The nominations for the 2017 annual Horse Racing Ireland Awards have been announced, with 28 stars of the racing industry in the running to win an award. RTE sports broadcaster Des Cahill will be master of ceremonies for the awards, which take place at Leopardstown Racecourse on Tuesday December 5th. 

     

    Awards are presented in seven categories: Horse of the Year, National Hunt Racing, Flat Racing, Point-to-Point Racing, Outstanding Achievement, Contribution to the Industry and Racecourse of the Year. Four category winners are decided by a ballot of the Irish racing media. 

    The winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award is selected by the Irish racing media and the general public.

     

  • NATIONAL HUNT AWARD NOMINEES

  • Gordon Elliott

    A terrific year for Gordon who has really made great strides in recent seasons and his domestic tally of 123 winners in the 2015/2016 season was the first time he managed to break through the 100 winner mark in Ireland. Undoubtedly, the tremendous victory of stable star Don Cossack in the Cheltenham Gold Cup was the highlight while Diamond King landed the Coral Cup at the same meeting. The ill-fated No More Heroes bagged a couple of important Grade 1 victories with success in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse and The Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown in late December while Prince Of Scars took the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle at the same meeting. In recent months, Gordon has recorded excellent victories in the Galway Plate (Lord Scoundrel), the Guinness Kerry National (Wrath Of Titans) and the Ladbrokes Munster National (Tiger Roll) and with the yard strengthened by an influx of Gigginstown Stud horses which were transferred from Willie Mullins, he managed to smash the 100 winner mark for the season by the second week of November and 2016/2017 will surely be his best ever season.

     

    Willie Mullins

    Overcame the loss of 60 Gigginstown-owned horses from his stable in September of last year to become Champion Irish National Hunt Trainer once again after a titanic struggle with Gordon Elliott and victory was only assured on the last day of the season at Punchestown. It was another memorable season for the Master of Closutton with a further six winners at the Cheltenham Festival highlighted by the Ryanair Chase win of Un De Sceaux while Nichols Canyon gave him a first victory in the Stayers’ (World) Hurdle.

    There were numerous Grade 1 victories with Douvan (Paddy Power Cashcard Chase), Min (Racing Post Novice Chase), Un De Sceaux (Tingle Creek Chase & Clarence House Chase), Bacardys (Deloitte Novice Hurdle & Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle) and Great Field (Ryanair Novice Chase) while the top-level success of Wicklow Brave (BETDAQ Punchestown Champion Hurdle) and Bapaume (AES Champion 4YO Hurdle) finally edged the trainers’ championship in his favour. The stable has hit the ground running during the Summer and Autumn months with the likes of Sayar (Joe Mac Novice Hurdle), Total Recall (Ladbrokes Munster National) and Melon (WKD Hurdle at Down Royal) all on the mark while a fully fit Douvan, Faugheen and Min are just three that look well capable of further big race success as the season goes on.

    Jessica Harrington

    Enjoyed another terrific season with the highlight undoubtedly being the brilliant Sizing John who gave her a first success in the Cheltenham Gold Cup having never had a runner in the race before. Sizing John also won the Irish Gold Cup and the Punchestown Gold Cup to notch up an unprecedented treble while Our Duke took the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown in late December before producing a top drawer display to win the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse in tremendous style. Jessica is now also the leading female trainer at the Cheltenham Festival with 11 winners as Supasundae in the Coral Cup and Rock The World in the Grand Annual Chase crowned a memorable week for her while Woodland Opera claimed the EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase (Grade A) at the Punchestown Festival and it was also great to see former Champion Hurdler, Jezki, regain the winning thread with a recent success in the Tipperary Hurdle in early October. 

  • Henry De Bromhead

    A very successful season for Henry with his highest total of 68 winners at home included some fine big race victories with Petit Mouchoir one of the stable stars. He won the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown over the Christmas period before becoming the first non-Willie Mullins trained winner of the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle since 2010 when beating Footpad in an exciting finish. While Petit Mouchoir had to settle for a fine third placing in the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle, Special Tiara gave the stable a memorable victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase six years after Sizing Europe won the same race. Special Tiara also took the Desert Orchid Chase at Sandown while Some Plan in the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase and Champagne West in the Goffs Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park were other big race winners for the yard. In early August, Balko Des Flos won the TheTote.com Galway Plate to give Henry his second victory in the race in the last three years and another fine season looks on the cards for the Waterford trainer.

    Robbie Power

    Despite suffering a serious eye injury early in the season, Robbie Power enjoyed a fantastic time of things in the spring of the year and is well worth his nomination in this category. His belief that Sizing John would benefit from a step up in trip from two miles was greatly vindicated as with Robbie on board, this hugely talented seven-year-old reeled off consecutive wins in the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles, the Stan James.com Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown, the Timico Gold Cup at Cheltenham and the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup at the Punchestown Festival. Other big races victories came on Our Duke (Neville Hotels Novice Chase) at Leopardstown in late December before he guided the same horse to a memorable win in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse while Supasundae in the Coral Cup and Rock The World in the Grand Annual Chase were other Cheltenham winners for this popular jockey. Robbie was also leading rider at both the Aintree (four winners including the Mersey Novice Hurdle on Finian’s Oscar and the JLT Melling Chase on Fox Norton) and Punchestown Festivals (six winners including the BoyleSports Champion Chase on Fox Norton and the Guinness Handicap Chase on Sizing Granite). 

    Ruby Walsh

    Won his 12th Champion Irish NH Jockeys’ Title with 131 winners (equalling his previous best total set in the 2007/2008 season) and was again the leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival for the 11th time since 2004. He became the first rider to ride four winners on the one day at the Cheltenham Festival with Yorkhill (JLT Novice Chase), Un De Sceaux (Ryanair Chase), Nichols Canyon (Sun Bets Stayers Hurdle) and Let’s Dance (Trull House Stud Mares Novice Hurdle) all obliging on the Thursday after he had drawn a blank on the first two days. As usual, there were plenty of other big race victories during the course of the season with Un De Sceaux winning both the Tingle Creek Chase and the Clarence House Chase in Britain and Min (Racing Post Novice Chase), Vroum Vroum Mag (Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle), Douvan (Paddy Power Cashcard Chase), Djakadam (John Durkan Chase) other big race winners while a rather frustrating Punchestown Festival for him ended with a fine success on Bapaume in the AES Champion 4YO Hurdle. In recent months, Ruby rode Total Recall to win the Ladbrokes Munster National at Limerick while Melon took the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal and Sayar landed the Joe Mac Novice Hurdle at Tipperary.

  • FLAT AWARD NOMINEES

  • Aidan O’Brien

    Even by his own very high standards, 2017 was an unbelievably successful year for the Master of Ballydoyle. Crowned Champion Trainer in Ireland for the 20th time with 119 winners, he was also Champion Trainer in Britain for a sixth time and the big story of the year was his magnificent 27 Grade/Group 1 winners worldwide as he broke the previous record of 25 set by the late American trainer Bobby Frankel in 2003. Only for the presence of the brilliant filly Enable, he would have won every Irish and English Classic (he saddled the runner up behind Enable in both the English and Irish Oaks) while he also brought his Breeders Cup tally to 13 thanks to the victories of Mendelssohn and Declarationofpeace. Churchill gave him an eighth success in the English 2,000 Guineas and also an 11th win in the Irish equivalent while 40/1 chance, Wings Of Eagles, was a 6th Epsom Derby winner before Capri made it a dozen Irish Derby winners three weeks later. There were six Royal Ascot winners with Highland Reel’s success in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes bringing up his 300th Group 1 career success having earlier landed the Coronation Cup at Epsom while Winter and Roly Poly weighed in with seven Group 1 victories between them. The juveniles were hugely successful with the likes of Clemmie (Cheveley Park Stakes), Saxon Warrior (Beresford Stakes and Racing Post Trophy), Happily (Moyglare Stakes and Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere) and U S Navy Flag completed the Middle Park Stakes-Dewhurst Stakes double – indeed U S Navy Flag led home an unprecedented 1-2-3-4 for the stable in the Dewhurst Stakes.

    Seamie Heffernan

    Another fine year for the Ballydoyle stalwart who continues to be ‘Mr Reliable’ in the saddle and is very much a team player. Seamie rode 40 winners at home and enjoyed a number of big race winners with Capri’s victory in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby giving him a third victory in the race following the success of Soldier Of Fortune in 2007 and Frozen Fire in 2008. At Royal Ascot in June, he rode Idaho to a hard fought success in the Hardwicke Stakes while U S Navy Flag gave him a Middle Park Stakes success at Newmarket from stable companion Fleet Review. The Prix de l’Opera at Chantilly on Arc Day resulted in another 1-2 for the Aidan O’Brien yard and it was Seamie on Rhododendron who got the better of Ryan Moore on Hydrangea after a terrific struggle while other notable victories during another excellent campaign came courtesy of Elizabeth Browning in the Kilboy Estate Stakes, Actress in the Anglesey Stakes and Spanish Steps in the Ballyroan Stakes.

  • Colin Keane

    Having finished runner up to Pat Smullen in the last two Irish Flat Jockeys’ Championships, Colin Keane went one better in 2017 clinching a memorable first title by riding his 100th winner of the season on the very last day which was a truly remarkable achievement for this young and extremely talented rider. He started the season at Naas in late March with a double and from early in the season built up a healthy advantage over his rivals and although Pat Smullen gradually whittled away his lead towards the latter part of the year, Colin kept churning out the winners and in the end won decisively by a margin of 12. Trainer Ger Lyons has to take a great deal of credit for supplying Colin with 67 winners during the year with Psychedelic Funk’s victory in the Concorde Stakes at Tipperary and Treasuring’s triumph in the Curragh Stakes two main highlights. Colin also teamed up with the English-trained Realtra to win both the EBF Brownstown Stakes at Fairyhouse and the Fairy Bridge Stakes at Tipperary while a memorable year was wrapped up by his first Group 1 success on the Tony Martin-trained Laganore in the Premio Lydia Tesio in Italy having earlier partnered the same filly to success in the Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Stakes at Gowran Park.

     

    Ger Lyons

    2017 was Ger’s best season in terms of winners trained as he notched up an impressive tally of 72 during the year which helped stable jockey Colin Keane notch up his first Flat Jockeys’ Title. In particular, his juveniles enjoyed a fine time with 24 winners in that department and he has some nice ones to look forward to for next season. His horses performed consistently well all season long with an opening day double at Naas in late March including the Tote Irish Lincolnshire with the stable stalwart Brendan Brackan setting the scene for things to come. Some notable wins during the season came courtesy of Doctor Geoff in the Tetrarch Stakes while Treasuring landed the Qatar Racing And Equestrian Curragh Stakes. Psychedelic Funk won the Concorde Stakes at Tipperary while Elegant Pose (EBF Garnet Stakes) and Moonlight Bay (At The Races Birdcatcher Stakes) were other notable winners. Brendan Brackan has long been a stable star and he enjoyed another fine season with victories in the Glencairn Stakes at Leopardstown and the Navigation Stakes at Cork. Gobi Desert was one of a number of very promising two-year-olds and after winning nicely at the Curragh first time out, he rounded off the campaign with success in the Legacy Stakes at Navan while maiden winners McMunigal, Lightening Quick and Who’s Steph all look well capable of making their presence felt in some good races next season.

    Oisin Orr

    Having only ridden his first winner in early 2015, Oisin Orr has made great strides since then and was crowned Champion Apprentice with a total of 20 winners in 2017. While his success was undoubtedly made easier by the unfortunate fall of early championship leader Ana O’Brien at Killarney in mid-July, Oisin has made a good impression with his quiet riding style and was a deserving winner of the title. Apprenticed to the Edward Lynam stable, Oisin is very much in demand with a variety of trainers and enjoyed some fine successes for trainer Tony Martin. The pair combined to win the valuable Cork Derby Handicap with Moonmeister in the middle of June and were on the mark with the veteran Ted Veale in the Guinness Handicap at Listowel while other winners for them included Nibiru, Tudor City, Landsman and Our Rachael. The Donegal apprentice seems to be very effective riding on the all-weather at Dundalk and he won twice aboard Ellmarie Holden’s My Direction towards the latter part of the season while his Master supplied him with winners courtesy of Magic Bear and Voge. Oisin’s claim is now at 3lbs and he is sure to be much in demand once again next year and is definitely a jockey to follow. 

  • HORSE OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES

  • Capri

    His campaign started with a respectable fourth placing in the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown before he went close in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial over the same course three weeks later and a fine run when a close up sixth in the Epsom Derby soon followed. At the Curragh in early July, he had to fend off a number of challenges from early in the straight to defeat subsequent English Champion Stakes winner Cracksman by a neck in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and after a mid-season break he returned in fine fettle to win the English St Leger in great style thus becoming the first horse since the legendary Nijinsky to complete this unique double. His season ended just two weeks later when he failed to land a blow in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly but he was probably feeling the effects of a hard race in the Leger on that occasion.

    Highland Reel

    This globe-trotting individual was once again a model of consistency during 2017 and took his earnings past €7.5 million in the process. Heavy rain in Dubai left the ground too soft for him to get involved in the Dubai Sheema Classic in late March but back on his favoured fast ground, he proved too good for his rivals in the Coronation Cup at Epsom in early June and then became his trainer’s 300th Group 1 career winner in a terrific battle for the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot defeating the subsequent Irish Champion Stakes hero, Decorated Knight, and the subsequent Eclipse Stakes and Juddmonte International Stakes winner, Ulysses, in a memorable contest. The unusual wet summer in England did not play to his strengths but Highland Reel’s subsequent fourth placing in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July and his third placing behind Cracksman in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot in October were both worthy efforts while a second bid at Breeders Cup Turf glory in Del Mar ended with another excellent effort although he had to settle for third place behind the French trained Talismanic. 

    Our Duke

    A smart novice hurdler the season before last, he immediately took to fences with a fluent success in a hotly contested beginners event at Navan in early December before proving best in a terrific three way battle for the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown later in the month  as he defeated Grade 1 winners Coney Island and Disko by half a length and the same. Disko reversed that form by beating Our Duke in the Flogas Novice Chase over 2m 5f back at Leopardstown in early February and the decision to bypass the Cheltenham Festival was handsomely rewarded when Our Duke powered clear of his rivals from early in the straight to win the Boylesports Irish Grand National by 14 lengths in tremendous style as his undoubted class helped him to overcome his relative inexperience over fences.

  • Sizing John

    Started the campaign by finishing third to his old nemesis Douvan over two miles at Leopardstown over Christmas but the decision to step him up in distance proved to be an inspired one as he proved to be a real revelation. He ran out a decisive winner of the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles in late January before running out a narrow winner of the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in early February and then scored an unforgettable triumph in the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following month. This thoroughly likeable seven year old then rounded off a wonderful season by just getting the better of Djakadam and Coneygree in a thrilling race for the Punchestown Gold Cup thus becoming the first horse ever to complete this particular hat-trick of races.

    Un De Sceaux

    Successful three times at Grade 1 level in the 2016-2017 NH season, Un De Sceaux proved once again what a high class performer he is with some excellent performances and fully deserves his nomination in this category. His season commenced with a fine success in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in early December while for the second consecutive year he won the Clarence House Chase (held at Cheltenham this year) in late January. Stepped up in trip for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March he defied Ruby Walsh’s best efforts to ride him with more restraint as he pulled his way to the front with over a circuit to race and then proceeded to put in some spectacular jumps on his way to an unforgettable triumph over fellow Irish raider Sub Lieutenant in a race that will live long in the memory. His season ended with an honourable defeat to the classy Fox Norton in the Boylesports Champion Chase at the Punchestown Festival but his remarkable horse is now a winner of 18 of his 24 career starts.

    Winter

    A promising juvenile when trained by David Wachman last year, Winter developed into a real star in 2017. A fine second in a Classic Trial at Leopardstown in April was followed by an excellent performance to win the English 1000 Guineas at Newmarket the following month while just three weeks later she became only the third filly to complete the 1000 Guineas double when taking the Tattersalls sponsored Classic by over four lengths at the Curragh thus following in the footsteps of Attraction (2004) and Finsceal Beo (2007). The Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot was up next and she easily accounted for her rivals on that occasion while the step up to ten furlongs in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on quite testing ground in early August resulted in another decisive victory to make it four Group 1 victories in a row. She rounded off the season with a close second to Hydrangea in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown before failing to last out the trip in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly in October but her earlier performances make her a worthy nomination for this category.

  • POINT-TO-POINT AWARD NOMINEES

  • Barry O'Neill

    The 2016/17 point-to-point season saw Barry O’Neill break the 13 year stranglehold on the championship set by Derek O’Connor and Jamie Codd. O’Neill went to the top of the leading riders’ table at Tinahely in October 2016 and maintained his advantage for the remainder of the season. He had been runner-up in the title and finished third on three previous occasions. The former dual novice rider champion had 295 rides which resulted in 66 winners. O’Neill also enjoyed another landmark in his career when he rode his 400th winner at Stradbally in April aboard the Jim Dreaper-trained Mullaghmurphy Blue.

     

    His first career success came in March 2007 at Horse and Jockey aboard Viking Rebel for the Colin Bowe yard which was the beginning of a successful partnership between O’Neill and his fellow Wexford native. O’Neill teamed up with Bowe for some of his most notable winners on the racecourse including the Grade 2 Florida Pearl Novice Chase on Shantou Flyer and the Grade 2 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle with Askanna.  As well as securing his first Irish Field riders’ title last season, O’Neill also claimed his first Eastern riders’ title. 

     

    Colin Bowe

    The 2016/17 season saw another phenomenal year for Wexford handler, Colin Bowe which resulted in him training 32 winners and taking his fifth leading handlers title. Having only saddled his first point-to-point winner in October 2007, his season ending tally had multiplied to 32 winners from a total of 193 runners with a further 23 seconds and 34 thirds. When it is considered that 12 of these winners came in ultra-competitive four-year-old maidens it highlights the strength and quantity within his youngster division.

     

    Associated with a number of very smart types including possibly one of the most exciting young horses in training at the moment, Samcro, as well as dual bumper winner Getabird, Bowe has cemented his place as one of the leading nurseries for point-to-point graduates and has continued to produce some high class graduates such as The Druids Nephew, Western Warhorse and Monbeg Dude. Bowe was also instrumental in Barry O’Neill winning his first leading riders title having supplied him with 25 winners last season. 

     

  • Denis Murphy

    The growing yard of Denis Murphy saw another exciting season in 2016/17 as the Wexford handler enjoyed his best term to date with his team of point-to-pointers which saw him finish third in the table. Finishing the season on 25 winners from a total of 102 runners, he returned an impressive 24.5% strike rate for the season. An incredible 18 of those came in the highly competitive four-year-old maidens. One of the leading point-to-point handlers each season, Murphy, who also rode in point-to-points for many years, has produced some smart types over the years including Grade 1 performers Therealbandit and the Tricky Trickster.

    Murphy’s latest graduates from the 2016/17 season have hit the headlines on many occasions since their point-to-point debuts. Finians Oscar is one of the most exciting young horses in training at the moment and has had a fairy-tale story since winning his four-year-old maiden at Portrush in October 2016 before being sold at the Tattersalls Ireland Cheltenham November Sale from where he went on to win the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown a little over two months later. Another graduate from the Murphy yard, who was the sales topper at the same sale last November is Poli Roi. The son of Poliglote who was a 10-length winner of his four-year-old maiden last autumn, has since won two bumpers for his new yard and also been Grade 1 placed at the Punchestown festival.

    Jamie Codd

    Jamie Codd enjoyed a successful Cheltenham Festival when winning two races at the showpiece event in March.  Kick-starting his week with success in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase on Cause of Causes, a horse that Codd has developed a successful partnership with at Prestbury Park as they have now won at the last three Cheltenham festivals. Completing his dream week in the Cotswolds, Codd brought-up his initial success in the Cheltenham Festival Champion Bumper on Fayonagh. The pair backed up this impressive performance by taking the Racing Post Champion Bumper at the Punchestown festival the following month. Codd’s strong partnership with the Gordon Elliot-trained Cause Of Causes continued when the pair finished second in the Aintree Grand National to One For Arthur.

    The Wexford native also enjoyed success with Enniskillen and Minutestomidnight at the Punchestown festival and following a successful season in bumpers he was crowned champion amateur following his 41-40 win over Patrick Mullins. Due to Codd’s determination to secure his first Champion amateur title he was unable to ride in as many point-to-points as other years but remarkably still manged to finish second in the bid to be Champion point-to-point rider for last season having finished two winners behind Barry O’Neill. At Bartlemy in May Codd rode his 1,000th combined winner aboard Hitman Fred. In addition to his big Festival successes and his first Champion amateur title, Codd was awarded his 19th point-to-point award having won his second senior rider’s title as well as sharing the Southern title with Rob James.

    Liz Lalor

    Liz Lalor has been one of the leading lady riders for a number of years, and her name has been a near constant presence in the race to be the Champion Lady rider. Teaming up to great success with Sprintingforgold last season, the pair combined for success on four occasions during the season. A further two winners during the campaign for Lalor brought her to the six-winner mark and secured her a sixth Ladies title. She also won the first running of the ITM Ladies Open Series having won three of the six races. Liz was part of the winning Irish team at the Anglo Irish Challenge at Kingston Blount in May and also secured a winner on Harris Garden. Liz is already off the mark this season as she steered Defacto Lady to victory at Lisronagh in October. Away from the Pointing fields, Lalor also enjoyed her first double as a trainer under rules when Nicat’s Benefit and De Rasher Counter won for her at Clonmel in March. With nearly 90 winners ridden since she began riding in 2000, she is one of Ireland’s leading lady riders.

  • OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD NOMINEES

  • Lisa O'Neill

    Padraig Beggy

    Rachael Blackmore

  • Pat Kelly

    Joseph O'Brien

    Jack Kennedy

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