Military Attack crowned Horse of the Year in HK

Military Attack gained reward for a brilliant rise to the top when crowned Horse of the Year for the 2012/13 season at The Hong Kong Jockey Club Champion Awards presentation ceremony at Sha Tin racecourse today (July 7). The John Moore-trained five-year-old also took the Champion Middle-distance Horse title and received the public vote as Most Popular Horse of the Year (38 per cent).

With the battle for the trainer’s premiership to be decided at the season’s remaining fixture at Happy Valley on Wednesday 10 July, jockey Douglas Whyte took the plaudits for his phenomenal achievement in being crowned champion jockey for a 13th consecutive season. The South African saw off stiff competition from runner-up Zac Purton and drew clear in the final weeks of the campaign to register 100 wins, 13 clear of his main rival after today’s meeting. Whyte’s 13 straight is a modern day record, and is matched only by the 19th Century English legends Nat Flatman and Fred Archer. Whyte was also named Most Popular Jockey after he garnered 44 per cent of the public vote.

Dicky Lui took the Willy Kan Memorial Cup as Champion Apprentice Jockey with 23 wins to date as his nearest rival Alvin Ng (19 wins) would need four wins from the remaining nine races of 2012/13, to be staged at Happy Valley.

Military Attack’s outstanding season included two Group 1 victories in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup and the Singapore Airlines International Cup. The latter triumph was the first by a Hong Kong horse in Singapore’s flagship contest and marked the first overseas G1 win for the five-year-old’s veteran trainer.

In the course of the season, the Oratorio gelding notched five wins, starting with the January Cup (HKG3-1800m) at Happy Valley in January off a rating of 111, and after claiming the Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup (HKG1-2000m) and Premier Plate (HKG3-1800m) en route to his G1 triumphs he ended 2012/13 on a Hong Kong rating of 132 and 124 in the World Thoroughbred Rankings.

The Tony Millard-trained Ambitious Dragon, Horse of the Year for the previous two seasons, was named Champion Miler. The exceptional six-year-old was defeated three times in the season but was sensational when winning each of his other three starts to also earn a 124 mark in the WTR. After starting the campaign with a win in the Sha Tin Trophy (HKG2-1600m), he saw off an international field to win the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile and was brilliant too in winning the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (HKG1-1400m).

Another popular Hong Kong hero stood out as Champion Stayer. California Memory clinched that title after a commanding win in the Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup (HKG1-2400m), which represented his first attempt beyond 2000m. Tony Cruz’s popular grey had earlier in the season made history as the first horse to win the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) back-to-back and prevailed in the LONGINES Jockey Club Cup (G2-2000m) for good measure.

Lucky Nine’s emphatic win in the G1 KrisFlyer International Sprint (1200m) in Singapore enhanced his wins at home in the Jockey Club Sprint (G2-1200m) and Chairman’s Sprint Prize (HKG1-1200m), and ensured Caspar Fownes’ stable star was awarded the Champion Sprinter crown.

The Dennis Yip-trained All You Wish took the Champion Griffin award. The New Zealand-bred three-year-old won five of six starts at 1200m and 1400m, and was never out of the first two. His final start of the season saw him win the Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association 35th Anniversary Trophy (Handicap) at Sha Tin’s finale.

For the second season in a row, the accolade of Most Admired Overseas Horse went to Australia’s wonder mare Black Caviar with 58,446 (42 per cent) votes from race fans. The brilliant daughter of Bel Esprit reeled off a hat-trick of impressive G1 wins from February to April to end her career unbeaten in 25 starts.

Meanwhile, the 2011/2012 Hong Kong International Sale Bonus of HK$1 million went to the Tony Cruz-trained Bullish Friend. The gelding accumulated stakes money of HK$4,154,500 from his 13 starts with six wins, one second and one third to date.

Most Improved Horse of the Year and Champion Trainer will be awarded at Happy Valley’s season finale on Wednesday, 10 July.

The Judging Panel announced the Champion Awards winners for the 2012/13 season during the final Sha Tin race meeting of the season as follows:-

Horse of the Year/ Most Popular Horse of the Year/ Champion Middle-distance Horse: Military Attack : Mr & Mrs Steven Lo Kit Sing : John Moore

Champion Sprinter : Lucky Nine : Dr Chang Fuk To & Chang Lee Ming Shum : Caspar Fownes

Champion Miler :  Ambitious Dragon :  Johnson Lam Pui Hung & Anderson Lam Hin Yue :  Anthony Millard