Admire MoonAdmire Moon (Vanessa Ng)Japan’s late-blooming colt triple Group One winner Admire Moon, has been announced the Japan Racing Association’s Horse of the Year for 2007, as well as Best Older Colt or Horse.

In addition to receiving 178 out of 289 possible votes for Horse of the Year, the recent Darley Stud recruit also collected an overwhelming 249 votes for Best Older Colt or Horse.

The End Sweep colt, who came on strong late in his three-year-old season in 2006, matured as a first-class winner in his final season of racing. After scoring his first Group-One victory overseas in the UAE’s Dubai Duty Free, he returned home and triumphed in two more prestigious races, the Takarazuka Kinen (Gr1) and Japan Cup (Gr1), capping off a spectacular season that distinguished him from the rest of the field.

Daiwa Scarlet, second in line for Horse of the Year but more than 100 votes behind Admire Moon, was named Best Three-Year-Old Filly. Together with her main rival, Vodka, the two fillies set high standards for three-year-old fillies in 2007.

Daiwa Scarlet claimed most of the Group One events for fillies and mares, and also proved herself in Group One competition against older mixed fields, while Vodka bested the top middle-distance male three-year-olds to become the first filly in 64 years to claim the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby).

The Special Award was presented both to Vodka and Meisho Samson, the latter making history by claiming the Tenno Sho Spring (Gr1) and Tenno Sho Autumn (Gr1) in the same year, only the fourth horse in JRA history to claim this accomplishment, along with Tamamo Cross (1988), Special Week (1999) and T M Opera O (2000).

Daiwa Major, winner of the Yasuda Kinen (Gr1) and Mile Championship (Gr1), won Best Sprinter or Miler for the second year in a row, earning a commanding 234 votes. Other awardees, also selected by wide margins, include Goshawk Ken (Best Two-Year-Old Colt), Tall Poppy, (Best Two-Year-Old Filly), Vermilion (Best Dirt Horse) and Merci A Time (Best Steeplechase Horse).

Eight out of 11 awards presented to horses this year were won by vote totals exceeding 200. The only marginally close vote was for Best Horse by Home-Bred Sire, in which Daiwa Scarlet and Vodka each attracted over 100 votes, with Daiwa Scarlet winning by 40 votes.

Much-awarded trainer Kazuo Fujisawa returned to primacy for most races won, his first championship since 2004 but eleventh overall, while Hideaki Fujiwara won his first JRA Award in his sixth season as a trainer. Hiroyoshi Matsuda, who saddled Admire Moon to success, claimed titles for money earned and training technique.

Superstar jockey Yutaka Take turned in another historic season, first by surpassing Yukio Okabe’s all-time record of 2,943 career wins and then by reaching the unprecedented milestone of 3,000 wins in November. These feats, along with champion jockey titles for wins and money earned, brought him a Special Award, given to only three other jockeys in the past. Take also continued his streak of at least one JRA award every year since being named Best Newcomer Jockey in 1987. Katsumi Ando led the field with highest winning average.

The Equine Culture Award, which recognizes noteworthy achievements and contributions to Japanese equine culture, was presented for two publications: MANDALA OF EQUUS by Rikako Kimura and Outstanding Horseshoeing Techniques of Soh Nishiuchi-Charismatic Farrier by Tetsu Josaki.

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