Balloting for ‘Horse of the Year’ and other awards not based on statistics by a 17-member panel comprising members of the press and Caymanas Track Limited (CTL) officials, is under way and early indications are that the 2015 derby and Diamond Mile winner SEEKING MY DREAM will be crowned ‘Horse of the Year’ by unanimous acclaim. Voting will conclude tomorrow inside the CTL Racing Office at Caymanas Park.Trained by 15-time champion Wayne DaCosta for Member of Parliament Derrick Smith, SEEKING MY DREAM enjoyed a record-breaking season. He won the two richest races on the calendar – the Cal’s Jamaica Derby in June with a purse of $7 million and the inaugural running of the Supreme Ventures Diamond Mile on December 5 which offered a record purse of $13.5 million, both with the season’s leading money-winning rider Omar Walker aboard.Having finished second in the 2000 Guineas, St Leger and CTL Invitational Mile on November 14, SEEKING MY DREAM pushed his 2015 earnings to a record $14.2 million, well clear of stable-companion PERFECT NEIGHBOUR in second with $5.1 million and Superstakes winner FRANFIELD in third with $4.9 million.Bred by Sherman Clachar and Norman Gordon, the chestnut colt by Seeking The Glory out of the 2008 Triple Crown winner and Horse of the Year Alsafra was never worse than second in 10 starts last year – winning five races and finishing second in five as well.SEEKING MY DREAM should also be named champion three-year-old, champion middle-distance performer and champion native-bred horse.hoping for top awardsAs far as DaCosta is concerned, his horses should sweep the top awards. Speaking at Caymanas Park on New Year’s Day, the trainer said:”Seeking My Dream is unchallenged for Horse of the Year, having won the two biggest races on the calendar last year, while Perfect Neighbour who captured important races such as the Gold Cup and Harry Jackson Memorial Cup looks a cinch for first runner up, champion stayer and champion four-year-old and up”, he predicted.”The second runner-up award could be close between my horse Poker Star and the consistent grade-one campaigner Uppa Tune, but Poker Star is a safe bet for champion sprinter and Future King the obvious choice for champion two-year-old,, argued DaCosta.The Horse of the Year Committee will also choose the most improved trainer from a list of four nominees – Harry Parsard (30 wins), Donovan Plummer (19 wins), Marlon Anderson and Neive Graham with 17 wins each as well as most improved jockey from a list comprising Robert Halledeen (72 wins), Paul Francis (52), Shamaree Muir (43), Aaron Chatrie (38) and Jevanne Erwin (36).
A local guide died saving five tourists, including two foreigners, when a boat capsized during rafting in tourist hotspot Pahalgam in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Friday evening.“One raft capsized at the rafting point of Pahalgam’s Mawoora. It was caught in sudden gusty winds,” said Amir Ali, Director of the Disaster Management cell in Kashmir.“All the passengers onboard fell in the fast flowing water of Lidder. The tourist guide, Rouf Ahmed Dar, without caring for his own safety rescued all the tourists but lost his life,” he added.Abandoned searchA search and rescue team, drawn from the State Disaster Response Force, the police and locals, launched an operation on Friday but abandoned it due to darkness.“The body of the brave guide was retrieved on Saturday morning near the Bhawani bridge from the Lidder river,” said Mr. Ali.The body was handed over to his relatives after completion of medico-legal formalities.Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, the Adviser to the Governor, announced that the tourist guide would be awarded posthumously.The family of Dar, a resident of Yeened village of Pahalgam, will also receive ₹2 lakh from the administration. His act of bravery attracted praise from all political parties in the Valley.“My salute to this braveheart Rouf Ahmed Dar. He saved the tourists from his capsized raft but lost his own life in the process. May Allah grant him the highest place in heaven,” said former Chief Minister and National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah.Praise galoreJammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president G.A. Mir described Dar as a “real symbol of Kashmiriyat”.“I urged upon the State government to provide full compensation to the bereaved family to ensure their livelihood,” he said.Sheikh Ashiq, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also praised Dar’s valour.“Adventure tourism has its perils and it is always important to follow proper safety procedures and guidelines while carrying out activities which could endanger human lives,” he said.