The five elite equine athletes in contention for the Victorian Racehorse of the Year Award have been revealed by Racing Victoria (RV) ahead of the 2020 Victorian Racing Awards which will be presented live and free-to-air by Racing.com on Wednesday, 26 August at 7.30pm (AET).
Australian Guineas winner Alligator Blood, dual Group 1 winner Loving Gaby, Japanese superstar Lys Gracieux, Australia’s fastest horse Nature Strip and Lexus Melbourne Cup hero Vow and Declare are all in the running to claim the coveted title which has been won for the past three years by Winx.
All horses are judged on their performances on Victorian tracks only across the 2019-20 racing season, irrespective of where they are trained. The five finalists received the most votes from the 50-strong voting panel, comprising members of the racing media, RV handicapping panel and Chairman of Stewards.
Alligator Blood’s 2019 Victorian spring campaign was both rewarding and agonising for trainer David Vandyke and jockey Ryan Maloney as they combined to win the Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude and finish a close second behind Super Seth in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas two weeks later. The popular three-year-old gelding continued his great form into the summer, winning the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes and the Group 1 Australian Guineas at Flemington.
Loving Gaby cemented her standing as one of the country’s best sprinters following dual Group 1 victories at The Valley in the Manikato Stakes and the William Reid Stakes. The Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace-trained mare also placed in three Victorian Group 1s across the 2019/20 season, the Darley Sprint Classic, the Black Caviar Lightning and the Newmarket Handicap all at Flemington.
Lys Gracieux brought her best international form to claim Australia’s weight-for-age championship, the Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate. The brilliant mare, who was named Japanese Horse of the Year in January, was ridden beautifully by Damien Lane for trainer Yoshito Yahagi to prove victorious at her only Victorian start.
Sprinting sensation Nature Strip was another to claim two Victorian Group 1s in the 2019/20 season. The flying five-year-old gelding trained by Chris Waller was too good in the $1 million Moir Stakes at The Valley in September and continued his elite form later that Spring winning the $2 million Darley Sprint Classic at Flemington on Stakes Day.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Australian owned, bred and trained Vow and Declare who was victorious in ‘the race that stops a nation’TM delivering champion hoop Craig Wiliams and trainer Danny O’Brien their first wins in the country’s most prestigious race, the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
The four-year-old gelding brought great form into the first Tuesday of November, after coming second in the Stella Artois Caulfield Cup behind Japanese raider Mer De Glace and a gallant fourth in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes. He returned for one Victorian run in the autumn finishing third in the Group 1 Australian Cup.
Wednesday’s broadcast will also feature 12 other awards highlighted by the Scobie Breasley Medal, the Tommy Corrigan Medal and the Fred Hoysted Medal.
The following 10 jockeys are those in contention to take home the Scobie Breasley Medal which recognises excellence in riding during the metropolitan flat racing season as voted by the panel of RV Stewards:
- Dwayne Dunn
- Jamie Kah
- Damian Lane
- Jye McNeil
- Ben Melham
- Jamie Mott
- Damien Oliver
- Michael Poy
- Daniel Stackhouse
- Craig Williams
Will Gordon, Darryl Horner (Jnr), Lee Horner, Shane Jackson, Steven Pateman, Tom Ryan and Ronan Short are those leading the running to receive the Tommy Corrigan Medal, which is awarded to the leading jumps jockey of the season in Victoria and South Australia as voted by the RV and Thoroughbred Racing South Australia (TRSA) Stewards.
With a physical event not possible due to the impacts of COVID-19, the broadcast enables all within the industry to celebrate the successes of the 2019/20 season from the comforts of their home, with many of the award winners interviewed by the Racing.com team on the night.
Industry participants are being encouraged to dress for the occasion and engage with the broadcast by posting images of their ‘at home’ celebration to social media with the hashtag #vicracingawards.