Irish Racing Award Winners Revealed

Monday, December 12, 2011
HRI awards 2011

HRI Award winners

The annual Irish Horse Racing Awards were hosted by Horse Racing Ireland today in the Leopardstown Pavilion, Dublin. The awards which are in their ninth year are voted on by the Irish Racing Media to recognise excellence in the sport of horse racing. Among the 180 guests were Mr Simon Coveney, T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, who presented the six awards.

The prestigious  Horse of the Year  award went to  Hurricane Fly,  who  landed a trio of Champion Hurdles at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown.  Having missed the previous two Cheltenham Festivals due to injury, he finally got his chance to shine on National Hunt Racing's biggest stage when he gained victory in the hotly contested Champion Hurdle, giving Trainer Willie Mullins and Jockey Ruby Walsh their first success in this famous event. Owners Frank & Rose Boyd along with Andrew, Lewis & George Creighton were there to accept the award with their Trainer Willie Mullins.

The  National Hunt  Award was again dominated by Champion Trainer  Willie Mullins,  who took home the prestigious National Hunt award for the third year running. His handling of Hurricane Fly in particular was one of many highlights for the Closutton based trainer as this high class performer was one of four winners for the stable at Cheltenham, where Quevega won the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle for the third consecutive year before she went on to win the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.

Nina Carberry 's hard work was recognised in the form of an  Outstanding Achievement  award. She had a memorable triumph on the Arthur Moore Trained Organisedconfusion in the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.  By winning Ireland's premier steeplechase, she became only the second female rider to triumph in the history of the race. Listen to an interview with Nina Carberry after she had collected her award .

Joseph O'Brien  took home the  Flat Award  after a remarkable season with 57 winners, a total that was good enough to see him finishing third in the Jockeys' Championship as well as becoming Champion Apprentice. Joseph had an amazing year winning the Abu Dhabi Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh on Roderic O'Connor and the Moyglare Stud Stakes on the unbeaten filly Maybe, while he also guided Camelot to a smooth success in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October. However, the icing on the cake came when he became the youngest ever rider to partner a winner at the Breeders Cup Meeting at Churchill Downs as he drove St Nicholas Abbey to a memorable success in the Breeders' Cup Turf in November.

The  Point to Point  Award was claimed by  Derek O'Connor  who has now ridden in excess of 750 point to point winners.  He also had his first Cheltenham festival winner on Chicago Grey this year and is now the record breaking eight times Point to Point Champion, while 2011 also saw him perform the remarkable feat of riding six winners on a day not once, but twice.

Dermot Weld  was honoured with the  Contribution to the Industry Award for his huge role in the internationalisation of Irish racing.  The Master of Rosewell House Stables on the Curragh had another successful year, saddling his 3,500th winner in Tipperary in April while his incredible achievement of saddling a record breaking 17 winners at the Galway Summer Festival was a truly remarkable feat. Amongst his amazing achievements throughout his near 40-year training career are 8 Champion Trainer Titles in terms of prizemoney, 22 Leading Trainer Titles in terms of winners trained, while he has also been Leading Trainer at the Galway Festival on 27 separate occasions.  Listen to an interview with Dermot Weld after he had picked up his award. 

Weld also became the first trainer to saddle 100 winners in an Irish Flat Racing Season which he managed in 1985 and has also won every Irish Classic on at least one occasion (15 Irish Classics in total) plus an English 2000 Guineas and an English Oaks. The Master of Rosewell House Stables on the Curragh achieved world wide fame when becoming the first trainer outside Australia to saddle the winner of the Melbourne Cup, a feat he managed on two occasions with Vintage Crop in 1993 and Media Puzzle nine years later. Weld is still the only European based trainer to send out a winner of one of the American Triple Crown Races after his Go And Go took the 1990 Belmont Stakes while by saddling Additional Risk to win the 1991 Hong Kong International Bowl, he became the first Irish trainer to win that particular race.

On the National Hunt scene, Weld also has an Irish Grand National, a Kerry National, 4 Galway Plates, 3 Galway Hurdles, 2 Irish Champion Hurdles and an Ericsson Chase to his credit while he has also trained 17 Royal Ascot winners, including the Ascot Gold Cup with Rite Of Passage in 2010, and he sent out Committed to win the Prix de l'Abbaye in 1984 & 1985.

Simon Coveney, T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine  said: "At a time of economic adversity, the success of Irish Breeders, Trainers and Jockeys shows what we are capable of in this country, which has such a rich equine history and heritage. The Irish bloodstock industry is of enormous economic benefit to this country, providing 16,000 jobs, almost €1bn in economic output with exports worth some €147m to 36 countries in 2010.  The great success enjoyed in 2011 created a ripple effect, enhancing the reputation of the industry and benefitting Owners, Breeders, Jockeys and indeed all those involved in the industry either directly or indirectly. The Government is aware of the economic importance of the horse racing and breeding sector. It ticks all the boxes in terms of employment, foreign direct investment and is the type of export-orientated industry we need. Not alone that but it is very much part of our international reputation. It is simply part of what we are. I congratulate all our award winners today who have represented horse racing and Ireland so well."

Link to the full keynote address.

Denis Brosnan, Chairman of Horse Racing Ireland  commented on 2011:   "I am delighted that Minister Coveney has given us a strong commitment to see the racing industry properly financed through betting duty. The extension of the levy to remote betting sites and exchanges will come into effect from the second quarter of next year, which is the vital first step in providing racing with an adequate and secure funding arrangement which no longer relies upon a government subvention. Long-term security of funding is essential if we are to plan for and develop the Irish racing and breeding industry, so that we can play a significant role in the national economic recovery by establishing Ireland as the country of choice for investment in horses, horse training, racing, equine skills education, racing tourism, breeding and training establishments and land for equine development."

She had a memorable triumph on the Arthur Moore Trained Organisedconfusion in the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.