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New Zealand

Sharp ‘N’ Smart becomes first male galloper since 2016 to win Horse of the Year title

Star three-year-old Sharp ‘N’ Smart has become the first male galloper since 2016 to earn the Horse of the Year title.

The Waikato galloper, who gained the top honour by a narrow margin, ended a run of six successive triumphs for either fillies or mares.

Sharp ‘N’ Smart, who won three Group 1 races over the season and earned more than $3 million in stakes, had impressive credentials but there was no lack of contenders for the major trophy, following a vintage season for New Zealand gallopers.

Sharp ‘N’ Smart edged out top mare Imperatriz by two votes, with five other horses receiving at least one of the 58 votes cast for Horse of the Year.

The Horse of the Year title has existed since 1971 and the only smaller winning margin in recent years was when Mongolian Khan took the 2016 Horse of the Year title by a single vote, from stable-mate Turn Me Loose.

Between them, Sharp ‘N’ Smart and Imperatriz attracted 79 percent of the votes this year, with Prowess the next most popular, with eight votes.

Leading commentator George Simon, who has had a variety of roles within the industry, received the prestigious NZTR Outstanding Contribution to Racing Award and New Zealand Bloodstock’s Mike Kneebone, who has played a key role in attracting overseas buyers to the Karaka horse sales, was recognised with the NZTR Outstanding Global Achievement Award.

Sharp ‘N’ Smart, who is trained by Graeme and Debbie Rogerson, was at the head of what could prove to be a golden crop of three-year-olds and his contemporaries Prowess, Legarto and Pennyweka also won Group One races in New Zealand and Australia.

Sharp ‘N’ Smart was also named Champion Three-Year-Old, while Prowess won the Champion Middle-Distance Horse category and Pennyweka claimed Champion stayer, with Sharp ‘N’ Smart the runner-up in the latter two categories.

Imperatriz, who was a Group 2 winner in Melbourne at the weekend, dominated the voting for Champion Sprinter-Miler and her stable-mate Tokyo Tycoon won the Champion Two-year-old category by a wide margin. West Coast, who was unbeaten over fences in the season, was Champion Jumper.

Mark Walker, who broke most domestic training records during the season, was Trainer of the Year and Michael McNab retained his Jockey of the Year title. Shaun Fannin won Jumps Jockey of the Year for a fourth time.

Ancroft Stud principals Catherine and Phillip Brown, who are the majority shareholders in the multiple Group 1 winners Legarto and Levante, were named Owners of the Year. Their only other runner was three-year-old Adam I Am, who ran third at his only start.

Legarto and Levante recorded seven wins and four placings from 13 attempts, including four Group 1 wins, and earned more than $1.7 million in stakes. There was further recognition for their connections on Sunday night, with strapper Megan Winter named Stablehand of the Year and trainers Bev and Ken Kelso were finalists for Trainer of the Year.

Sharp ‘N’ Smart had a near perfect season with five wins, two seconds and a fourth from eight starts and displayed all the hallmarks of an outstanding New Zealand thoroughbred. He was both talented and durable and won over a variety of distances and tracks.

Six of his eight starts were in Group 1 races and he defeated the best of his age on both sides of the Tasman, in addition to winning the Herbie Dyke Stakes, New Zealand’s richest weight-for-age race.

He was a Group winner at 1600m and a Group 1 winner at 2000m and 2400m and won on good, soft, and heavy tracks.

He won the Group 1 Champion Stakes in Sydney and competed with distinction in the three major Derby races in Australasia, winning the New Zealand Derby, running second in the Victoria Derby and fourth in the Australian Derby.

It is a treble that few take on and Sharp ‘N’ Smart was the first since Monaco Consul in the 2009-10 season. Monaco Consul won the Victoria Derby and ran third in the AJC Derby but failed in the NZ equivalent.

Sharp ‘N’ Smart, a Redwood gelding, was a $55,000 buy for Graeme Rogerson as a yearling and, fortunately for his connections, failed to make his $90,000 reserve when offered at the Horses In Training sale as a two-year-old.

Rogerson remains a part-owner, as is the horse’s breeder, Gerry Harvey, along with Merv and Meg Butterworth, Todd Bawden, Craig Leishman, and Martin Waddy.


Jockeys’ Premiership: Michael McNab.

Trainers’ Premiership: Mark Walker.

Apprentice Jockeys’ Premiership: Tayla Mitchell.

Owners’ Premiership: Brendan & Jo Lindsay.

Newcomer To Training: Shaun Phelan.

Contribution to Media, Digital & Content: Jones Road Productions.

New Zealand Bloodstock Filly of the Year: Legarto.

Champion Two-Year-Old: Tokyo Tycoon (45).

Champion Three-Year-Old – Sponsored by IRT: Sharp ‘N’ Smart (33).

Champion Sprinter-Miler (up to 1600m): Imperatriz (56).

Champion Middle Distance Horse (1601m-2200m): Prowess (40), Sharp ‘N’ Smart (20), Defibrillate, Mustang Valley.

Champion Stayer (2201m & further): Pennyweka (29).

Champion Jumper: West Coast (41).

Stablehand of the Year: Megan Winter (northern area, employed by Ken & Bev Kelso).

Jockey of the Year: Michael McNab (48).

Jumps Jockey of the Year: Shaun Fannin (56).

Trainer of the Year: Mark Walker (53).

Owner of the Year: Catherine & Phillip Brown (36).

NZTR Award for Outstanding Contribution to Racing: George Simon.

NZTR Award for Outstanding Global Achievement: Mike Kneebone.

Horse of the Year: Sharp ‘N’ Smart (24 votes)

https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/racing/300967908/sharp-n-smart-becomes-first-male-galloper-since-2016-to-win-horse-of-the-year-title.html Sharp ‘N’ Smart becomes first male galloper since 2016 to win Horse of the Year title

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