The winners of the 2015 Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) Awards were announced at Leopardstown Racecourse today, at a reception attended by many of the industry's leading trainers, jockeys and owners. Guest of honour was Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food, the Marine and Defence, Tom Hayes TD and guests were welcomed by Chairman of HRI, Joe Keeling.
The winners at the 13
annual awards ceremony were as follows:
- Horse of the Year Award: Don Cossack and Faugheen (joint)
- National Hunt Award: Willie Mullins
- Flat Award: Pat Smullen
- Contribution to Industry Award: Des Scahill
- Outstanding Achievement Award: Jonathan Burke
- Point-To-Point Award: Enda Bolger
- Racecourse of the Year Award: Leopardstown
Gordon Elliott's stable star Don Cossack and Faugheen, trained by Willie Mullins, were the first joint winners of the Horse of the Year Award . Gigginstown House Stud, owner of Don Cossack, was represented by Eddie O'Leary, while Rich Ricci collected the award on behalf of his wife Susannah, who owns Faugheen.
The National Hunt Award went to Champion Trainer Willie Mullins, who had another hugely successful season with a record-breaking eight winners at the Cheltenham Festival, ten Grade 1 wins at the Punchestown Festival and 30 successes worldwide at the highest level.
Pat Smullen received his first Flat Award after a fine season that saw him crowned champion jockey for the eighth time with 103 winners. Pat also enjoyed considerable success on the international stage.
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), presented the Contribution to Industry Award to legendary racecourse commentator Des Scahill. His iconic voice has been part of Irish racing for over three decades and he will forever be associated with Dawn Run's epic 1986 Cheltenham Gold Cup success which he so famously commentated on for RTE radio.
Cork jockey Jonathan Burke won the Outstanding Achievement Award, which was decided by a public vote through the HRI Awards App. At just 19 years of age, Jonathan enjoyed an excellent season with Grade 1 victories on Sizing John in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown and Sizing Granite in the Maghull Novices' Chase at Aintree on Grand National day. Further big race success followed on Shanahan's Turn in the tote.com Galway Plate at the Galway Festival in late July.
Trainer Enda Bolger picked up thePoint-To-Point Award following his clean sweep of the three main hunter chases at the big Spring festivals with On The Fringe. Ridden by Nina Carberry, On The Fringe completed the Cheltenham and Aintree Foxhunters double and went on to win the Champion Hunter Chase at the Punchestown Festival.
The Racecourse of the Year Award went to Leopardstown Racecourse for the second year in a row. It was selected by the Racegoers Consultative Forum based upon the best all-round customer experience. The Foxrock track also collected special category awards for Best Catering, Best Information Services and Best Entertainment. Punchestown Racecourse received their second Most Family-Friendly Award.
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of HRI commented: "The reputation of Irish racing and breeding is built on the achievements of the extraordinarily talented people in our industry. The HRI Awards allow us celebrate these trainers, jockeys and horses who give us so much to be proud of and I wish all our winners and nominees continued success in 2016."
The award winners received bronze trophies, created by sculptor Siobhan Bulfin.