Two Irish foaled horses were honoured with a prestigious Eclipse Award in America last week. Cape Blanco (IRE) was named America’s champion turf performer while Black Jack Blues (IRE) was voted champion jumps horse for the 2011 season at the ceremony held in Los Angeles last Monday. Cape Blanco joins a select list of Ballydoyle trained horses to have won Eclipse Awards following Johannesburg, champion two-year-old in 2001, and High Chaparral, top turf performer in 2002-03. Among the horses Cape Blanco defeated in voting for the Eclipse was his stable-mate St Nicholas Abbey (IRE), who won the Breeders' Cup Turf. By that time, Cape Blanco had been retired after sustaining an injury in a hard-fought victory in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park in October. That race was the final leg of a memorable Grade 1 hat-trick in the States for Cape Blanco during his four-year-old season after successes in the Man O’War Stakes, also at Belmont, and the Arlington Million.
Eclipse Awards are determined by votes from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association. Accepting the award, Coolmore spokesman Dermot Ryan said: “On behalf of all the owners of Cape Blanco, I would like to thank all of those who voted for him - I commend them on their good judgement! Cape Blanco is a very special horse by a very special sire in Galileo. He made more transatlantic flights in 2011 than many people make in a lifetime. And every time he came here, he got the job done, twice defeating a great champion himself in Gio Ponti.”
Champion jumps horse Black Jack Blues earned his title after winning the American Grand National Hurdle (former Breeders' Cup Chase) under Irish rider Ross Geraghty on his second US outing at Far Hills in New Jersey in October. Black Jack Blues is a son of Definite Article who stands at the O’Callaghan Family’s Morristown Lattin Stud was a multiple winner in Britain for former trainer Rebecca Curtis, scoring over hurdles, fences and in bumpers in eight successes before being sold to the States.