Champions to be celebrated at Horse of the Year Awards

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  • July 31, 2023
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By Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

As the 2022/2023 season draws to a close, the superstars of New Zealand racing will be acknowledged and celebrated at the prestigious New Zealand Thoroughbred Horse of the Year Awards on September 10.

The black-tie dinner event will be hosted by highly-regarded racing personalities in Jayne Ivil and Michael Guerin, and held at Shed 10 on Queen’s Wharf in Auckland.

The flat-racing finalists were recently announced, and the incredible success of Kiwi horses both domestically and across the ditch in Australia was highlighted in this year’s nominations, particularly in the three-year-old category.

Exceptional three-year-old fillies Legarto, Prowess and Pennyweka joined classy gelding Sharp ’N’ Smart in taking out trans-Tasman group ones this season and were nominated for Champion Three-Year-Old alongside New Zealand Gr.1 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner Pier. 

The two-year-old crop produced a strong contingent this season, with Group One winners Ulanova and Pignan joined by fellow stakes winning Te Akau trio Tokyo Tycoon, Trobriand and Zourion all vying for top honours as Champion Two-Year-Old.

A competitive and class-ridden Champion Sprinter-Miler category includes A$1m Gr.1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) winner Imperatriz and A$1m Australian Guineas (1600m) winner Legarto, joined by glamour mares Levante and La Crique alongside Prise de Fer and He’s a Doozy, the latter four all recording respective group one wins on New Zealand shores.

Three-year-old dominance in the elite domestic middle-distance races this season saw Kingsclere Stables’ Prowess better her older counterparts the Gr.1 Bonecrusher Stakes (2050m) after Team Rogerson’s Sharp ’N’ Smart took out the Gr.1 Herbie Dyke Stakes (2000m) to add to their respective middle-distance Australian group ones, seeing both also nominated for the Champion Middle Distance Horse.

Joining the young stars in this category are Gr.1 Livamol Classic (2040m) victor Mustang Valley and impressive eight-year-old Defibrillate, who returned from campaigning in Australia last season to win the Gr.1 Zabeel Classic (2050m) on Boxing Day.

The Champion Stayer category emulates the toughest of New Zealand’s elite talent, including Jim Wallace’s Pennyweka doing the New Zealand/Australian Oaks double over 2400m, and Sharp ’N’ Smart once again featuring after his victory in the ATR New Zealand Derby (2400m).

Fellow top-level stayers include Auckland Cup (3200m) winner Platinum Invador, Avondale Cup (2400m) winner Aquacade and Queen Elizabeth ll Cup (2400m) winner Dionysus were also successful nominees.

Each of the winners in these categories will be eligible for the coveted SENZ Horse of the Year title, a prestigious award with a rich history of past winners, including Probabeel, Melody Belle, Bonneval, Mongolian Khan and Dundeel.

Another key drawcard announced for this year’s awards is the Entain Australia and New Zealand Stablehand of the Year award, with an incredible prize on offer for the winner sponsored by Entain.

The winning stablehand nominated by their respective trainer will receive a remarkable trip for two to The Everest held at Royal Randwick Racecourse in October, a prize that will include flights, two nights’ accommodation and a full hospitality package.  

In addition to the main purse, the individual winner in each of the major regions (Northern, Central and Southern) will receive $2500 in prizemoney, as well as flights, accommodation and tickets to the Awards evening courtesy of Entain. – LOVERACING.NZ News Desk

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