Kentucky-bred Roaring Lion secured the 2018 Cartier Horse of the Year award at the 28th annual Cartier Racing Awards Nov. 13 in London.
Bred in Kentucky by Jan Van de Bos Naify's RanJan Racing, Qatar Racing's Roaring Lion won four straight group 1 races in England and Ireland this year to secure the top honour. The 3-year-old son of Kitten's Joy is the first United States-bred horse to be named horse of the year in Europe since Fantastic Light in 2001.
The talented and consistent Roaring Lion is the fourth Cartier Horse of the Year winner in the past five years to be trained by John Gosden at Newmarket, following Kingman (2014), Golden Horn (2015), and Enable (2017).
Purchased as a yearling by Qatar Racing's racing manager David Redvers from Taylor Made Sales Agency's consignment to the 2016 Keeneland September sale for $160,000, Roaring Lion won three straight 1 1/4-mile group 1 tests in the space of just over two months from July to September: the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park, the Juddmonte International at York and the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
Roaring Lion followed up on those wins with a fourth straight group 1 success when dropped down in distance to a mile for the Oct. 20 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes sponsored by QIPCO at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day. He also ran a great race in his only attempt at 1 1/2 miles when a close third behind Masar in the Investec Derby (G1) at Epsom Downs in June, and traveled to the United States for a sporting bid at the Nov. 3 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) on dirt, although he finished last of 14 in that test.
Three of the other four nominations for Cartier Horse of the Year, Enable, Stradivarius, and Cracksman—the 2017 Cartier 3-year-old colt—are also trained by Gosden. The final nomination for Cartier Horse of the Year honours was Alpha Centauri.
Enable, the Cartier Horse of the Year and Cartier 3-year-old filly in 2017, narrowly lost out on becoming the third horse, following Frankel (2011 and 2012) and Ouija Board (2004 and 2006), to become Cartier Horse of the Year twice. But the brilliant filly takes the award for Cartier older horse in 2018. The Khalid Abdullah-owned and bred 4-year-old was on the sidelines for much of the year, but she made a stunning winning reappearance in the group 3 188Bet September Stakes on the all-weather track at Kempton Park.
A month later, the daughter of Nathaniel became the eighth horse to twice win Europe's premier all-aged middle-distance contest, the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1). She created more history as the first horse ever to follow up success in the Longchamp feature with victory in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T) at Churchill Downs.
There is further success for Gosden with Stradivarius, who takes the Cartier stayer award. Owned and bred by Bjorn Nielsen, the 4-year-old Sea The Stars colt went through 2018 unbeaten, with his five victories including the group 1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and group 1 Qatar Goodwood Cup. Other nominees in the Cartier stayer division were Kew Gardens, Holdthasigreen, and Vazirabad.
A record-equaling fifth equine win on the night for Gosden came courtesy of Too Darn Hot, who bagged the Cartier 2-year-old colt award. Lord Lloyd-Webber's homebred son of Dubawi is unbeaten in four outings, ending the campaign with a decisive success in Britain's premier juvenile contest, the group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket in October. Other nominees in the division were Advertise, Quorto, and Ten Sovereigns.
The only other trainer to achieve five equine Cartier Racing Awards in a year is Aidan O'Brien in 2016.
If one horse lit up the summer of 2018, it was Alpha Centauri, who won the Cartier 3-year-old filly award. Trained by Jessica Harrington in Ireland for the Niarchos Family, the daughter of Mastercraftsman won a total of four group races in 2018, beginning with the mile classic, the Tattersalls Irish One Thousand Guineas (G1) in May. She was outstanding at Royal Ascot, taking the Coronation Stakes (G1) by six lengths in course-record time. Another easy success followed when she landed Newmarket's Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes (G1) by 4 1/2 lengths.