Stunning Alpha Centauri leads the race for Cartier Horse of the Year honours

Alpha Centauri and jockey Colm O’Donoghue storm home in the G1 Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket. Photo: Mark Cranham/

Thrilling recent performances from Alpha Centauri, Roaring Lion and U.S. Navy Flag have helped strengthen the claims of the 3-year-old crop in the race for top honours in this year’s Cartier Racing Awards, which are the nearest thing in Europe to America’s Eclipse Awards.

The 28th Cartiers, to be presented in London in November, are decided by a combination of points earned by horses in Pattern races (30 percent), the opinions of a panel of racing journalists/handicappers (35 percent) and votes from readers of the Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph plus ITV Racing viewers (35 percent).

Alpha Centauri has taken the lead for both Horse Of The Year and Three-Year-Old Filly honours on Pattern race points after a stunning all-the-way victory in the G1 Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s Moët & Chandon July Festival last Friday.

It was a third consecutive G1 success over a mile for the Niarchos Family-owned filly, who is trained by Jessica Harrington in Ireland, and the talented daughter of Mastercraftsman now looks set to take on colts and older horses for the first time in the G1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois at Deauville on August 12.

The traditional first major G1 clash of the generations, the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park on July 7, saw the classic crop come out on top as Roaring Lion, trained by John Gosden for Qatar Racing, and Saxon Warrior fought out a tremendous finish to the ten-furlong contest, with a neck separating them at the line.

This year’s Coral-Eclipse lost some of its sparkle with the late defection of Investec Derby hero Masar (68), who had Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior in third and fourth when taking the Epsom classic on June 2.

The Godolphin colt will be sidelined for the rest of the 2018 season with a soft-tissue injury, but hopes are high that he will return to action for trainer Charlie Appleby next season.

Coolmore’s 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior has a narrow lead in the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt category, but Masar could still receive the award through panel opinions and public votes at the end of the season.

Last year’s Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt winner U.S. Navy Flag returned to form in tremendous fashion after being dropped back in trip with an all-the-way success over Brando and five other G1 winners in the six-furlong G1 Darley July Cup at the Newmarket July Festival on Saturday.

Coolmore’s 3-year-old War Front colt, trained by Aidan O’Brien like Saxon Warrior, looks set to be kept to sprint distances, with the world’s richest turf race, the Everest at Royal Randwick, on October 13 as a potential target.

O’Brien and Coolmore are also responsible for the current leader in the open-looking Cartier Sprinter category, G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes victor Merchant Navy, who himself is heading out to Australia to take up stud duties.

How they stand on Pattern-race points

Cartier Horse Of The Year
Alpha Centauri 96
Cracksman 88
Laurens  88
Saxon Warrior 80
Roaring Lion 78
Masar 68
Poet's Word 68
Forever Together 64
Stradivarius  64
Waldgeist 56

Cartier Older Horse 
Cracksman 88
Poet's Word 68
Waldgeist 56
Benbatl  54
Thunder Snow 54

Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt
Saxon Warrior 80
Roaring Lion 78
Masar 68
Study Of Man 52
Kew Gardens 48
U S Navy Flag 48
Without Parole 48

Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly
Alpha Centauri 96
Laurens 88
Forever Together 64
Billesdon Brook 48
Athena 32
Teppal 32
Wild Illusion 32

Cartier Sprinter
Merchant Navy 48
Sands Of Mali 40
Blue Point 38
Eqtidaar 36
Battaash 32
Brando 32
U S Navy Flag 32

Cartier Stayer
Stradivarius 64
Vazirabad 55
Marmelo 24
Torcedor 20
Flag Of Honour 16
Kew Gardens 16 

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