Australian wonder mare Winx, San Luis Rey fire survivor Conquest Tsunami, legendary Japanese jockey Yutaka Take, and Royal Ascot-winning trainer Eve Johnson Houghton are on the ballot for the People’s Choice Award, Dubai Racing Club announced Sunday.
Fans can vote through February 28 on the H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum Horseracing Excellence Awards website, which also has further information about the four finalists. The rule is one vote per person, completed only by logging into your Facebook account.
Winx needs no introduction as the world’s top-ranked horse still in training. After racking up an incredible fourth Cox Plate (G1), she extended her winning streak to 30 in her February 16 comeback in the Apollo (G2). The Chris Waller mare became the first international winner of the Secretariat Vox Populi Award, and her global fan base figures to flock to the virtual polls again here.
Conquest Tsunami, briefly thought to have died during the Lilac Fire that devastated the San Luis Rey Training Center, is among the band of survivors who have made a successful return to racing. The Peter Miller trainee won his first two starts in the aftermath, including the Daytona (G3), and finished third in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) on Dubai World Cup night. Conquest Tsunami has since compiled four more graded placings before revisiting the winner’s circle in the January 27 Clocker’s Corner.
Take reached a career milestone last September, becoming the first jockey to score 4,000 wins on the Japan Racing Association circuit. The internationally renowned reinsman has also won notable races in France, England, Dubai, Hong Kong, and the United States. As his 50th birthday approaches on March 15, he just piloted Inti to a terrific front-running victory in last Sunday’s February S. (G1).
Johnson Houghton achieved a memorable success when Accidental Agent upset the Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot. Aside from being a rare Group 1 coup for a woman trainer on the male-dominated British scene, it was a fantastic family story. Accidental Agent is a homebred campaigned by her mother, Gaie, and named in honor of her own father, John Goldmith’s, autobiographical work. Johnson Houghton is the daughter of famed trainer Fulke, whose mother Helen had trained a classic winner in 1956, Gilles de Retz. But Helen was not credited officially with that 2000 Guineas win because women could not get a training license in that era.
Female stars have won the first two People’s Choice Awards, Hong Kong jockey Kei Chiong Ka-kei in 2017 and American champion Lady Eli a year ago. The 2019 People’s Choice winner will be honored at Sheikh Mohammed’s Horseracing Excellence Awards gala on March 28.