Shot Before Dawn
The Players, The Parties
Cartier Racing Awards
To the Dorchester for the 22nd Cartier Racing awards, hosted by Arnaud Bamberger, executive chairman of Cartier UK, François Le Troquer, managing director, and the Hon Harry Herbert, who runs the Highclere racing stud.
Sharing the social turf with the Derby Dinner prior to Derby Day, the Cartier Racing Awards are always an annual highlight of the international racing year with the Dorchester Ballroom transformed into a black-tie version of the Owners and Trainers Paddock at Royal Ascot.
Only more glamorous. The 300 guests included Lord and Lady Lloyd Webber, Andrew Parker-Bowles, Lord Grimthorpe, Mr and Mrs Richard Hughes, Ms Denise Lewis OBE, Mr Barry McGuigan MBS, Mr JP McManus, Dr and Mrs Edwin Moses, Mr and Mrs Anthony Oppenheimer, Mr and Mrs John Oxx, Mr and Mrs Ben Sangster and Willie Carson – who stood about two feet shorter than the aristos, tycoons and racing swells – along with the world's top trainers and jockeys.
One of the things that sets the awards apart from other black tie dinners is that it is one of the few evenings all year that Britain's racing classes actually get to open the safe and wear their serious jewellery.
Unlike other awards dinners where the norm now is to hire (for a large fee) a comedian like Rory Bremner, the Cartier racing awards have Harry Herbert on hand to do the warm-up act prior to Arnaud Bamberger's speech. Once again Harry did not disappoint.
The unique chemistry between Bamberger and Harry (who is Cartier’s racing consultant) makes the event almost like a large Cartier family wedding. In these austere times, it is refreshing that at least one great jewellery brand is still hosting events in London in a style befitting the pre-Credit Crunch ancien regime.
The chic style of the awards - and the quality of the A-list guests - also has everything to do with how Arnaud Bamberger has added much charisma, style and badly needed glamour to the English society season.
The Cartier Racing Awards are the European equivalent of the American Eclipse awards, only the embossed invitations are smarter and the flowers and cuisine at the Dorchester dinner is more sophisticated and the wine list better.
Each table was decorated with a magnificent arrangement by John Carter - stunning Royal Velvet Amaryllis and Ivanhoe Roses, accented with Skimmia, Grand Prix Roses, dark red autumnal hydrangeas, and decorated with grapes and plums.
The wines - personally chosen by Bamberger - were equally memorable. This year the wine to accompany the Fillet of Aberdeen Angus Beef served with Celeriac Puree and Sauce Perigourdine was Chateau de Lisse, Saint Emilion (2007). The dinner began with Truffled Jerusalem Artichoke Risotto served with Domaine Fourrey, Petit Chablis.
For those lucky enough to be invited to the judging lunch (which takes place in the private dining room at Cartier) the quality of the French wine served before the distinguished panel of racing judges get down to business is even better.
The Cartier Daily Telegraph award this year was given to Team Frankel for the unique and remarkable contribution to racing made by the extraordinary racehorse, trained by Sir Henry Cecil and owned by Sheik Mohammed.
In addition, Frankel took home for the second year running the illustrious Horse of the Year accolade, the first time ever in the history of the Awards that a horse has won two years in succession. Frankel also took the prize for Cartier Older Horse.
Other winners included the Australian racemare Black Caviar and Camelot, the best three-year-old in Europe.
CARTIER HORSE OF THE YEAR, 2012 Frankel
CARTIER THREE-YEAR-OLD-FILLY The Fugue
CARTIER THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT Camelot
CARTIER TWO-YEAR-OLD-COLT Dawn Approach
CARTIER TWO-YEAR-OLD-FILLY Certify
CARTIER OLDER HORSE Frankel
CARTIER STAYER AWARD Camelot
CARTIER SPRINTER AWARD Black Caviar
CARTIER DAILY TELEGRAPH AWARD OF MERIT Team Frankel
Photography by Richard Young and Antonia Salgado
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