THE WONDERFUL Almond Eye was crowned Japan's 2020 Horse of the Year with the dazzling mare attracting 236 of the 283 votes cast for the prestigious title. The nation's awards are determined by the votes of 283 horse racing journalists, and in the Horse of the Year category, the vast majority went for the record breaking mare, whose year, and career, was topped by a second victory in the Japan Cup in November.
Almond Eye was retired from racing after becoming the first horse in Japanese history to win nine Grade Ones on turf. Triple Crown hero Contrail started second favourite for the Japan Cup behind market leader Almond Eye. He finished runnerup to her there and occupied the same berth in the Horse of the Year stakes, with 44 votes.
Superstar miler Gran Alegria, who won three Grade Ones in 2020, received two votes, while the fillies' Triple Crown heroine Daring Tact, who was third in the Japan Cup, received one. Masashi Yonemoto of Silk Racing, owners of Almond Eye, said: “First of all, I am very honoured to have been selected for the prestigious Horse of the Year title.
I would like to thank all the people involved in this horse, including the Kunieda stable and Northern Farm staff. “She has retired safely and has started her new career as a broodmare, so please continue to support her as her children make their debuts.” Trainer Sakae Kunieda added: “Last year she won three Grade One races, finishing her career while maintaining her brilliance.
All I can say is thank you to Almond Eye. I think it was thanks to the support of the owners, breeders and fans that we were able to win the Horse of the Year award.” Her regular jockey, Christophe Lemaire, who had a spectacular 2020 himself, continued: “She was strong last year. She showed high potential from the age of two and worked hard up to and including her last run.
I'm glad that she ran safely to the end and retired. “She is an unforgettable horse for me. I was happy to be able to ride her for three years, and am looking forward to seeing her babies.”