godolphin filly Wild Illusion (64) continue a fine year for trainer Charlie Appleby as she made all of the running for an impressive win in the Qatar Nassau Stakes, entering the reckoning for Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly honours in the process.
G1 King's Stand Stakes runner-up Battaash (48), trained by Charlie Hills for Hamdan Al Maktoum, returned to his best with a blistering display of power and speed in the meeting's big sprint, the G2 King George Qatar Stakes over five furlongs.
The top-rated horse over five furlongs in the world last year, Battaash is joint-top of the Cartier Sprinter standings with the now-retired Merchant Navy and looks set for a mouth-watering showdown with his Royal Ascot conqueror, Godolphin's Blue Point (38), in the G1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (August 24) over five furlongs at York's Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
York's premier meeting is set to feature more Cartier Racing Awards hopefuls, with Poet's Word set for a fascinating clash leading three-year-old colts Saxon Warrior (80) and Roaring Lion (78) in the 10-furlong G1 Juddmonte International (August 22), while three-year-old fillies Laurens (88), Forever Together (80) and Sea Of Class (32) could meet in the G1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks (August 23) over 12 furlongs.
More immediately, the hugely impressive Alpha Centauri (96), who leads in the race to be crowned Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly and is joint-second in the Cartier Horse Of The Year standings, takes on the colts for the first time in the G1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois at Deauville, France, on August 12, making it a race to really look forward to.