Hong Kong Awards

Triple Group One winner Ambitious Dragon was crowned Horse of the Year for the 2010/2011 season at the Hong Kong Jockey Club Champion Awards presentation ceremony during the final race meeting of the season at Sha Tin racecourse today (July 10). The four-year-old gelding also claimed the titles of Champion Middle-distance Horse and The Most Improved Horse. In addition, he was voted Most Popular Horse of the Year by members of the public.

The battle for the trainer’s premiership was no doubt the most attractive aspect of the season finale. John Moore, who was still two winners behind the leader Tony Cruz at the start of today’s races, dramatically captured four wins between Race 6 and 10 to surpass Cruz by 74 wins in total against the latter’s 72, regaining the Champion Trainer title for the first time since the 1994/95 season.

The greatest achievements of Ambitious Dragon included successes in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Classic Cup (HK G1-1800m), Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby 2011 (HK G1-2000m) and Audemars Piguet QE II Cup (G1-2000m).

In the course of the season, the Tony Millard-trained son of Pins claimed seven victories in total, thereby equalling the Hong Kong record set by Entrapment last season, and in rising from Class 4 to G1 in his second racing season earned The Most Improved Horse title with an increase of 68 rating points (57 to 125).

The Tony Cruz-trained Beauty Flash was named Champion Miler. The five-year-old won the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile (G1-1600m), followed by dual HK G1 victories in the Stewards’ Cup (1600m), first leg of the Triple Crown Series, and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m), the final leg of Hong Kong Speed Series.

The Ricky Yiu-trained Sacred Kingdom earned the title of Champion Sprinter for the fourth year in succession. Last  season’s Horse of the Year survived  a life-threatening  colic attack in March last year but  returned to the winner’s circle after his comeback race when  landing the Sha Tin Sprint Trophy (HK G3-1000m) on  National Day last October before repeating his success in the Kent & Curwen Centenary Sprint Cup (HK G1-1000m) in January this year. At the International meeting on 12 December the seven-year-old made a valiant attempt to retain his Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint crown when beaten less than a length by overseas horses JJ The Jet Plane and Rocket Man in the season’s most prestigious 1200m event.

The Champion Stayer title went to the John Moore-trained Mighty High. The five-year old, who was imported from France last season, further underlined  his class  by claiming the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup, the most important local Group One event over 2400 metres.

Bear Hero from David Ferraris Stable was chosen as Champion Griffin. The Australia-bred two-year-old bay colt won his only three races this season, all of them on the Sha Tin straight course. He was a very easy winner of his first and second griffin outings before landing the Hong Kong Jockey Club Community Trophy, a Class Three competition.

Rocket Man, trained by the Singapore based Patrick Shaw, was elected the inaugural Most Admired Overseas Horse of the Year with 75,522 votes. The newly added category has proved as popular as the traditional votings for the Most Popular Horse and Jockey with a total of 217, 637 votes received. The Singapore hero won the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) and the KrisFlyer International Sprint (G1) witnessed by local racing fans watching the overseas races simulcast and in Hong Kong deadheated for first place in the G2 CX Jockey Club Sprint before running second in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint itself.

On the jockeys’ side, Douglas Whyte collected the jockeys’ premiership for the eleventh consecutive year with 96 wins. He was also elected Most Popular Jockey of the Year for the sixth time with 103,913 votes.

Vincent Ho became Champion Apprentice Jockey for the first time in his second Hong Kong riding season with 39 wins.

Between 15 June and 30 June members of the public cast a record total of 663,030 votes to elect the Most Popular Horse, Most Popular Jockey and Most Admired Overseas Horse of the Year, an increase of 89% over last season’s total (350,146 votes) for the Most Popular Horse and Jockey elections.

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