Best of European Racing Honored at Two Ceremonies

European racing continued to honor the stars of 2005, as the second and third major award ceremonies of the year, following on from last month's Cartier Racing Awards, took place in London, England.

Sergeant Cecil received the highest accolade at the Racehorse Owners' Association Awards on the evening of Dec. 8, gaining the coveted Horse of the Year title, voted for by the readers of the Racing Post newspaper and members of the ROA, after a unique trio of valuable long-distance handicap victories.

The Rod Millman-trained 6-year-old King's Signet gelding won the Northumberland Plate, Ebor Handicap and Cesarewitch under Epsom Derby-winning jockey Alan Munro.

Despite racing below the top grade, Sergeant Cecil was rewarded for being the first horse to capture the three handicaps in the same season. The historic contests range in distance from 1 3/4 miles to the 2 1/4 miles of the 34-runner Cesarewitch.

Hurricane Run -- trained in France by Andre Fabre -- was named by the ROA as the outstanding 3-year-old colt after landing the Irish Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, both group I, while the Pascal Bary-trained Divine Proportions took the fillies' equivalent.

The Aga Khan's Azamour, winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Eng-I) and third on his final start in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr IT), was selected as top older horse.

The unbeaten Sir Percy was unveiled as top 2-year-old colt, while the Aidan O'Brien-trained Rumplestiltskin took the 2-year-old filly honor.

These awards followed rapidly on the heels of the Horserace Writers and Photographer Association's 39th Derby Awards luncheon held Dec. 5 in London.

The HWPA Derby Awards honor the best of horseracing's achievers, and an audience of 700 witnessed Jamie Spencer receive the jockey of the year award for his championship season.

Michael Bell was named the trainer of the year accolades thanks to his handling of Epsom Derby-winner Motivator.

Andrew Balding received the international trainer prize after a fruitful 12 months overseas with Phoenix Reach, successful in group 1 contests in Hong Kong and Dubai.

The president's trophy went to 82-year-old trainer Reg Hollinshead, who has sent out 1,300 winners since taking out a license in 1949 as well as producing top jockeys from his Staffordshire base, including the former champion Kevin Darley and Walter Swinburn.

Lord Derby presented the much-coveted journalist of the year award to Richard Edmondson of the London newspaper, The Independent.

Edmondson is a previous winner of the Joe Hirsch Breeders' Cup Newspaper Writing Award. Photographer of the year went to Bill Selwyn.