The nominees for the 2011 Horse Racing Ireland Awards were announced today, (Monday 14th November). This is the ninth year of the Horse Racing Ireland Awards, and the winners will as always be decided by the votes of the Irish Racing Media. The Awards recognise the human and equine excellence in the sport of horse racing where Ireland continues to achieve great success in the elite international arena. Simon Coveney, TD, Minister for Agriculture will be the Guest of Honour at this year's awards on Monday 12th December.
The nominees for the 2011 Awards are headed up by the feature Award, the Horse of the Year category, which includes last year's winner Big Zeb; Ascot Gold Cup winner Fame And Glory; Champion Hurdler Hurricane Fly: Champion mare Quevega; Cheltenham Champion Chase winner Sizing Europe; and Irish Champion Stakes winner So You Think.
The nominees in the National Hunt category are: Bryan Cooper, Gordon Elliott, Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. The Flat nominees are Seamie Heffernan, Johnny Murtagh, Aidan O'Brien and his son Joseph.
The Outstanding Achievement Award is a category of six with great variety which includes Grand National winning Jockey Nina Carberry; Tom Doyle who won a Grade 1 on Follow the Plan at Punchestown and also the Galway Hurdle; Ger Lyons who saddled his 1st Group 1 winner with Lightening Pearl; Arthur Moore who trained the Grand National winner ridden by his niece and also a Cheltenham Festival winner; Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winning jockey Colm O'Donoghue; and Dermot Weld who saddled a record breaking 17 winners at the Galway Festival.
The Point-to-Point category comprises Trainers Colin Bowe and Ian Ferguson and Jockeys Jamie Codd and Derek O'Connor.
The Contribution to the Industry Award is announced on the day (there are no nominees). Past winners include Colm Murray, Michael Kinane, Dave Fox, Galway Race Committee, Con Collins and Kevin Prendergast
Chief Executive of HRI said: - "2011 was another tremendously successful year for Irish Racing both at home and abroad which began with a record breaking thirteen Irish trained winners at the Cheltenham Festival in March and ended with a fantastic Aidan O'Brien double at the Breeders Cup Meeting in Churchill Downs, America. Trainer Willie Mullins saddled four winners at the Cheltenham Festival with the victory of Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle the highlight while Irish trained horses filled the first four placings in the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Henry de Bromhead's Sizing Europe leading home the quartet for a memorable victory. Ruby Walsh was crowned leading rider at the meeting once again while there was almost an unforgettable Irish sweep of the seven races there on the Wednesday with only the Champion Bumper failing to go to an Irish trained runner. Wednesday was also a memorable day for trainer Gordon Elliott who saddled his first two winners at the meeting courtesy of Chicago Grey and Carlito Brigante, while Jessica Harrington's Bostons Angel took a thrilling RSA Novice Chase and Arthur Moore struck with What A Charm in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, giving subsequent Irish Champion Jockey, Paul Townend, a maiden success at the meeting.
Arthur Moore and his niece Nina Carberry then combined to take the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday while the Punchestown Festival was once again an outstanding success. Champion Trainer Willie Mullins once again had a memorable week with seven winners all told and the supremely impressive success of Hurricane Fly in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle will live long in the memory while the high class Quevega took the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle for a second consecutive year. The most valuable race over the five days was the Guinness Punchestown Gold Cup which was won in dramatic fashion by the Tom Doyle ridden Follow The Plan, while the following month it was Willie Mullins again who saddled Thousand Stars to win the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil.
On the Flat, Aidan O'Brien enjoyed another very memorable year with twenty Group 1 winners worldwide. Treasure Beach gave him a sixth consecutive win in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby while his teenage son, Joseph, partnered Roderic O'Connor to take the Abu Dhabi Irish 2000 Guineas and Misty For Me landed the Etihad Irish 1000 Guineas. Another successful Royal Ascot meeting for the Irish saw Fame And Glory win the Ascot Gold Cup, while Banimpire emerged best in a thrilling finish to the Ribblesdale Stakes for trainer Jim Bolger and jockey Kevin Manning. The Australian import So You Think produced a fine performance to take the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown as well as winning the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh and the Red Mills Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, while four of the big two year old races in Britain were also annexed by Irish stables. Aidan O'Brien took the Middle Park Stakes with Crusade and also captured the Racing Post Trophy with the exciting Camelot, Jim Bolger won a fourth Dewhurst Stakes in the last six years with Parish Hall and trainer Ger Lyons had his first taste of Group 1 success when Lightening Pearl landed the Cheveley Park Stakes. The continued success of Irish owned, trained, ridden and bred horses in these prestigious international races indicates that Irish racing has a lot to look forward to again next year."