The Flat season came to a close in Leopardstown yesterday with Mrs Jackie Bolger crowned Champion Owner, breaking the 14-year domination of the owners' championship held by the Magnier, Tabor and Smith triumvirate. The climax of the season for Mrs Bolger came when Kevin Manning won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on the home-bred Trading Leather, which was trained by her husband Jim.
Winning his 18
Champion Trainer title, Aidan O'Brien had 135 winners for the season, which is the highest total for an Irish trainer in the last 20 years. This total includes 95 individual winning horses, which alone would have been enough to ensure he was leading trainer in 12 of the 13 championships since 2000.
Joseph O'Brien earned his second consecutive Champion Jockey title after a record-breaking season that saw him beat Michael Kinane's long-standing record for the number of winners in a season with a total of 126. In doing so he has also registered the highest winning percentage of any champion jockey since 2000 at 28%. A highlight for Joseph this year was winning his third Abu Dhabi Irish 2000 Guineas in a row.
Having signed up as an apprentice with David Wachman last year, 17-year old Connor King, a Leaving Certificate student from Co. Cork, has been the riding sensation of 2013 with 38 winners to his credit, saw him crowned Champion Apprentice. His nearest competitor was Colin Keane on 35 wins, who has also had an excellent season. Connor enjoyed an unforgettable day at Cork in early August when he partnered four winners including Royal Blue Star in the Listed Platinum Stakes. He has made remarkable progress, having had his first and only ride in the previous Turf Flat season in October 2012, which was a winner.
The 2013 Flat Champions received custom-made perpetual Irish silver trophies, presented by Michael O'Rourke, HRI Director of Marketing and Communications, in the parade ring at Leopardstown. Aidan and Joseph O'Brien were represented by Head Lad TJ Comerford, as they were in Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup.
Michael O'Rourke, HRI Director of Marketing and Communications said: "Well done to all of today's Flat champions. Ireland is renowned worldwide for its racing prowess and it gave me great pleasure to recognise some of that talent at Leopardstown. It has been another excellent year for both Aidan and Joseph O'Brien, both continuing to break records and surpass the highest of expectations. Mrs Bolger is a much-valued contributor to the Irish racing industry and very deserving of the Champion Owner title, while Connor King has been the real talking-point of the tracks this year and a hugely exciting talent for the years ahead."