Torrential rain is not only doing its best to scupper this weekend’s flagship November Meeting at Cheltenham, it also reduced the final fortnight of the Flat season to a damp squib.
However, the weather failed to spoil what has been a campaign to remember on the level, laced with richly competitive racing and a stream of star performances.
Rewarding the best of those performances and bringing the curtain down on the Flat of 2019 this week was the glittering ceremony in London for the Cartier Racing Awards.
The awards were established in 1991 to honour the best in European racing, and this time round, eight accolades were handed out, as well as an award of merit.
The mighty mare ENABLE was crowned Cartier horse of the year for the second time, having previously taken the prestigious award in 2017. She became just the third horse to be a two-time winner, after Frankel (2011 and 2012) and Ouija Board (2004 and 2006).
Bred by owner Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms, the 5yo added a further three Group One successes to her remarkable CV with victories in the Coral-Eclipse, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes and Darley Yorkshire Oaks.
She blotted her copybook only when bidding for her third successive Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but is the only European-based filly or mare to gather career earnings of more than £10 million and remains in training for 2020.
Horses trained by John Gosden in Newmarket have now taken the Cartier horse of the year Award in five of the last six years, with the previous ones being Kingman (2014), Golden Horn (2015) and Roaring Lion (2018).
Enable was also named Cartier older horse for 2019 and so equalled the record of the legendary Frankel, another Juddmonte homebred, in gaining five Cartier racing awards in total.
STRADIVARIUS, also trained by Gosden and, like Enable, ridden by Frankie Dettori, won the Cartier stayer award for the second successive year, even though he was also beaten on his final start of the season.
Owned and bred by Bjorn Nielsen, the 5yo son of Sea The Stars was nearly all-conquering with repeat wins in the Group Two Matchbook Yorkshire Cup, Group One Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, Group One Qatar Goodwood Cup and Group Two Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup, handing him the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million for the second time. He also went on to take the Group Two Magners Rose Doncaster Cup, making him the eighth winner of the Stayers’ Triple Crown. It is intended that he too will remain in training for 2020.
Another repeat winner for Team Gosden and Dettori was TOO DARN HOT, who was named the Cartier 3yo colt of the year. Owned by Lord Lloyd-Webber and bred by Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber’s Watership Down Stud, the son of Dubawi was crowned best 2yo colt in 2018.
After an interrupted start to this season, he again demonstrated tremendous ability with Group One victories in the Qatar Prix Jean Prat and Qatar Sussex Stakes.
The fifth award on the night for the Gosden-Dettori combination was Cartier 3yo filly, which went to STAR CATCHER. Another homebred, Anthony Oppenheimer’s middle-distance daughter of Sea The Stars got better and better as the season progressed, with victories in the Group Two Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot, Group One Kerrygold Irish Oaks, Group One Qatar Prix Vermeille and Group One QIPCO British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes.
Godolphin’s BLUE POINT, trained by Charlie Appleby, went through 2019 unbeaten in five starts and won the 2019 Cartier sprinter award. The 5yo son of Shamardal began the campaign at Meydan, where his three wins were topped with Group One success in the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night in March.
He was then given a near three-month break and headed to Royal Ascot. On day one, he was the comfortable length and a quarter winner of the Group One King’s Stand Stakes over 5f before landing the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes on day five over a furlong further. He thus became the first horse to complete the royal meeting’s sprint double in the same year since Choisir in 2003, and the first ever to win both races when they have been Group One contests.
Godolphin also gained the honours in the Cartier 2yo colt division with PINATUBO. Another son of Shamardal trained by Charlie Appleby, Pinatubo was unbeaten in six starts between May and October.
After an impressive five-length success in the Group Two Qatar Vintage Stakes at the end of July on his fourth start, he was truly breathtaking when running away with the Group One Goffs Vincent O’Brien Stakes by nine lengths at The Curragh in September. This made him the highest-rated juvenile on official British Horseracing Authority ratings since Celtic Swing a quarter of a century ago. Pinatubo ended 2019 with a second Group One success in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
Owner-breeder Prince Khalid Abdullah gained a third Cartier award this year courtesy of the unbeaten QUADRILATERAL, who was named best 2yo filly. The Roger Charlton-trained daughter of Frankel was unbeaten in three starts under talented young jockey Jason Watson, and her season culminated with victory in the Group One bet365 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October.
The coveted award of merit went to jockey Pat Smullen. One of the outstanding riders of his generation and a nine-time champion in his native Ireland, Smullen received devastating news in 2018 when diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
A man of outstanding resilience, he has thrown all his efforts into helping others who face the same condition. His outstanding fundraising efforts have resulted in more than €2.5 million being raised for Cancer Trials Ireland and culminated at The Curragh in September with the Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland which saw stars from the past, including Tony McCoy and Ruby Walsh, return to the saddle.