CARTIER RACING AWARDS COUNTDOWN STARTS - SIR PERCY LEADS CARTIER THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT CATEGORY AFTER VODAFONE DERBY TRIUMPH
Sir Percy's thrilling victory in the premier British Classic, the Vodafone Derby, on June 3 vaulted the Marcus Tregoning-trained colt to pole position in the race for the 2006 Cartier Racing Award for three-year-old colts and possibly the Cartier Horse of the Year Award.
The Cartier Racing Awards, European racing's most prestigious accolades which are now in their 16th year, are revealed and presented after the end of the 2006 Flat season at the Four Seasons Hotel in Mayfair, London, England on Wednesday, November 15.
They honour the champions of the Turf, plus one person, and are European horseracing's equivalent of the Oscars.
The eight 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 first points for the 2006 season are revealed today (see below for full details).
Sir Percy is bidding to join Vodafone Derby winners Commander In Chief (1993), Lammtarra (1995), Sinndar (2000) and Galileo (2001) in taking the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt Award after triumphing at Epsom Downs.
The brilliant George Washington, winner of the 2005 Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt Award, drew first blood in the race for the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt Award when scoring a stunning victory in the initial British colts' Classic, the Stan James 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 6, with Sir Percy two and a half lengths back in second.
Sir Percy's success at Epsom Downs sees his Cartier Awards points haul rise to 74, while the Aidan O'Brien-trained George Washington, who has since finished second in the Boylesport Irish 2,000 Guineas, is in second place with 60 points.
Sir Percy and George Washington are attempting to follow the exceptional Andre Fabre-trained 2005 Cartier Horse Of The Year Hurricane Run as the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt Award winner.
2006 Prix du Jockey Club Mitsubishi Motors winner Darsi and 2006 Gainsborough Poule d'Essai des Poulains hero Aussie Rules both have 32 points, while Boylesports Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Araafa (30 points) is another who has staked an early claim to the three-year-old colt title.
Alexandrova's victory in the Vodafone Oaks on June 2 could have a key role in deciding the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly Award.
The Aidan O'Brien-trained filly's impressive six-length win in the fillies' Classic at Epsom Downs brought her points total to 52, two short of Speciosa, who just leads the division courtesy of her fairytale Stan James 1000 Guineas triumph and Oaks fourth for Pam Sly's stable.
The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Germance, who landed the Group One Montjeu Coolmore Prix Saint-Alary at Longchamp on May 21, has 40 points and will attempt to add to that in the Prix de Diane Hermes at Chantilly on June 11, when she could face Gainsborough Poule d'Essai des Pouliches winner Tie Black (32 points).
Hurricane Run, brilliant winner of the Budweiser Irish Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Lucien Barriere last year, picked up two Cartier Awards in 2005, including the ultimate accolade of Horse Of The Year, at the star-studded awards' ceremony in November.
He is bidding to repeat that success this year and showed his well-being with an easy victory in the Group One Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh on May 28.
The Fabre-trained Hurricane Run was a worthy winner of European racing's supreme award but will face stiff competition if he is to be the Cartier Older Horse Of The Year and retain his Cartier Horse Of The Year crown, most notably from his stable companion Shirocco.
The Baron Georg von Ullmann-owned Shirocco, winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf last season, has won both his starts this term, and most recently defeated 2004 Cartier Horse Of The Year Ouija Board in the Group One Vodafone Coronation Cup at Epsom.
Shirocco currently leads the Cartier Older Horse category with 48 points but, with most of the big all-age Group One prizes still to come, he can expect a tough battle to retain his supremacy in the Cartier Older Horse Of The Year
The Cartier Stayers' division is in the very early stages, but Group Two Prix Vicomtesse Vigier winner Shamdala (17 points) and Group Two Yorkshire Cup hero Percussionist (16 points) are setting the pace.
The Dandy Nicholls-trained Moss Vale could be on the short-list for the Cartier Sprinting Award if he continues his early season form, which has seen the Lady O'Reilly-owned five-year-old capture the Group Three Greenland Stakes and Group Two Prix du Gros-Chene this term.
Moss Vale has 20 points, four more than Steenberg who took the Group Two Duke Of York Stakes at York on May 17.
Harry Herbert, Cartier's racing consultant commented: "The Cartier Racing Awards reward exceptional performance on the racecourse and 2006 has already seen superb efforts from horses who will no doubt be in the running for recognition at the season's end.
"George Washington and Sir Percy currently set the standard among the three-year-olds but it is early days and, as we head into high summer with Royal Ascot on the horizon, there is all to play for.
"The older horse category is particularly mouth-watering with Hurricane Run, Shirocco and Ouija Board on the scene, and the likes of Proclamation, Electrocutionist, David Junior and Scorpion waiting in the wings."
For more information, please contact Harry Herbert, Cartier's racing consultant (01488 669166), Florence Paul of Cartier (020 7408 5738), Lucianne Warde-Norbury of Cartier (020 7408 5717) or Mark Popham of Racenews (020 7704 0326)
CARTIER 3-Y-O COLT
SIR PERCY 72
GEORGE WASHINGTON 60
AUSSIE RULES 32
CARTIER 3-Y-0 FILLY
TIE BLACK 32
Salisbury hosts four days of exciting and competitive racing in June, with the first action on Tuesday, June 13, a seven-race card running from 2.15pm through to 5.15pm.
The feature contest is the £12,000 E.B.F. Margadale Fillies' Handicap (3.45pm) over 10 furlongs, won last year by the Gerard Butler-trained Natalie Jane, who went on to perform with credit in Pattern company, most notably when a close third to Playful Act in the Group Two Lancashire Oaks at Haydock.
Sunday, June 18, sees a six-race programme from 2pm through to 4.30pm, including the fifth running of the £32,000 Axminster Carpets Cathedral Stakes (3.30pm), a Listed prize over six furlongs for three-year-olds and upwards, which has had high-class winners in its short history.
Avonbridge took the spoils in 2003 and progressed to score three times in Group company, including in the Group One Prix de L'Abbaye at Longchamp, while 2004 victor Moss Vale has gone on to taste success at Group Two and Group Three level and will bid for a Group 1 win at Royal Ascot.
This is Salisbury's second Sunday fixture of the year and they are always popular with racegoers.
The historic Bibury Meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, June 28 and 29, offers two days of high quality racing and is one of Salisbury's highlights of the year.
Opening day action features the £18,000 Goadsby Bibury Cup (3.30pm), a 12-furlong handicap for three-year-olds, which last year provided the shock of the meeting when 50/1 chance Magic Instinct scored for trainer Marcus Tregoning and jockey Martin Dwyer, who recently teamed up to win the Derby with Sir Percy.
With prize money of £21,500, the Noel Cannon Memorial Trophy Handicap (4.30pm) is the richest race on June 28. This competitive mile handicap also went to an outsider a year ago, when 33/1 shot Audience proved a length and a half too strong for Freeloader.
The highlight on the second day, and the most valuable prize over the two-day fixture, is the £22,500 Axminster Carpets Auction Stakes (3.10pm), a six-furlong conditions event for two-year-olds, which has been won by some top-class performers in recent seasons.
Last year's hero was none other than Sir Percy, who posted a stylish performance to defeat subsequent Listed winner Don't Dili Dali by a length and a quarter. Unbeaten in four starts as a juvenile, he followed an excellent second in the 2000 Guineas on his return this year by taking the Derby at Epsom.
Milk It Mick, who went on to land the Group One Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket and later a Grade One prize in America, scored in 2003, while Tout Seul, second in 2002, also went on to taste Group One glory in the Dewhurst Stakes.
Another intriguing contest on the card is the Herbert and Gwen Blagrave E.B.F. Maiden Stakes (2.40pm) over seven furlongs, which boats a rich heritage in producing high class winners.
Godolphin's Perfectperformance, successful in 2004, went on to Group Two success in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot, while other recent scorers include Norse Dancer (2002), Passing Glance (2001) and Priors Lodge (2000), all later victorious in Group company.
Admission prices for all four days are Members' Enclosure £18, Tattersalls Enclosure £11 and Course Enclosure £6, but reduced rates are available for all three enclosures by booking up to seven working days in advance.
Accompanied children under 16 gain free admission and car parking is free. Childrens' entertainments are provided on the Sunday, June 18, fixture.
The gates open at noon for the June racedays and a giant screen shows the action at every fixture.
Jeremy Martin, Clerk of the Course and General Manager at Salisbury, commented: "June is a great month here at Salisbury with quality racing throughout.
"We are obviously delighted last year's Bibury Meeting threw up the Derby winner, Sir Percy, and this clearly demonstrates that we can attract the very best at Salisbury."