The four finalists for the People’s Choice Award at the HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Horseracing Excellence Awards were announced last week by Dubai Racing Club. The award recognises the most compelling moment in horseracing in 2018 and will be presented at HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Horseracing Excellence Awards ceremony on 28 March. The awards night has been scheduled two days before the richest day in global horseracing, the $35 million Dubai World Cup card and voting will take place through 28 February. Since its inception two years ago, the People’s Choice Award has been presented to female rider Kei Chiong Ka-kei, for winning an unprecedented four races on a single card in one of the world’s toughest riding environments Hong Kong.
Last year, the award was won by the team behind Lady Eli, who overcame life-threatening laminitis to become an American champion. This year’s finalists, include the equines Conquest Tsunami and Winx, British trainer Eve Johnson Houghton and Japanese rider Yutaka Take. Conquest Tsunami was one of the names that survived a massive fire that killed 46 horses at San Luis Rey Downs in Southern California and went on to win a Grade Three event in the US before finishing third in last year’s Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on the Dubai World Cup card. If there wasn’t visible proof, Winx’s story would have been hard to believe.
In 2018, the world’s top rated horse in training did the unexpected and won a fourth straight Group 1 Cox Plate beating the likes of 2018 Dubai Turf winner Benbatl among a posse of other big names. The significance of that success was it was her 29th consecutive Group win, 22nd straight Group One success. The 7yo shows no signs of stopping and a fortnight ago turned up winner in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes at Randwick. Leading female trainer in the UK, Houghton’s accomplishments in 2018 include winning the Group 1 Queen Anne stakes with Accidental Agent at Royal Ascot.
In an area dominated by men, she became only the fourth woman to have tasted Group One success and in doing that at the Royal meeting she has well and truly carved a niche for herself. Yutaka Take is a household name not only in Japan but around the world and it is clear to see why. He has won nearly every race there is to win in Japan and 2018 turned sweeter for this legendary rider as he managed to notch his 4,000th career success on his 21,235th career ride.