Excellent middle-distance performer Poet's Word and top stayer Stradivarius have firmly entered calculations for 2018 Cartier Horse Of The Year honours at this year's Cartier Racing Awards following impressive victories at two of Europe's premier Flat racing meetings.
The 28th Cartier Racing Awards will be presented at a glittering ceremony before an invited audience of 300 at the Dorchester Hotel, London, England, on the evening of Tuesday, November 13th.
There are eight equine awards, ranging from the Cartier Horse Of The Year to the Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt and Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly.
European horse racing's top awards are delivered through a tried and tested combination of points earned by horses in Pattern races (30%), combined at the end of season with the opinions of a panel of racing journalists/handicappers (35%) and votes from readers of Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph plus ITV Racing viewers (35%).
Five-year-old Poet's Word (116) currently heads the standings for both the Cartier Horse Of the Year and Cartier Older Horse categories following a pulsating victory over stable companion Crystal Ocean (56), the pair clear, in the 12-furlong G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the mid-summer European highlight at Ascot on July 28th.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained pair dominated the thrilling finish to the 12-furlong showpiece, with Poet's Word wearing down Crystal Ocean inside the final furlong to prevail by a neck.
Poet's Word, owned by Saeed Suhail, is now unbeaten in three European appearances this season, having also captured the Group 1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, in which he beat Cracksman (88), last year's Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt.
Glorious Goodwood will always be a significant meeting in the context of the awards and this year was no different with a string of top class performances.
Stradivarius (96) won the Group 1 Qatar Goodwood Cup for a second successive year to extend his commanding lead in the Cartier Stayer category. The four-year-old colt stayed on gamely to beat Torcedor (36) by half a length and will collect the inaugural WH Stayers' Million bonus if successful the Group 2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York on August 24th.
Cartier Older Horse contender Lightning Spear (76), representing Qatar Racing, gained a deserved first Group 1 success on his 16th top-level appearance in the Qatar Sussex Stakes, with the David Simcock-trained seven-year-old quickening strongly between horses for a decisive victory over Expert Eye (36).
The meeting's third Group 1 contest saw Godolphin filly Wild Illusion (64) continue a fine year for trainer Charlie Appleby as she made all of the running for an impressive win in the Qatar Nassau Stakes, entering the reckoning for Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly honours in the process.
Group 1 King's Stand Stakes runner-up Battaash (48), trained by Charlie Hills for Hamdan Al Maktoum, returned to his best with a blistering display of power and speed in the meeting's big sprint, the Group 2 King George Qatar Stakes over five furlongs.
The top-rated horse over five furlongs in the world last year, Battaash is joint-top of the Cartier Sprinter standings with the now-retired Merchant Navy and looks set for a mouth-watering showdown with his Royal Ascot conqueror, Godolphin's Blue Point (38), in the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (August 24th) over five furlongs at York's Welcome To Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
York's premier meeting is set to feature more Cartier Racing Awards hopefuls, with Poet's Word set for a fascinating clash against leading three-year-old colts Saxon Warrior (80) and Roaring Lion (78) in the 10-furlong G1 Juddmonte International (August 22), while three-year-old fillies Laurens (88), Forever Together (80) and Sea Of Class (32) could meet in the Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks (August 23th) over 12 furlongs.
More immediately, the hugely impressive Alpha Centauri (96), who leads in the race to be crowned Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly and is joint-second in the Cartier Horse Of The Year standings, takes on the colts for the first time in the Group 1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard Jacques le Marois at Deauville this Sunday.
Cartier Racing Awards - points earned in Pattern races up to and including Sunday, August 5, 2018
Cartier Horse Of The Year
Poet's Word 116
Alpha Centauri 96
Cartier Older Horse
Poet's Word 116
Lightning Spear 76
Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt
Saxon Warrior 80
Roaring Lion 78
Study Of Man 52
Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly
Alpha Centauri 96
Forever Together 80
Wild Illusion 64
Billesdon Brook 48
With You 48
Merchant Navy 48
Sands Of Mali 40
Blue Point 38