2021 People’s Choice Award
Nominees Announced

Dubai Racing Club has announced the four finalists for the People’s Choice Award, and as the name suggests, fans will vote to decide the winner of this accolade which recognises the most compelling moment in horseracing worldwide since the 2019 Dubai World Cup. It is a part of the HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Horse Racing Excellence Awards, inaugurated in 2017, with Hong Kong female jockey Kei Chiong Ka-kei, winning the first award in this category for her record four race wins on one day. In 2018 Lady Eli was the most popular among fans, for her miraculous recovery from a life-threatening condition and her remarkable courage allowing her to become an American champion. Australian superstar mare Winx was the most recent awardee in 2019, a crowd favourite, and among the many highlights earning her the nomination and award with a record four consecutive wins in the Cox Plate.



When 24-year-old British jockey Hollie Doyle was named third in the 2020 edition of BBC’s Sport Personality of The Year, she emulated a feat accomplished by the legendary Frankie Dettori and placed horse racing firmly in the spotlight. The award put her in the company of sporting legends like Formula One- star Lewis Hamilton and football icon Jordan Henderson. It was a result of Doyle’s very impressive list of extraordinary achievements in 2020.  Riding five winners in one afternoon, a victory at Royal Ascot with G1 success on British Champions’ Day, becoming the first woman to ride a winner at the International Jockeys' Championship in Hong Kong and her record-breaking 151 wins, with 373 podium finishes are just some excerpts from Doyle’s remarkable year. In winning the award she also made a very important announcement to the world – that she had achieved success as an outstanding jockey, rather than a woman jockey. Having learned to ride on a pony at a young age, Doyle claims “I sat on a horse before I could even walk!". Both her parents Mark and Caroline were jockeys, which meant Hollie was immersed in the sport from the very beginning, going on to attain unprecedented success through dedication and hard work. One of the fittest jockeys on the circuit, amongst both men and women, Doyle is now a regular on the international arena, having earned a ride on the Breeders Cup card, Team Deirdre (Japan) called upon her services at the Bahrain International Trophy and she made history in Hong Kong, finishing third in the International Jockeys’ Championship. Famous for her work ethic and relentless pursuit of excellence Hollie Doyle was named 2020 Sunday Times Sportswoman of The Year and HWPA Jockey of The Year in Britain, where many are of the opinion it is only a matter of time before she becomes the country’s first female champion.


Part-time horse trainer Timo Keersmaekers would spend an average of 70 days on the road as a successful tableware businessman based out of Antwerp. The Covid-19 Pandemic forced the Belgian, to cut down his travel, and instead focus on his modest stable housing just eight horses, one of whom was about to take him on a journey of a lifetime. The main protagonist of this fascinating tale is Messi, an 8-year-old Purebred Arabian – who emerged as Keersmaekers’ best racing prospect in the yard, winning back-to-back races in Belgium and Germany in mid-2020, beating serious global superstars, culminating in victory in the richest Arab Race in Abu Dhabi – the $US 1.9 million, 2200m Group 1 Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Jewel Crown. Messi’s victory made headlines across the world, as this small-time operation drew kudos from the global media. A feel-good story emerging out of the often-tragic Covid-19 experience. Owned and bred by Keersmaekers, Messi began showing signs of his potential, and the ‘full extent of his speed’ through a winning streak in Belgium and Germany, twice accounting for top-rated Saudi star Mashhur Al Khalediah including in the United Arab Emirates President Cup Listed Stakes.  Keersmaekers decided it was time to take the show on the road to France, entering Messi for the prestigious G1 Qatar Arabian World Cup at the Longchamp racecourse in October. Messi finished a close second, and this was enough to inspire Keersmaekers’ decision to travel to Abu Dhabi, where Messi reached the pinnacle of his career.

Source: Media Department, Dubai Racing Club

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