LORD DERBY HAILS "LIFE-CHANGING HORSE" AT CARTIER RACING AWARDS
Owner-breeder Lord Derby last night hailed Ouija Board a "life-changing horse" after the five-year-old became the first dual winner of the Cartier Horse Of The Year Award.
The mare, winner of seven Group / Grade One races, also landed the Cartier Older Horse Award at last night's glittering Cartier Racing Awards ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel in London, England.
She was also Cartier Horse Of The Year and Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly in 2004.
"It's the most unbelievable thing to have bred and owned the most successful horse in the history of the Cartier Awards," said Lord Derby. "She's a real dream, she's journeyed around the world and continues to journey. She's in Tokyo at the moment.
"The pressure is on, she is very much the public's horse and the mailbag from strangers grows by the day offering advice - people saying you've got to race her for another season or it's cruel to carry on with her!
"But now's the time to look back and we hope she might breed a future Cartier Award winner.
"She is a wonderful horse who does so much but the real thanks and praise go to Ed (Dunlop - trainer) and all his team at Gainsborough Stables who have done a magnificent job.
"I'm so thrilled to be receiving another Cartier Award at the end of her fourth season. She's been a life-changing horse.
"She goes on and on and to have won four Cartier Awards is unbelievable. One is special but to win four is just amazing."
The Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt Award was won by George Washington and the Cartier Stayers' Award by Yeats.
Both horses are part-owned by Sue Magnier and trained by Aidan O'Brien in Ireland. The awards were collected by Coolmore's director of sales and marketing, David O'Loughlin.
"We're very lucky to have a horse like George and we're also very lucky to have Cartier sponsoring these awards, which are the Oscars of racing," said O'Loughlin.
"David and Diane Nagle are long-time friends and clients of Coolmore so well done to them on breeding Yeats."
Owner Michael Ryan admitted that Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly Award winner Finsceal Beo's exploits this season had been more than he could ever have hoped for.
"I bought her as a potential broodmare and hoped to get black type so she surpassed all our expectations," said Ryan "The 1,000 Guineas is going to be a great race next year and I hope she will improve a bit more."
Finsceal Beo is trained in Ireland by Jim Bolger who captured both the Cartier Two-Year-Old Awards.
Teofilo, owned by Jackie Bolger and trained by her husband Jim, took the Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt Award .
"My parents are sorry they can't be here this evening but thank you very much on their behalf for this award," said the Bolgers' daughter Una Manning, wife of stable jockey Kevin Manning, after collecting the prize.
Owner-breeder Princess Zahra Aga Khan accepted the trophy after French-trained Mandesha won the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly Award.
She said: "This is a surprise, thank you to Cartier, to Alain de Royer Dupre (trainer) and to Christophe (Soumillon - jockey) and all the team at Aiglemont.
"I know I'm officially the breeder but I think we come from a long line of breeders!"
Reverence, trained by Eric Alston, won the Cartier Sprinters' Award and owner/breeder Gary Middlebrook said: "What an honour to be here and what a great industry to be involved with.
"A special thanks to Eric Alston (trainer) and his team for all they've done this year and to Kevin Darley (jockey)."
The Cartier / Daily Telegraph Award of Merit went to Peter Willett.
"When you've been on the shelf for a good many years as I have, it's wonderfully gratifying to receive an award such as this!" said Willett.
The Cartier Racing Awards were established in 1991 to recognise excellence in the racehorse.
OUIJA BOARD IS CARTIER HORSE OF THE YEAR FOR THE SECOND TIME
The amazing mare Ouija Board was named Horse Of The Year at the 2006 Cartier Racing Awards, presented at the Four Seasons Hotel in London's West End on the evening of Wednesday, November 15.
The five-year-old daughter of Cape Cross, trained by Ed Dunlop in Newmarket, England, becomes the first horse in the 16-year history of the Cartier Awards to win the Cartier Horse Of The Year award twice. Lord Derby's star performer also collected the top honour in 2004.
Her terrific performance in the Vodafone Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, where she just touched off Alexander Goldrun, and a second Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs earlier this month also enabled Ouija Board to collect the 2006 Cartier Older Horse Award.
In the Horse Of The Year category, Ouija Board saw off opposition from Pride, Alexandrova, Teofilo and George Washington, while in the Older Horse category she prevailed over Pride, Hurricane Run, Shirocco and Reverence.
Irish trainer Jim Bolger achieves the memorable feat of capturing the Cartier Racing Awards for Two-Year-Old Colt and Two-Year-Old Filly. The unbeaten dual Group One winner Teofilo came out ahead of Holy Roman Emperor, Dutch Art, Strategic Prince and Authorized to win the accolade of Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt, while Finsceal Beo, successful in the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp, becomes the Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly ahead of Simply Perfect, Indian Ink, Sander Camillo and Miss Beatrix.
The Ballydoyle team of trainer Aidan O'Brien and owners Sue & John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith once again enjoyed a wonderful year and this is reflected with George Washington, the outstanding miler of his generation, just taking the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt Award from Arc victor Rail Link, with the other nominations being Dylan Thomas, Sir Percy and Red Rocks.
Yeats, successful in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, is another winner for the Ballydoyle operation, securing the Cartier Stayer title. The five-year-old saw off determined competition from Sergeant Cecil, Montare, Kastoria and Shamdala.
Gary and Lesley Middlebrook enjoyed a wonderful year with their home-bred Reverence, who collects the Cartier Sprinter Award ahead of Les Arcs, Amadeus Wolf, Iffraaj and Desert Lord.
Success for France comes with the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly Award just going to Mandesha, owned by Princess Zahra Aga Khan and a three-time Group One winner, who beat Alexandrova in a photo-finish, with Speciosa, Nannina and Confidential Lady the other nominations.
The eight horse awards were decided by a tried and tested combination of points achieved in Pattern races, the views of racing journalists on Cartier's Racing Panel, and votes from readers of Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph. The Pattern races counted towards 40 per cent of the total, with the Cartier Racing Panel's deliberations also having a 40 per cent share and the votes of the newspaper readers making up the final 20 per cent.
The Cartier Racing Awards, European racing's equivalent of the Oscars and recognised as the most prestigious within European horseracing, will honour the best horses of each Flat season, as well as a man (men) or woman (women) who has (have) made an outstanding contribution to the sport.
The Cartier Racing Awards were established in 1991 to recognise excellence in the racehorse.
PETER WILLETT ORDER OF MERIT
Peter Willett, one of the world's leading experts on thoroughbred racehorses, has been voted the winner of the 2006 Cartier / Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit.
Peter's involvement in racing stretches over a period of more than 60 years and encompasses significant achievements as a journalist, author and breeder, while his substantial involvement in the development of the Pattern system modernised racing on both the national and international stage.
The Cartier / Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit is for 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 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.
Cartier Champion Older Horse
Cartier Horse Of The Year
OUIJA BOARD (GB)
5 b m Cape Cross (IRE) -Selection Board (Welsh Pageant)
Form: -43215121 Owner: Lord Derby
Trainer: Ed Dunlop Breeder: Stanley Estate & Stud Co
The amazing Ouija Board story continued in 2006 and the great mare collects the 2006 Cartier Racing Awards for Champion Older Horse and Horse Of The Year.
She has now won four Cartier Racing Awards, having been crowned Three-Year-Old Filly and Horse Of The Year in 2004.
Ouija Board is the first horse in the distinguished 16-year history of the Cartier Racing Awards to capture the Horse Of The Year title twice.
At the start of this year, the Cape Cross mare had already gained no less than four Group/Grade One victories carrying the famous black and white silks of Lord Derby, with the quartet coming in different countries - England, Ireland, the USA and Hong Kong.
Three were in her remarkable three-year-old season in 2004 when she met defeat only once in five outings. A facile victory in the Listed R L Davison Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket meant she went for the principal British Classic for fillies, the Group One Vodafone Oaks at Epsom, which she completely dominated to score by seven length.
The Irish Classic, the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh, was her next target and she again came out on top before being rested over the summer. Taking on colts for the first time in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, she encountered traffic problems entering the straight but finished with a late flourish to take third behind Bago.
Ouija Board made the long journey to Lone Star Park, Texas, USA, to contest the 2004 Grade One Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Again showing a great turn of foot, she came home a length and a half ahead of Film Maker.
A four-year-old season troubled by training setbacks ended in triumph with victory in the Group One Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase in December, 2005.
Her 2006 campaign began in Dubai in the Group One Sheema Classic on March 25, when she did not enjoy the clearest of runs to finish fourth to Hearts Cry. On April 23, she was back in Hong Kong for the Group One Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Sha Tin and again was out of luck, finishing with great effect to be beaten under half a length in third behind Irridescence.
Following her return to Newmarket, Ouija Board's first British start of 2006 came in the Group One Vodafone Coronation Cup at Epsom in June when, after a long battle up the straight, she just found Shirocco too strong.
At Royal Ascot, the decision was taken to drop Ouija Board down in distance to 10 furlongs for the Group One Prince of Wales's Stakes. She had not won over this distance since early in her three-year-old career and, with the main focus on David Junior and Electrocutionist, she was sent off an 8/1 chance.
Partnered by Olivier Peslier, Ouija Board came from off the pace with a devastating run down the outside to defeat Electrocutionist half a length. In the jubilant winners' enclosure, her owner Lord Derby perfectly summarised his superstar by declaring: "What a girl!"
For her next two starts, Ouija Board remained at 10 furlongs. In the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown she failed to get a clear passage and finished fifth to David Junior.
That frustrating effort was followed by what for many people has been the race of the season in the Vodafone Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in August. Ouija Board was up against another great filly in Alexander Goldrun but surely nobody could have predicted what a contest it would prove to be.
Virtually head to head throughout the final furlong, with neither filly giving in, it was Ouija Board who just surged ahead in the dying strides under Frankie Dettori to defeat the Irish challenger by a short-head.
Ouija Board remained at 10 furlongs for her next outing, going down by a head to Dylan Thomas in the Irish Champion Stakes with Jamie Spencer up before regaining her crown in the 11-furlong Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Churchill Downs on November 4, when she stormed home by two and a quarter lengths in the hands of Dettori.
This remarkable mare has now earned well over £3 million in prize money and has become a public favourite wherever she races. Her career is not over, as she is set run in Japan and Hong Kong before her retirement to stud at the end of the year.
Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly
FINSCEAL BEO (IRE)
2 ch f Mr Greeley (USA) - Musical Treat (IRE) (Royal Academy (USA))
Form: -12611 Owner: Michael Ryan
Trainer: Jim Bolger IRE Breeder: Rathbarry Stud
Bred by Rathbarry Stud, Finsceal Beo was purchased for 340,000 euros by Michael Ryan's Al Eile Stud at the Goffs Sales in Ireland in September, 2005.
The Mr Greeley filly made her debut in a six-furlong maiden at Leopardstown on April 23, when she showed a willing attitude to score by three quarters of a length.
A hairline fracture meant that Finsceal Beo was not seen again until September 1, in a mile nursery at Tralee, where she performed with credit to chase home Numen, conceding 7lb to the winner.
Contesting the very valuable and competitive Goffs Million for her third start, over seven furlongs at the Curragh on September 19, Finsceal Beo ran an excellent race to finish sixth of 28 behind Miss Beatrix, staying on well from her unfavourable draw.
Finsceal Beo showed her class and rapid progress by landing her next two outings. After a mightily impressive five-length victory in the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac over a mile at Longchamp on Arc Day, she produced another sublime performance to take the Group Two In The Pink Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket on October 14 over a furlong less, recording a comfortable three-length success over Rahiyah.
Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt
2 b c Galileo (IRE) - Speirbhean (IRE) (Danehill (USA))
Form: -11111 Owner: Jackie Bolger
Trainer: Jim Bolger IRE Breeder: Jim Bolger
Teofilo, home-bred by the Bolger family, is a son of Galileo, who is enjoying a superb start to his stallion career. He takes the Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt award after ending his juvenile season unbeaten after five races, all over seven furlongs.
After a narrow debut success at the Curragh on July 16, Teofilo stepped up to Listed company later that month at Leopardstown, when he beat Middleham by a comfortable length and three quarters, looking every inch a top-class performer.
Teofilo landed his first success at Pattern level in the Group Two Galileo European Breeders' Fund Futurity Stakes at the Curragh on August 26, holding off Eagle Mountain to score by a head, and he returned to the track the following month in the Group One Laing O'Rourke National Stakes when he again showcased his massive talent with a decisive length and a quarter victory over Holy Roman Emperor.
On his final outing of 2006 in the Group Darley One Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on October 14, Teofilo again got the better of Holy Roman Emperor, this time by a head, displaying his battling qualities to land the spoils having been headed inside the final furlong, thus preserving his 100 per cent record.
He goes into the winter as favourite for the Stan James 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and Vodafone Derby at Epsom, with talk of a possible attempt at the Triple Crown - a feat last achieved by Nijinsky in 1970.
Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly
3 b f Desert Style (IRE) - Mandalara (IRE) (Lahib (USA))
Form: -711D111 Owner: Princess Zahra Aga Khan
Trainer: Alan De Royer-Dupre FR Breeder: Princess Zahra Aga Khan
Mandesha, owned and bred by Princess Zahra Aga Khan, takes the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly accolade, having shown her class and versatility throughout this season.
Unraced as a juvenile, the daughter of Desert Style followed a luckless run on her debut over 10 furlongs at Longchamp on April 30 with victory over half a furlong extra at Saint-Cloud a month later.
Pitched into Listed company over an extended 11 furlongs at Le Lion-D'Angers on June 13, Mandesha scored by a neck, and next time at Maisons-Laffitte on July 2, dropped back to nine furlongs in the Group Three Prix Chloe, she came home in front of Sexy Lady, only to be disqualified and placed last after causing interference inside the distance. Mandesha made up for that disappointment, however, by going on to win her next three races, all in Group One company. Her superb hat-trick kicked off in the Prix d'Astarte over a mile at Deauville on July 30, when she got the better of Impressionnante by half a length.
Proving her adaptability at the highest level, Mandesha then scored over a mile and a half in the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp on September 10, when such was her superiority over her 10 rivals, she could afford to be eased by her jockey inside the final furlong, comfortably defeating Montare by a length and a half.
Her final outing saw Mandesha triumph in the 10-furlong Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp on October 1. Having been brought with a daring run up the inside by Christophe Soumillon, she was forced to fight to the line by runner-up Satwa Queen, but still had enough in reserve to come home three quarters of a length clear.
Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt
GEORGE WASHINGTON (IRE)
3 b c Danehill (USA) - Bordighera (USA) (Alysheba (USA))
Form: -12316 Owner: Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien IRE Breeder: Lael Stables
George Washington, a half-brother to triple Group One winner Grandera, carried all before him during an exceptional two-year-old campaign that yielded four victories, signing off with two clear-cut wins at Group One level and the accolade of Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt.
The Danehill colt began this season in similarly explosive form, storming to a two and a half length success over Sir Percy in the first British Classic, the Stan James 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 6, displaying his brilliant change of gear to settle the contest in a matter of strides.
Heavy ground at the Curragh in the Irish version later that month was not to George Washington's liking, although he still managed to finish a good second behind Araafa. Muscle damage sustained during the race meant that he was not at peak condition for his next appearance, in the Group Two totesport Celebration Mile at Goodwood on August 27, though he ran a decent third behind Caradak and Killybegs.
However, George Washington retuned to his brilliant best in the Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on September 23. Always travelling supremely well behind the leaders, he cruised to the front approaching the final furlong without being asked a serious question, and quickened clear of his field, comprehensively reversing form with his Curragh conqueror Araafa to score by a length and a quarter.
George Washington made his final appearance in the US$5-million Grade One Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs, USA, on November 4. Despite trying the 10-furlong trip and dirt surface for the first time, he still ran well, finishing an honourable sixth behind Invasor.
Cartier Stayer Of The Year
5 b h Sadler's Wells (USA) - Lydonville (IRE) (Top Ville)
Form: -1127 Owner: Sue Magnier
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien IRE Breeder: Barronstown Stud & Orpendale
Yeats is the 2006 Cartier Stayer Of The Year following magnificent victories at Royal Ascot and at Glorious Goodwood.
Prior to this year, the Sadler's Wells horse had not ventured beyond 14 furlongs. A leading fancy for the Derby as a three-year-old, he was forced to miss that Classic due to injury but made amends the following season by collecting the Coronation Cup at Epsom. He also showed last season that he was not short of stamina by finishing a staying on fourth in the Irish St Leger. This year, he made his seasonal reappearance in the Gold Cup over two and a half miles at Royal Ascot. A magnificent training performance from Aidan O'Brien saw Yeats simply blow away the opposition with an authoritative fourth-length success over Reefscape, with Distinction in third.
He then headed to Glorious Goodwood in August for the Group Two ABN Amro Goodwood Cup over two miles on August 3, when he was equally as impressive as he had been at Ascot and easily beat Geordieland by five lengths. A crack at the Irish Field St Leger was next on the cards and at the Curragh on September 16 he went down by half a length to the smart filly Kastoria, having not been suited by the slow early pace in the 14-furlong contest.
Connections then made the bold step to take Yeats "Down Under" for a crack at the Group One Emirates Melbourne Cup. Saddled with top-weight, the horse put up a bold effort in the famous contest and was in front with a half a mile to go before fading into seventh place.
Cartier Sprinter Of The Year
5 ch g Mark Of Esteem (IRE) - Imperial Bailiwick (IRE) (Imperial Frontier)
Form: -314105112 Owner: Gary & Lesley Middlebrook
Trainer: Eric Alston Breeder: Gary & Lesley Middlebrook
Reverence was undoubtedly the most improved horse of 2006 and is the Cartier Sprinter Of The Year. Home-bred by Gary and Lesley Middlebrook at their base in Windermere, Cumbria, the Mark Of Esteem gelding did not run until he was a four-year-old and ended 2005 with a maiden win and three handicap successes.
This season began at the Lincoln meeting, this year run at Redcar, back in March when he finished third to Les Arcs over six furlongs on his first start in Listed company. A victory in a five-furlong conditions event at Nottingham the following month was next and he then recorded his first Pattern race victory by taking Sandown's Group Two betfair.com Temple Stakes in May.
The fast ground was against him at Royal Ascot in the Group Two King's Stand Stakes - Reverence has always shown a distinct preference for soft conditions - but he showed how far he had progressed by winning the five-furlong Group One VC Bet Nunthorpe Stakes at York's Ebor meeting in August, recording a comfortable two-length victory over Amadeus Wolf.
At Haydock in September, the rains arrived and Reverence was in his element on the heavy ground as he defeated Quito by a neck in the Group One six-furlong Betfred Sprint Cup. That victory at the North West venue was especially memorable for Mr and Mrs Middlebrook who hail from the region, with Mr Middlebrook also a director at Haydock Park.
Reverence attempted to make it three Group One wins in a row and only found Desert Lord a neck too strong in the five-furlong Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp in October, staying on strongly in the closing stages on ground that was plenty fast enough for him.
PETER WILLETT GAINS AWARD OF MERIT
The Cartier / Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit for the person or persons who, in the opinion of the special 18-strong Cartier Jury, have done most for European racing and/or breeding either over their lifetime or within the past 12 months goes to Peter Willett, former Thoroughbred Breeders' Association President, renowned journalist, author, breeding expert, and Pattern Race pioneer.
The list of past winners of the Daily Telegraph Award of Merit is as follows; Henry Cecil, David and 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 Cartier Racing Awards, now in their 16th year, are European horse racing's equivalent of the Oscars.
Peter Willett is regarded as one of the world's leading experts on thoroughbred racehorse breeding and is a renowned journalist and racing historian who has provided expert commentary and analysis for over 60 years.
If that were not enough, he has played a seminal role in shaping the face of modern horseracing through his ground-breaking involvement in the development of the Pattern system.
Born July 19, 1919, Peter's career in horseracing began in 1946 when he joined the Sporting Chronicle as that newspaper's Racing and Breeding Correspondent, a post he held until it ceased publication almost 40 years later.
In 1963 he combined his role at the Sporting Chronicle with that of breeding expert at Horse & Hound.
The following year, Peter became one of the pioneering figures in a project that was to fundamentally shape racing in the latter part of the twentieth century and pave the way for the international competition that we now take for granted.
As a key member of the Duke of Norfolk's Committee on the Pattern of Racing, he helped formulate a series of races that would adequately and fairly test the best horses in Europe, and ultimately the world.
Prior to the establishment of the Pattern, penalties for major races were linked to prize money, and British races at that time were generally worth less than the French equivalents. English horses were collecting spoils across the Channel with greater frequency than the French authorities would have liked, aided by a system that penalised the best French horses for having accrued more earnings than their British-trained counterparts.
Recognising the need for change to an antiquated system, and amidst fears that the French racing authorities may introduce measures to halt the British invaders, the Duke of Norfolk brought together a group of forward-thinking men who succeeded in implementing measures that would not only pull horseracing into the twentieth century, but drive it confidently into the twenty-first.
Peter played a significant role within that Committee to create the Pattern race system of Group One, Two and Three races, that has been globally embraced and has done more perhaps than any other initiative to internationalise the sport.
His impressive knowledge of horseracing, combined with an intelligent and insightful approach to issues, saw him appointed to the Flat Race Planning Committee and Flat Race Pattern Committee in 1967, a post he held for 27 years.
In 1985, as a member of the Holland-Martin Committee, he was instrumental in establishing an accurate criterion for collating Pattern races internationally, which included the introduction of a four-year rolling average rating to assess the quality of Group races and so maintain the integrity of the system.
Peter was President of the Thoroughbred Breeders' Association and has held key management posts at the International Cataloguing Standards Committee and the European Breeders' Fund. His reputation as one of the world's foremost authorities on thoroughbred breeding is well earned.
In 1966 he was appointed the Breeding Consultant to the Duke of Norfolk's Angmering Park Stud where his expertise was employed to great effect. His understanding of the breed was demonstrated on numerous occasions as he insightfully matched mares and stallions, with great results.
Peter's successes for the stud include the winners of numerous major races including Ascot Gold Cup winner Ragstone, Moon Madness, triumphant in the St Leger and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, as well as Coronation Cup and Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud victor Sheriff's Star, and Timboroa, winner of the Premio Presidente Della Republique. If that were not enough, he also acted as the consultant in the breeding of the exceptional Celtic Swing.
The Damister colt was surely one of the most brilliant and talked about horses of the 1990s, ending his unbeaten juvenile season with a 12-length demolition job in the Group One Racing Post Trophy, before capturing the 1995 Prix du Jockey Club. Without Peter's deep knowledge of bloodlines, the mating of Damister and Celtic Ring may never have occurred.
The legacy of that union continues as Celtic Swing has sired the brilliant Six Perfections and crack Australian sprinter Takeover Target, who won the Group Two King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and the Group One Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama, Japan on October 1.
Throughout his time with Angmering Park Stud, Peter also acted as Breeding Consultant to Cliveden Stud, and in that capacity he was responsible for 1974 Oaks heroine Polygamy, and the brilliant Reference Point, winner of the Derby, St Leger, King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Racing Post Trophy.
A Jockey Club member since 1981, Peter has published a dozen books in his time, several of which are considered essential reading for those with an interest in racing history and particularly thoroughbred breeding.
His 1966 volume, An Introduction To The Thoroughbred, was placed 10th in the Racing Post's "Big Racing Read - The fifty best racing books you'll ever read", with breeding expert Tony Morris opining; "There have been many books written about breeding, and plenty since this one appeared. And geneticists have lately uncovered numerous facts that were not available to Peter Willett when he wrote this book. But there is still no better primer...Students of breeding are best advised to read this one first; they will be better informed than those who have ignored it."
In the same list, Willett's 1991 offering, A History of The General Stud Book, came in at 46, while his invaluable collaboration with Roger Mortimer and Richard Onslow, Biographical Encyclopaedia Of British Flat Racing (1978), was 40th in the prestigious list.
Peter has received several honours in recognition of his unique contribution to thoroughbred horseracing and in 2004 he received the coveted Horserace Writers and Photographers Association Outstanding Achievement Award.
That same year also saw him receive Goodwood Racecourse's Lifetime Achievement Award. He has enjoyed a near 30-year association with the picturesque West Sussex venue, having been made a director of the course in 1977.
If further evidence were required of Peter's significant contribution to modern horseracing, he ranked 72 in the Racing Post's "100 Makers of Twentieth Century Racing", sandwiched between the influential duo, Sir David Robinson (owner) and the 2nd Viscount Astor (owner/breeder).
SUPERB HALF-DOZEN FOR £200,000 BETFAIR CHASE
The £200,000 Betfair Chase (1.50pm) at Haydock Park on Saturday, November 18, has attracted a superb line up, with half a dozen of the finest chasers around set to do battle.
Kingsliff, successful in the inaugural Betfair Chase defends his crown, along with the 2005 runner-up, Beef Or Salmon. The Robert Alner-trained Kingscliff was fifth to Our Vic in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on October 28 on his seasonal debut while Beef Or Salmon, trained in Ireland by Michael Hourigan, claimed the notable scalp of last season's totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup hero War Of Attrition when collecting the James Nicholson Wine Merchant Champion Chase at Down Royal on November 4.
Currently trading as the 11/8 market leader with Betfair, the Paul Nicholls-trained Kauto Star, winner of the Grade One Tingle Creek Chase over two miles at Sandown last season, is set to step up to three miles for the first time following his spectacular reappearance in the Bonusprint.com Old Roan Chase over two and a half miles at Aintree last month.
France is represented by the Francois Doumen-trained L'Ami, fourth in last season's totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup and a promising fifth on his seasonal reappearance over hurdles at Auteuil on November 5.
The two other contenders are Iris's Gift from the Jonjo O'Neill stable, victorious in the 2004 World Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Ollie Magern, who got the better of Kingscliff in the 2005 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
The Betfair Chase is the first leg of the ground-breaking Betfair Million, which offers a generous £1 million bonus to any horse that wins three of the season's most prestigious Grade One three-mile chases - the Betfair Chase followed by either the Stan James King George VI Chase at Kempton or the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over the Christmas period and then adds the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
Last year's first running of the Betfair Chase lived up to its star billing as the Robert Alner-trained Kingscliff held Irish star Beef Or Salmon by a length and a half, with 2005 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Kicking King in third.
Betfair spokesman Tony Calvin said: "We are delighted to have attracted such a high-class field for this year's race. Kauto Star is currently 11-1 for the Gold Cup on Betfair but I would expect him to be favourite for the Festival showpiece if, as expected, he proves his stamina and wins on Saturday.
"On a strict interpretation of his Aintree win he could be rated in the 180s, which would obviously make him the best horse in the land.
"But with last year's first and second in the race, Kingscliff and Beef Or Salmon, as well as the Gold Cup fourth, a World Hurdle winner, and a Charlie Hall winner, he will clearly be fully tested."
To win the Betfair Chase - Betfair bet: 11-8 Kauto Star, 3-1 Beef Or Salmon, 9-2 L'Ami, 7-1 Kingscliff, 16-1 Iris's Gift, 20-1 Ollie Magern.
THE BETFAIR CHASE
Class 1, Grade 1, £200,000 total prize fund. 1.50pm, Haydock Park, Saturday, November 18. For five-year-olds and upwards, three miles. Weights: five-year-olds 11st 7lb; six-year-olds and upwards 11st 8lb. Allowances: mares 7lb. Entries closed November 13 (14 entries), final declaration stage 10.00am, November 16 (six declarations).
Form Horse Age/Wgt Owner Trainer/Jockey
1) 0U32-21 BEEF OR SALMON (IRE) 10-11-08p Joe Craig Michael Hourigan IRE/Andrew McNamara
2) 112FP-5 IRIS'S GIFT 9-11-08 Robert Lester Jonjo O'Neill/Dominic Elsworth
3) 12/21F-1 KAUTO STAR (FR) 6-11-08t Clive Smith Paul Nicholls/Ruby Walsh
4) 21P20-4 KINGSCLIFF (IRE) 9-11-08 Arnie Sendell Robert Alner/Robert Walford
5) 24243-5 L'AMI (FR) 7-11-08 J P McManus Francois Doumen FR/Tony McCoy
6) 06405-U OLLIE MAGERN 8-11-08 Roger Nicholls Nigel Twiston-Davies/Tony Evans
DONALD McCAIN TALKS ABOUT HIS totesport.com BECHER CHASE HOPE INCA TRAIL
Donald McCain today spoke about his totesport.com Becher Chase hope Inca Trail, who will represent the first-season trainer in the £100,000 contest at Aintree on Sunday, November 19, the second day of the North West Masters.
The 36-year-old took over the training licence at Bankhouse, Cholmondeley, from his father Ginger earlier this year and has sent out 12 winners so far this season. Ginger now acts as Donald's assistant trainer. He was speaking at a media event at his yard organised by Aintree racecourse and totesport.
McCain said: "We go to Aintree with a horse that has a serious chance.
"He galloped all the way to the line behind Kauto Star last time over two and a half miles and Graham (Lee) said he would have finished second with another half a furlong.
"When we ran in the John Smith's Grand National last year, Paul Nicholls (his former trainer) said he will either take to the fences or he won't - he's that sort of horse.
"He jumped great and was cantering turning in before stopping to a walk and then picking up again when Brian (Harding) dropped his hands. I think he could be a bridle horse as he travels so well.
"It will be great for me to train a winner at Aintree, more than anywhere else. We are Aintree people and Inca Trail was bought by his owner (John Halewood) as an Aintree horse."
McCain continued to talk about taking over the licence at Bankhouse stables from his father earlier this year: "Not much has changed since I took over - there is still D McCain on the door and on the rugs!
"The most important lesson dad taught me was not to take yourself too seriously. It is all about enjoying the horses and it's great to see nice horses coming up the gallops.
"I don't want to set myself targets but it would be nice to beat last season's total of 35 winners. We've got 12 so far.
"We only ever had 35 horses in the stable in the past but we are up to nearly 80 now and getting to the stage where we might have to start turning some away.
"Trevor Hemmings has sent us six horses which is a fantastic boost for a first-season trainer."
The North West Masters, inaugurated in 2005, is an innovative concept that sees the North West's two major racetracks - Haydock Park and Aintree - join forces to stage a weekend of fantastic racing.
Haydock Park stages a top-quality six-race card on Saturday, November 18 - day one of the two-day North West Masters, which continues at Aintree with six superb races on Sunday, November 19.
Latest totesport prices for the totesport.com Becher Chase
11/2 Dun Doire, 13/2 Clan Royal, 7/1 Tanterari, 10/1 Pearly Jack, 14/1 Just In Debt, Le Duc, Nil Desperandum, 16 Eurotrek, Forest Gunner, Haut De Gamme, Inca Trail, Jack High, King Bee, Kings Glen, Lou Du Moulin Mas, Moustique De L'Isle, 20 Another Rum, Bewleys Berry, Dunbrody Millar, Joes Edge, McKelvey, Solar System, 25 I Hear Thunder, Kisslain Des Gales, Native Jack, Swansea Bay, Undeniable, 33 High Cotton, Truckers Tavern, 66 Precious Bane
Each-way 1/4 the odds - 1, 2, 3, 4
SPECIAL BET FROM totesport
Donald McCain to train a Grand National winner at any time during his career - 7/2
Born on March 13, 1970, Donald McCain is the son of Ginger McCain, trainer of the legendary Red Rum, the only horse to win the Grand National three times (1973, 1974 and 1977) and also Amberleigh House, the 2004 Grand National victor.
Donald learnt to ride on his sister Joanne's pony Gambol and rode in his first race on the Flat aged 15 (his father told a few white lies so he could ride) at Haydock Park. He subsequently became a jump jockey, firstly as an amateur and then a professional, riding around 40 winners under Rules. He rode several times over the Grand National fences, finishing fifth aboard Harley in the 1992 Fox Hunters' Chase and 17th on Sure Metal in the 1996 Grand National. He also spent time working in the stables of Luca Cumani, Sir Michael Stoute and Oliver Sherwood.
Donald subsequently became assistant trainer to his father at Bankhouse Stables at Cholmondeley in Cheshire and played a significant role in Amberleigh House's Grand National victory in 2004.
He was expected to take over the licence from his father at the start of the current jump season, but had to wait until June before he was able to train in his own name as he needed to complete the appropriate British Horseracing Board courses. Donald's first winner as a licensed trainer came with Bearaway in a handicap chase at Newton Abbott on June 8.
So far this season, Donald has trained 12 winners. Ginger McCain now acts as Donald's assistant.
INCA TRAIL (IRE) FACTFILE
br g Un Desperado (FR) - Katday (FR) (Miller's Mate)
Owner: Halewood International Ltd
Trainer: Donald McCain
Breeder: Ballysheehan Stud
Race Record: Starts: 29; Wins: 9; 2nd: 4; 3rd: 3
Win & Place Prize Money: £90,942
A full-brother to triple Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Best Mate and the useful Cornish Rebel, Inca Trail began his career with victory in a Naas bumper in January, 2002, for Irish trainer Edward O'Grady.
He subsequently joined Best Mate at Henrietta Knight's yard in Wantage and was next seen when third to Rhinestone Cowboy in the Open Bumper at Cheltenham the following November. He made his hurdles debut that December and was subsequently eighth in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Inca Trail failed to make a splash in two novice chase starts in the 2003/2004 season, though he did reward connections by winning a competitive handicap hurdle at Wincanton in February before flopping badly at Cheltenham and Aintree.
After selling for 30,000 guineas at Doncaster in May, 2004, the start of the 2004/2005 season saw him line up at Chepstow for new connections, coming home third in a novice chase for trainer Paul Nicholls. He subsequently found his level over fences, winning at Ludlow, Wincanton and Sandown.
Last season began with two modest efforts at Huntingdon and Wincanton, but a return to the latter course on November 17 brought victory in the Hamilton Litestat Handicap Chase. An attempt at Cheltenham's cross-country course in December saw him come fifth. His next two starts brought a brace of wins at Sandown under amateur Jamie Snowden, in the Royal Artillery Gold Cup on February 14 and the Grand Military Gold Cup on March 10.
The Grand National-winning owner/trainer combination of John Halewood and Ginger McCain, successful in the great race with Amberleigh House in 2004, purchased Inca Trail for 110,000 guineas (a guinea =£1.05) at Doncaster Sales on March 22 , 2006, with a tilt at the 2006 Aintree marathon firmly in their sights.
In the 2006 John Smth's Grand National, Inca Trail was partnered by Brian Harding and ran well for a very long way. He was still bang in contention approaching two out, before fading into eighth place after the last. The 2005/06 season ended with 11th place behind Lacdoudal in the Betfred Gold Cup at Sandown.
This season the 10-year-old returned to action in a three-mile handicap chase at Chepstow on October 7, finishing sixth behind Tribal Venture. His latest start came in the Grade Two Bonusprint.com Old Roan Chase over two and a half miles at Aintree on October 22, when he stayed on for third behind the impressive winner Kauto Star.
BRITTAIN COLT BACK TO FORM AHEAD OF IBETX.COM CHURCHILL STAKES
IBETX.COM BACKS FOUR RACES ON CHANNEL 4 THIS WEEKEND
Trainer Clive Brittain is looking for a big effort from one-time classic hope Bahar Shumaal in what promises to be an exciting renewal of the Listed £40,000 Ibetx.com Churchill Stakes (3.15pm) at Lingfield Park on Winter Ladies Day this Saturday, November 18.
The Dubai Millennium four-year-old boasted a lofty reputation last season and showed great promise when finishing fifth to the brilliant Hurricane Run in the 2005 Group One Budweiser Irish Derby on only his third start.
Bahar Shumaal subsequently proved disappointing but, sent off the forgotten horse at 33/1, he posted a thrilling seven-length victory on his Polytrack debut at Wolverhampton on October 28, when he swept aside 12 rivals to take what appeared to be a competitive nine-furlong handicap in fine style.
Brittain revealed this morning: "Bahar Shumaal has always looked like he could be a decent horse, and a horse that would get better as he got older. He lost his way a bit for no apparent reason - there was nothing wrong with him physically, we just felt he wasn't putting his races together.
"In his last race he showed somewhere near the form we expect of him and the horse has worked well since, so we think he is probably back on the right road now."
Bahar Shumaal relished the Polytrack surface at Wolverhampton and Brittain believes the colt will be suited by the 10-furlong Ibetx.com Churchill Stakes, which is run on Lingfield's Polytrack.
The Newmarket handler reported: "I'm certain that the Polytrack surface had a role to play in his return to form last time. He has always worked so well here at Newmarket on the artificial surface that it was only a matter of time before we raced him on the all-weather.
"His work has been very good and he's been to Lingfield a couple of times through the year to work. He seems very much at home there so we're looking for a good run from him.
"Depending on how he runs on Saturday, the programme would be to race on the all-weather and then look at going to Dubai with him. It all hinges on Saturday."
The Ibetx.com Churchill Stakes has attracted a maximum field of 14, including the past two winners of the race, the Paul Webber-trained Kew Green, and Grand Passion from the Geoff Wragg yard, as well as Group Two victors Nayyir and Weightless, and the Dermot Weld-trained Simple Exchange, winner of the 2004 Grade Two American Derby at Arlington.
Others set to contest the high-class contest include totesport.com November Stakes hero Group Captain, Group Two-placed Babodana, Swedish Listed winner Maybach and totesport Cambridgeshire runner-up Blue Bajan.
Ibetx.com is sponsoring seven races at Lingfield Park on Saturday, November 18, as part of the betting exchange's strategy, which is to continue to strengthen its position in the UK online betting market.
Four Ibetx.com sponsored races will be shown live on Channel 4, with the highlight being the Ibetx.com Churchill Stakes run over 10 furlongs.
The other Channel 4 televised races are the £18,000 Ibetx.com Betting Exchange Handicap (2.10pm) over seven furlongs, the mile and a half £18,000 Ibetx.com £20 Free Bet Handicap (2.40pm) - which will see Group Three winner Orcadian shoulder top-weight of 10st 1lb in an eight-strong field - as well as the £10,000 Ibetx.com Betting Exchange European Breeders' Fund Fillies' Handicap (3.45pm) over a mile.
Ibetx.com is at the forefront of the new generation of betting exchanges. The company is confident that advanced technology and competitive commission structures, combined with aggressive marketing, will challenge the dominance of Betfair.
Matthew Stubbs, PR Director at Ibetx.com, said: "Clearly Betfair customers are part of our target market and we will give the betting exchange leviathan a good run for its money. But additionally we will seek to bring new punters into exchanges by educating the market about the potential for better returns and the excitement of creating their own markets.
"Our international reach gives us access to a huge number of exchange users and a massive variety of markets. But we are UK based and this will always be a very important region for us, hence the commitment to a UK racing sponsorship programme, which embraces all codes and kicks off on the all-weather at Lingfield on Saturday."