zarkava and christophe soumillonZarkava with Christophe Soumillon aboard
(Photo : APRH)

The unbeaten star filly Zarkava (Zamindar) was named Horse of The Year last night at the 2008 Cartier Racing Awards.

Europe’s equivalent of the Eclipse Awards were presented at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, in front of an invited audience made up of leading owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders, racing personalities and the media.

Homebred by her owner, His Highness The Aga Khan, Zarkava won all five of her starts in 2008 to add to her two from two record as a juvenile. Showing tremendous versatility over distances from a mile to twelve furlongs, she captured two Classics, the Prix Vermeille and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, in which she overcame the best middle-distance performers in Europe to register a stunning two length victory.

In Horse of The Year category, Zarkava came out ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Raven’s Pass (Elusive Quality), Epsom Derby victor New Approach (Galileo), five-time Gr.1 scorer Duke of Marmalade (Danehill) and dual Guineas winner Henrythenavigator (Kingmambo), who won 18 Gr.1 races between them this year. She also took the honours in the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly division.

Princess Haya’s New Approach prevailed over Raven’s Pass in the Three-Year-Old Colt category, gaining his second consecutive Cartier Award, having taken the Two-Year-Old Colt Award twelve months ago.

This year’s Two-Year-Old Colt Award went right down to the wire with dual Gr.1 victor Mastercraftsman (Danehill Dancer) pipping the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Donativum (Cadeaux Genereux),

The Two-Year-Old Fillies’ category went to John Gosden-trained Rainbow View (Dynaformer).

Heading the Older Horses was Aidan O’Brien’s Duke of Marmalade (Danehill), ahead of Marchand D’Or (Marchand De Sable), Yeats (Sadler’s Wells), Youmzain (Sinndar) and Darjina (Zamindar).

There was further glory for the Ballydoyle stable with Yeats, brother to Summerhill stallion Solskjaer, taking the Cartier Champion Stayer title for the third consecutive year.

Meanwhile, the Freddie Head-trained Marchand d’Or prevailed in the race for Cartier Champion Sprinter honours.

Sheikh Mohammed, described as racing’s biggest investor and benefactor, was voted the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit winner. Although unable to attend the Cartier Racing Awards ceremony in London, Sheikh Mohammed was presented with his award in Dubai beforehand by Arnaud Bamberger, the Cartier UK managing director.

On his acceptance of the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award of Merit, Sheikh Mohammed said: “I am delighted by this award. I love racing and breeding. We race not only in England and Europe as Godolphin is all round the world. I am very, very pleased with my racing company and my breeding operation. I love racing and I will always be involved in the sport. Thank you very much.”