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Tuesday, November 14, 2006


The 2006 Cartier Racing Awards, European horseracing's equivalent of the Oscars, are announced at the Awards' dinner held at the Four Seasons Hotel, Mayfair, London, UK, tomorrow evening (Wednesday, November 15).

The eight horse categories, Horse Of The Year, Top Older Horse, Top Stayer, Top Sprinter, Three-Year-Old Colt, Three-Year-Old Filly, Two-Year-Old Colt and Two-Year-Old Filly, are revealed to an international audience of leading owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders and racing personalities.

The coveted eight Cartier horse awards are determined by points earned in Pattern races combined with the opinions of a panel of racing journalists plus votes from readers of the Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph, a system which accurately rewards supreme excellence. The panel of racing journalists consisted of Graham Dench (Racing Post), Marcus Armytage (Daily Telegraph), Julian Muscat (Times), Colin Mackenzie (Daily Mail) and Brough Scott (Racing Post, Sunday Telegraph).

The nominations for each category this year are as follows:

Horse of the Year - Alexandrova, George Washington, Ouija Board, Pride, Teofilo

Top Older Horse - Hurricane Run, Ouija Board, Pride, Reverence, Shirocco

Top Stayer - Kastoria, Montare, Sergeant Cecil, Shamdala, Yeats

Top Sprinter - Amadeus Wolf, Desert Lord, Iffraaj, Les Arcs, Reverence

Three-Year-Old Colt - Dylan Thomas, George Washington, Rail Link, Red Rocks, Sir Percy

Three-Year-Old Filly - Alexandrova, Confidential Lady, Mandesha, Nannina, Speciosa

Two-Year-Old Colt - Authorized, Dutch Art, Holy Roman Emperor, Strategic Prince, Teofilo

Two-Year-Old Filly - Finsceal Beo, Indian Ink, Miss Beatrix, Sander Camillo, Simply Perfect

The Cartier Racing Awards, now in their 16th year, are recognised as the most prestigious within the European horseracing industry.

Last year's ceremony before an invited audience of 280 saw Cartier Racing Awards won by George Washington, Hurricane Run, Divine Proportions, Westerner and Azamour among others.

In addition to the eight horses awards, the Cartier / Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit will be presented to the person or persons who, in the opinion of the special 18-strong Cartier Jury, has/have done most for European racing and/or breeding either over their lifetime or within the past 12 months.

The list of past winners of the Daily Telegraph Award of Merit is as follows; Henry Cecil, David & Patricia Thompson, Lord Oaksey, Prince Khalid Abdullah, John Magnier, His Highness The Aga Khan, Peter Walwyn, the Head Family, Sir Peter O'Sullevan, Frankie Dettori, John Dunlop, the Marquess of Hartington, Francois Boutin, Lester Piggott and Henri Chalhoub.

The 2006 Cartier Jury includes Charlie Brooks, Alan Byrne, Mick Channon, Luca Cumani, the Earl of Derby, Mike Dillon, Douglas Erskine-Crum, Christopher Foster, Philip Freedman, Lord Grimthorpe, Peter Jones, Simon Marsh, Jim McGrath, Sir Peter O'Sullevan, Anthony Penfold, Brough Scott, Sir David Sieff and Howard Wright.

The Cartier Racing Awards were established in 1991 to recognise excellence in the racehorse.

Details of the 2006 Cartier Racing Awards' winners will be made available to the media on an embargoed basis on the morning of Wednesday, November 15.


It was announced today that Scottish & Newcastle (owner of John Smith's) has extended its current agreement to sponsor the world's greatest steeple chase until 2010.

Charles Barnett, Managing Director of Aintree Racecourse said: "This is tremendous news for The National and jump racing as a whole. The original contract with John Smith's included the 2005, 2006 and 2007 meetings. This has now been extended until the 2010 renewal with an option for a further three years."

For John Smith's, Head of Public Relations and Sponsorship, Nigel Pollard said: "We entered our agreement in 2004 with great expectations; and we have been more than delighted with the results achieved so far. There was no doubt in our minds that a three year extension was the right move for John Smith's and that this new agreement will enable both parties to further develop the world's greatest steeplechase. An important part of this decision was the warmth, co-operation and business-like approach we have experienced with the team at Aintree - a vital ingredient in making this sponsorship work so well for the UK's favourite Ale."

Today's announcement coincided with Aintree's traditional media stable visit to the previous National winning stable.

At Martin Brassil's Co. Kildare stables, the Trainer reported last year's winner to be in fine fettle. "The plan is to run Numbersixvalverde over hurdles at Leopardstown over the Christmas period. We may then consider the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup in mid February, again at Leopardstown, and then perhaps another outing over hurdles before Aintree."

Owner Bernard Carroll confirmed that he and his family were looking forward to returning to Aintree for another crack at the big one next April. "Owners dream of a National winner and when you are lucky enough to experience it, you realise nothing could ever have prepared you for the exhilaration and excitement, it is unbelievable."


John Smith's Grand National winning jockey, Niall Madden will head to Aintree this weekend targeting another victory over the famous National fences in only his second ever meeting at the course. Madden, who turned 21 on Saturday (11th November) will ride the Davy Fitzgerald trained Pearly Jack in the £100,000 totesport.com Becher Chase on day two of the North West Masters meeting (Sunday 19th November). Day one of the North West Masters will take place at the nearby Haydock Park Racecourse on Saturday 18th November.

Racing at Haydock Park will feature the three-mile Betfair Chase, which is the initial leg of the Betfair Million, jump racing's £1million bonus which involves winning the Betfair Chase followed by either the Stan James King V1 Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day or the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28th, plus the totesport Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.

On Sunday, Aintree will stage two races over the National fences, the £100,000 totesport.com Becher Chase and £60,000 totepool Grand Sefton Steeplechase. The totesport.com Becher Chase, one of the highlights of the jump season, is established as a stepping-stone to the world's most famous Chase, the John Smith's Grand National.


Once again, the total prize money for the John Smith's Grand National meeting has risen, this year by £90,000 with £2,320,000 (3,480,000) to be won over the three-day meeting (April 12th - 14th 2007).

On Thursday, the John Smith's Anniversary 4YO Hurdle has increased by £10,000 to £130,000 (195,000), whilst on Friday the most significant uplift is the John Smith's Melling Steeple Chase which receives a £50,000 boost to £200,000 (300,000).

Prize money on John Smith's Grand National day rises to £1,150,000 (1,725,000) with the John Smith's Maghull Novices' Steeple Chase over 2 miles increasing by £15,000 to £125,000 (187,500) and the Scottish and Newcastle Aintree Hurdle up £10,000 to £160,000 (240,000).

It remains an ambition of Aintree Racecourse and Scottish & Newcastle (owner of John Smith's) to increase the total prize fund of the John Smith's Grand National to £1million during the course of the sponsorship period. The John Smith's Grand National will again be the 5th race on the card and has a scheduled off time of 4.15 pm.


Tickets and corporate hospitality packages for the 2007 John Smith's Grand National meeting have been on sale since August and Aintree is predicting another bumper crowd when it opens its new facilities for the 2007 showcase event.

"Sales for all enclosures, including Aintree's new grandstands, the Earl of Derby and Lord Sefton stands have been exceptionally strong on Ladies' Day (Friday) and Grand National Day. However, there is still County Enclosure capacity available on all three days of the meeting. With the finalisation of phase two of our redevelopment project, it's going to be a very exciting three-day meeting and I advise racegoers wanting to attend any day of the 2007 event to purchase in advance to avoid disappointment," said Charles Barnett.


The John Smith's Topham Chase, to be run over the National fences on Friday 13th April, will change to an "early closing" race in 2007. For many years Aintree has maintained a policy of 5-day entries for all races other than the John Smith's Grand National. However, the Topham Chase has developed into a highly competitive race in its own right and will now be run as an open handicap with no rating band. As is the case with the John Smith's Grand National, BHB Senior Jumps Handicapper, Phil Smith, will frame a handicap specifically for the race.

"At this stage we intend to try this as a one year experiment and obviously the four week gap between Cheltenham and Aintree will help next year. We want a post Cheltenham early closing so the closing date for this contest will be Wednesday 21st March 2007," said Charles Barnett.


In order to introduce some flexibility in respect of jockeys who may have the necessary experience to ride in the John Smith's Grand National (e.g. a jockey who has ridden a host of Point-to-Point winners or has successfully competed over the National fences), but who may not have ridden the 15 winners over hurdles and steeple chases as required by the present race conditions, jockeys who have ridden 10 or more such winners, may apply to the HRA by April 5th 2007. If, and only if, they apply by this date and are deemed to have had the required level of experience, dispensation to ride in the John Smith's Grand National may be granted. It has however been stipulated that this dispensation will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Malcolm Wallace, HRA Director of Regulation, said "We are introducing flexibility in order to strike the right balance so as not to eliminate somebody unnecessarily who may have the experience to take part in this unique test of horsemanship."


Once again, the successful breeders received their awards at today's stable visit.

Representing the late Major F.B. Boyd, joint breeder and son J.G. Boyd collected the award for breeder of the winning horse, Numbersixvalverde.

In addition, a similar award was made to Mr and Mrs R Crank, breeders of the first British bred horse to finish, Forest Gunner; this being the second consecutive year they have collected this prestigious prize.

An award was also presented to winning lad, Valentyn Gevelenko.


The traditional John Smith's Grand National Meeting Top Tipster Award was this year won by Julian Armfield, who attends the meeting on behalf of the BBC World Service.


Barnett also announced today that plans were underway for the staging of "Sport Celebrates the Grand National", a charity ball due to be held at the Landmark Hotel, London on Thursday 19th April 2007.

"The event will be backed by John Smith's and will raise vital funds for the Spinal Injuries Association and the Retraining of Racehorses. It promises to be a truly spectacular occasion," he said.


Rose Todd, Official Tour Guide and Customer Service Administrator for Newmarket Racecourses, has won the 'Outstanding Customer Service' award at the Regional Enjoy England Awards for Excellence. The winners were announced on Thursday, November 9 at Woburn Safari Park. Now in their 16th year, the Enjoy England Awards for Excellence are recognised as the premier awards for the UK tourism Industry.

For the last four years, Rose has been the Official Tour Guide for the racecourse. Her tours not only provide racegoers with the history of Newmarket and its two racecourses, but she also helps to demystify the experience of a day at the races and all the racing jargon that goes with it. There is nothing that is too much trouble for Rose, whether it is explaining the intricacies of the racecard to a racing novice, explaining the rules of handicapping and even taking visitors down to the start of a race. She will do as much as she possibly can to ensure people have a wonderful experience at Newmarket

Rose has been with Newmarket Racecourses for 6 years in total. Her role began in the Hospitality Department as a raceday hostess for corporate guests before she moved to the box office where, in addition to her raceday role as Tour Guide, she is responsible for ticket fulfilment in the build-up to all 37 racedays at Newmarket.

"We are all thrilled that Rose has won this prestigious award," said Lisa Hancock, Managing Director of Newmarket Racecourses. "The wonderful behind-the-scenes tours that she leads help to give racegoers a better understanding of the sport of kings, providing them with a unique insight into Newmarket, the historic home of horseracing."

It is Rose's passion for racing, and passion for her work at the racecourse, that is the key to her award-winning customer service. She gives willingly of her time to ensure that all racegoers enjoy their visit and she is always ready to go that extra mile without being asked.

"Providing a level of customer service that is second to none is at the top of our list of priorities and we are very proud indeed of Rose's achievement," added Lisa Hancock.

Next stop for Rose is the National Enjoy England Award for Excellence, which take place in early 2007.

For more information on Rose's behind-the-scenes tour on all race-days throughout 2007 please call 01638 675 500.

Information about the awards

The Enjoy England Excellence Awards were created 16 years ago by the English Tourist Board, now known as Visit Britain, and are recognised as the premier awards for the Tourism Industry. Winners of the regional awards will automatically be entered into the national finals, where winning an award is described as winning an 'Oscar' of the tourism industry.


Cambridgeshire runner-up Blue Bajan is on target to make his first foray into Listed company in the £40,000 ibetx.com Churchill Stakes (3.15pm) at Lingfield Park on Winter Ladies Day this Saturday, November 18.

The Andy Turnell-trained four-year-old heads to the 10-furlong contest after posting the best effort of his career when finishing runner-up to the impressive Formal Decree in the 33-runner totesport Cambridgeshire over nine furlongs at Newmarket on September 30.

Turnell revealed today: "Blue Bajan is heading to Lingfield, all being well. He came out of the Cambridgeshire in good form and has had a bit of a freshen up since then. We've always had this race in mind, although it looks a bit hot.

"I was delighted with his run behind Formal Decree at Newmarket. Take the winner out and I'd be even happier. He went up 4lb for that and he's off 98 now, but Adrian (Nicholls) got off him and said he thought he'd win a Listed race, so we decided to have a crack at this one.

"Michael Hills has won on him twice - at Ascot and Newmarket - and he takes the ride on Saturday."

Turnell is weighing up future options for Blue Bajan, who showed his liking for Lingfield's Polytrack surface when securing a 12-furlong handicap at the course in October 2005, and he could return to the venue in March for the Group Three Winter Derby.

The Swindon handler reported: "I would hope there might be more improvement to come from him because he's only four. He looks stronger but how much can they improve? He's improved considerably through the season.

"It would depend how he runs on Saturday as to what we do now with him. He must have a break anyway but he's not a horse that you can turn out for two months and forget about. He gallops about and wants to come in all the time. He wouldn't go to Dubai but he could go hurdling. We are also considering having a crack at the Winter Derby with him in March."

The ibetx.com Churchill stakes has attracted a high-quality 27-strong entry that includes the past two winners of the race, the Paul Webber-trained Kew Green, and Grand Passion from the Geoff Wragg yard.

Group Three winner Orcadian and Group Two victors Nayyir and Weightless could line up, alongside the Dermot Weld-trained Simple Exchange, winner of the 2004 Grade Two American Derby.

Others among the excellent entry include totesport.com November Stakes hero Group Captain, Group Two-placed Babodana, Swedish Listed winner Maybach and Godolphin's Centaurus.

The ibetx.com Churchill Stakes is the feature of a highly-entertaining seven-race card on Ladies Day and is one of four races live on Channel 4. The other televised races are the seven-furlong £18,000 Jumping here On Wednesday Handicap (2.10pm), the £18,000 Ladies Day Handicap (2.40pm) over a mile and a half, as well as the mile £10,000 European Breeders' Fund Fillies' Handicap (3.45pm).

Winter Ladies Day will feature competitions for both best-dressed lady and best-dressed gentleman, with superb prizes on offer including a share in the horse Smokin Joe - a four-time winner at Lingfield.

iBETX , established in 2001 by entrepreneur Rocky Mirza, is the future of on-line gambling and is a person-to-person betting exchange that does for betting what e-bay has done for commerce.

iBETX is at the forefront of on-line betting exchanges and gives subscribers the opportunity to bypass the middle man as they wager on action from UK and US horseracing, as well as a range of sports including rugby, cricket, golf, football, NHL, NFL and baseball.

Kate Hills Head of PR for Arena Leisure said " We are delighted to welcome iBETX as first time sponsors to Lingfield Park, Saturday is a very prestigious raceday featuring the listed ibetx.com Churchill stakes, all the races have been well supported with excellent entries and we are looking forward to a really good day of quality racing."

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