Friday, November 05, 2021Contact: Andrew Chesser
Niarchos Family Receives 2021 Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit

The Niarchos family received the 2021 Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit, which recognises distinguished horsemen and horsewomen for lifelong contributions to Thoroughbred racing, at a ceremony Friday, 5 November, in Del Mar during Breeders’ Cup World Championships weekend.

Maria Niarchos-Gouazé accepted the award on behalf of the family, and representatives from both Longines and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), as well as the Breeders’ Cup and The Jockey Club, took part in the celebration.

“On behalf of my brothers and myself, I would like to thank Longines, the IFHA, the Breeders’ Cup, and The Jockey Club for this great honour,” said Niarchos-Gouazé. “I would also like to thank all of our horses, the jockeys who mainly found the winning post, our trainers, our veterinarians and farriers, and all of the individuals who have worked on the studs and in our trainers’ yards.

“In particular, I would like to thank my home team, Alan Cooper and Karen Clark, who have been with us since inception, for their dedication and loyalty, and also Jamie McCalmont and Bill Oppenheim, and those who have worked alongside them. Lastly, and the most deserving of all, I would like to thank my father, Stavros, for his vision.”

As the Official Partner and Official Watch of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), Swiss watchmaker Longines and the IFHA conjointly created the International Award of Merit in 2013 in order to honour public figures for their outstanding contribution to the world of horse racing. Longines is also an Official Partner, the Official Timekeeper, and the Official Watch of the Breeders’ Cup, as well as the title sponsor for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, Turf, and Distaff.

“We are delighted to celebrate tonight the Niarchos family, whose strong commitment and dedication to Thoroughbred racing have been rewarded by so many remarkable successes over the years,” said Matthieu Baumgartner, Longines Vice President Marketing. “The history of the family proves that equestrian sport is one of passion, a passion that Longines has been sharing for a century and a half. Today, we are the partner of some of the major international institutions, including the IFHA, and provide our timekeeping expertise to prestigious events all around the world in the disciplines show jumping, dressage, eventing and of course, horse racing.”

Previous winners of the International Award of Merit include John Messara, the owner and chairman of Arrowfield Stud in Australia; the Magnier family and trainer Aidan O’Brien, the driving forces behind Coolmore and the Ballydoyle Racing Stable in Ireland; Yutaka Take, legendary Japanese jockey; the Romanet family, long renowned leaders in both the French and international world of horseracing; Jim Bolger, leading Irish trainer, owner and breeder; Alec Head, past champion trainer and patriarch of prominent stud farm Haras du Quesnay; Seth Hancock of historic Claiborne Farm in America; and the late Marcel Zarour Atanacio, former chairman of the South American organisation for the promotion of Thoroughbreds (OSAF).

“I would like to congratulate the Niarchos family as this year’s recipient of the Longines and IFHA International Award of Merit,” said IFHA Chair Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. “Reflecting upon the significance and the values associated with this award, I am struck by the level of success achieved by the Niarchos family in nearly every corner of the globe, spanning multiple generations.

“On racetrack achievement alone, the Niarchos family would be worthy recipients of this Award, but their steadfast support of our industry is what sets them apart. Their unwavering partnership and development of international racing and breeding is a special feat, and it must be celebrated.”

The late Stavros Niarchos served as a Greek naval officer in World War II and made his fortune in the shipping business. He first became involved with Thoroughbred racing in the 1950s, took a break, and returned in full force in the 1970s. His first major winner was Pipe of Peace, who won the 1956 Middle Park Stakes.

His daughter Maria took over the family's Thoroughbred business after his death in 1996, and Alan Cooper serves as the family’s racing manager. More than 125 Group or Grade 1 winners have been bred and/or campaigned under their banner, and they have been long-time supporters of the Breeders’ Cup.

The Niarchos family has won seven Breeders’ Cup races with six homebred colts and fillies. Six of those victories have come in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1): Miesque (1987, 1988), Spinning World (1997), Domedriver (2002), Six Perfections (2003), and Karakontie (2014). Additionally, Main Sequence won the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) in 2014. This record as an owner-breeder at the Breeders’ Cup makes the Niarchos family one of the event's most successful participants.

A sampling of other notable international wins for the family as owner or breeder also includes Bago (2004 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe), Divine Proportions (2005 Prix de Diane), Light Shift (2007 English Oaks), Ulysses (2017 Eclipse Stakes and International Stakes, son of Light Shift), Alpha Centauri (2018 Irish Horse of the Year), Study of Man (2018 Prix du Jockey Club), War of Will (2019 Preakness Stakes), and Circus Maximus (2019 St James's Palace Stakes and 2020 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot).

About Longines
Based in Saint-Imier, Switzerland since 1832, Longines watchmakers enjoy an expertise steeped in tradition, elegance and performance. With generations of experience as the official timekeeper for world championships, and as a partner of international sports federations, Longines has created strong and long-lasting relationships in the world of sports, over the years. Known for the elegance of its timepieces, Longines is a member of Swatch Group Ltd., the world’s leading watchmaker. The Longines brand, with its winged hourglass emblem, is established in over 150 countries.

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About IFHA

The IFHA is the global leader for the international sport of Thoroughbred racing, seeking to promote all facets of the worldwide sport; protect the welfare of the equine and human athlete; and protect and grow its global social and economic significance for current and future generations.

Major areas of the IFHA’s activities include:

    • Making and amending the International Agreement on Breeding, Racing and Wagering (the IABRW)
    • Policy development relating to welfare and safety of horses and riders
    • International Race Planning and Grading (“black type”)
    • World Rankings
    • The fight against Equine Prohibited Substances and Practices
    • Harmonization of Racing Rules
    • Certification of IFHA Reference Labs
    • Fostering commercial development of the racing industry globally

The IFHA is a foundation member with Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) of the International Horse Sports Confederation and is affiliated to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

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