A total of 34 nominations have been made for the 2020
Horse Racing Ireland Awards which will be presented at a virtual awards
ceremony early next month.
Seven category winners will be decided by a ballot of the Irish racing media –
Horse of the Year, National Hunt Award, National Hunt Achievement Award, Flat
Award, Flat Achievement Award, Point-to-Point Award and the Emerging Talent
Award which was presented for the first time last year.
Once again, a public vote will decide the outcome of the 2020 Ride of the Year
winner with the contenders to be announced shortly.
Ride 1 - Rachael Blackmore
A Plus Tard, Leopardstown
Ride 2 - Seamie Heffernan
Ride 3 - Colin Keane
Siskin, The Curragh
Ride 4 - Conor Maxwell
Glamorgan Duke, Leopardstown
Ride 5 - Gavin Ryan
Ride 6 - Paul Townend
built on a terrific 2019 with no shortage of success this year. He had a day to
remember at ParisLongchamp in early October when partnering the Tony
Mullins-trained Princess Zoe to win the Qatar Prix du Cadran, his first Group 1
victory. He also enjoyed significant handicap and listed race success on the
same horse and in addition, rode two listed race winners for trainer Denis
champion apprentice for 2020, Gavin rode his first Group race winner when the
Donnacha O'Brien-trained Shale won the Group 3 Silver Flash Stakes at
Leopardstown. He won a second race at the same level when the Ado McGuinness-trained
Current Option took the Concorde Stakes at Tipperary. Gavin was also won a
listed race and enjoyed significant handicap success on both Current Option
and McGuinness’ Saltonstall, and another big handicap victory came on the Mark
Fahey-trained Edification. Gavin was the leading Flat jockey at this year’s
Galway festival with five winners.
Shane certainly had a year to remember, riding his first
Group 1 winner on the Joseph O'Brien-trained Pretty Gorgeous in the Fillies'
Mile at Newmarket in October. Earlier in the season, he had enjoyed Group 2
success on Speak In Colours at the Curragh in June and rode out his claim with
a treble at Leopardstown the following month.
Dylan rode his first winner in October of 2019 and wasted
little time establishing himself as one of the leading apprentice riders in the
country. He was successful on the Joseph O'Brien-trained Baron Samedi on three
occasions and enjoyed notable handicap race success on the trainer’s Mighty
Blue and Memyselfandmoi. The busy 17-year-old reduced his claim to 5lbs only
only his third full season riding, Sean is one of the busiest of National Hunt
jockeys and is enjoying no shortage of success in a most competitive sphere. He
is on the verge of riding out his claim and shared his biggest success to date
with Gordon Elliott as they combined to win the Matheson Handicap Chase with Eclair
De Beaufeu at the Dublin Racing Festival earlier this year.
National Hunt Award Nominee
enjoyed another strong year and her association with the unbeaten Honeysuckle
was the definite highlight. She won Grade 1 chases on Notebook and A Plus Tard
at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival and returned to the same course for the
Dublin Racing Festival where Notebook was again a Grade 1 winner and the Irish
Champion Hurdle went her way on Honeysuckle. Rachael gained her third
Cheltenham Festival success on the same mare in the Grade 1 Close Brothers
Mares' Hurdle in March.
opening day Grade 1 double brought Henry de Bromhead’s Cheltenham Festival
tally to nine winners. Put The Kettle On was triumphant in the Arkle Novice’s
Chase and the fine unbeaten mare Honeysuckle brought her top-level haul to four
with a battling success in the Mares’ Hurdle. She had earlier won the Irish
Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival and De Bromhead also recorded
domestic Grade 1 success with both Notebook (twice) and A Plus Tard.
Gordon saddled seven winners at the Cheltenham Festival in
March and his achievements closer to home have been equally impressive. He
saddled four Grade 1 winners at the Christmas Festival at Leopardstown and
began the New Year with further Grade 1 success with Envoi Allen at Naas. Envoi
Allen completed a hat-trick of Grade 1 wins in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at
Cheltenham and remains unbeaten in eight starts for the Cullentra trainer.
Delta Work was an Irish Gold Cup winner at Leopardstown in February and
Aforementioned was yet another notable handicap chase winner for Gordon in the Ladbrokes
JT McNamara Munster National at Limerick in October.
The champion jockey, Paul again enjoyed his greatest moment
of the year when winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup for a second time on Al Boum
Photo. Paul emerged as the leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival for the
first time with five winners. He had ridden a Grade 1 double at the Dublin
Racing Festival in February on Chacun Pour Soi and Faugheen and was the big
winner at the Listowel festival where he won the Guinness Kerry National for
the first time on Cabaret Queen.
champion trainer, Willie became the leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival
for the seventh time when dominating the final day this year with four winners,
including the back-to-back success of Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup. Closer to
home, he won Grade 1 races with the likes of Faugheen, Sharjah, Chacun Pour Soi
and Asterion Forlonge and big handicap wins came his way in the Thyestes with
Total Recall, the Galway Hurdle with Aramon and the Kerry National with Cabaret
National Hunt Achievement Award
Came To Pass bridged a 29-year gap for Lombardstown, County Cork trainer Eugene
O'Sullivan when easily winning the St James’ Place Foxhunter Chase at the
Cheltenham Festival in March. O’Sullivan had won the race in 1991 with Lovely
Citizen, ridden by his brother William, and there was another strong family
link to this year’s triumph as O’Sullivan’s daughter Maxine was in the saddle
as the 66/1 outsider scored a 10-length success.
National Hunt Achievement Award Nominee
winning-most amateur rider in Irish racing history, Patrick set another new
standard when becoming the champion amateur rider for a record 12th time, a
terrific achievement. Grade 1 winners Sharjah and Faugheen counted towards last
season’s winning haul as did his Grade 2 bumper success on Appreciate It at the
Dublin Racing Festival in February.
can’t be many more competitive handicap hurdles in the calendar than the
Ladbrokes Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival and Charles landed a remarkable
third consecutive win in the race at Leopardstown in February. Successful with
Off You Go in 2018 and 2019, the Limerick trainer struck with 7/1 chance
Thosedaysaregone this year.
the shortened season, Darragh set a record of 45 winners when taking the
conditional jockeys’ championship. His tally was one more than Jack Kennedy’s
winning total in the 2015/2016 season and big winners included Cork Grand
National success on The Gatechecker in November of last year. More recently, Everlastingpromise
gave him a notable success at Killarney in July while he won the Liam Healy
Memorial Lartigue Handicap Hurdle on the Ado McGuinness-trained Politicise in
Flat Award Nominee
champion trainer once again, Aidan’s season was highlighted by Classic success
in Ireland and Britain and multiple Group 1 victories at home, in Britain and
in France. Love added the Yorkshire Oaks to earlier wins in the QIPCO 1,000
Guineas and the Epsom Oaks, O’Brien enjoyed English and Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby
wins with Serpentine and Santiago respectively while Peaceful took the
Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas. Magical also starred with wins in the Pretty
Polly Stakes and the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh and in the Irish
Champion Stakes on Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown. Mogul and
Van Gogh were top-flight winners in France.
Colin is the champion jockey for the second time,
overhauling front-runner Shane Foley with a remarkable run of form that
included a first career four-timer in late August. Keane landed his first
Classic success on Siskin in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas in June and
added a second when Even So won the Juddmonte Irish Oaks the following month.
Further Group 1 glory came when he partnered Champers Elysees to win the
Coolmore Matron Stakes at Leopardstown on Longines Irish Champions Weekend.
A’Ali, Lemista and Safe Voyage were Group 2 winners for the Meathman during the
year. Colin rode 100 winners this season, the third time he has reached a three-figure
Ger enjoyed another solid season and reached new highs very
early on when recording a breakthrough Classic success with Siskin in the
Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh. He followed that with a win in
the Juddmonte Irish Oaks with Even So a month later. Lemista, a three-time
winner this season, won at both Group 2 and Group 3 level with Nickajack Cave
also a Group 3 winner for the stable. The speedy two-year-old Frenetic won four
races while the likes of Amber Kite, Ecliptical and Maker Of Kings also added
multiple victories during the year.
Another super year for Joseph, topped off by a first British
Classic success with Galileo Chrome in the St Leger at Doncaster in September
and a second Melbourne Cup triumph, with Twilight Payment, in early November.
The two-year-olds Pretty Gorgeous and Thunder Moon also scored at Group 1
level, with Pista, Twilight Payment, Speak In Colours and Baron Samedi adding
Group 2 wins while Patrick Sarsfield, Crossfirehurricane and Buckhurst bagged Group
3 success for the Piltown stable. Joseph takes second place in the trainers’
championship for the third successive year.
Johnny easily enjoyed his best season as a trainer in 2020.
He enjoyed a terrific start to the term, notably sharing his much of success
with a number of jockeys. Champers Elysees was Murtagh’s first winner of the
season in a handicap at the Curragh in June and she progressed through the
ranks, winning a listed race at the Galway festival, a Group 3 at Tipperary and
then giving the stable its finest hour when landing the Group 1 Matron Stakes
at Leopardstown on Longines Irish Champions Weekend, a race Murtagh won on
three occasions as a jockey. Know It All and Urban Beat were other Group 3
winners, Aztec Parade won at listed level and Sonnyboyliston and Red Kelly
landed notable handicap success.
Flat Achievement Award
can boast as strong a backroom staff as champion trainer Aidan O'Brien and
featuring highly on the Ballydoyle team is Emmet McNamara. He enjoyed by far
the greatest moment of his career when winning the Epsom Derby on the
O’Brien-trained Serpentine in early July. The Limerickman gave the 25/1
outsider a brilliantly bold ride, setting a strong pace from the off and racing
clear throughout. He hardly saw another rival as he recorded a convincing five
and a half-length success.
Tony is certainly no stranger to success but he broke new
ground with his terrific handling of Princess Zoe this season. The
five-year-old made huge strides after easily winning the Ladies Derby at the
Curragh under Jody Townend in mid-July. She followed that with two hugely
significant handicap wins at the Galway festival and returned to Ballybrit in
September to land the Listed Ardilaun Hotel Oyster Stakes. She then gave Mullins
his greatest day when winning Group 1 Qatar Prix du Cadran at ParisLongchamp on
Arc weekend, a truly memorable success under Joey Sheridan.
Kieran’s handling of A Step Too Far was one of the stories
of the season, the four-year-old winning a remarkable six handicap races
in-a-row. Her run of success began at Naas in July off a rating of 50. She won
twice in two days at Bellewstown the following month and the first of three
wins in September came at Navan, with further success gained at a higher level
at Cork. But the best was yet to come as the Sinead Dunne-owned filly scored a
thrilling victory in the Heffernan Tyres Joe McGrath Handicap, a win that saw her rating rise to 91.
only sent out his first runners at the beginning of 2020 but he has made an
immediate impact in the training ranks. Three weeks short of his 22nd birthday,
he scored a first Classic success in the Prix de Diane at Chantilly in July
with Fancy Blue, the first Irish-trained winner of the race since 1970. The
same filly gave Donnacha a winner with his first runner in Britain when landing
the Group 1 Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood and his first top-level success at
home came when Shale won the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh in
has long been making headlines and the master trainer was certainly the centre
of attention with a fine Classic/Group 1 double on the second Sunday in September.
In his own back yard, he landed a record-equalling ninth success in the Irish
St Leger at the Curragh when winning the race for a second successive year with
Search For A Song. A little earlier on the same afternoon, Weld struck a blow
for the Irish at ParisLongchamp where the thoroughly progressive Tarnawa gave
him his first success in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille. She would return to France
to win the Group 1 Prix De l’Opera the following month.
One of the most successful Irish jockeys of all time, Seamie
added to his remarkable big-race success with four Group 1 wins this season. He
recorded a Classic double with wins on Peaceful in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000
Guineas and on Santiago in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and added memorable
wins on the superstar Magical in the Pretty Polly Stakes, also at the Curragh,
and in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Longines Irish Champions
Weekend in September.
Horse Of The Year Award Nominee
For the second year running, Al Boum Photo made a winning
seasonal reappearance at Tramore on New Year's Day and went on to land the
Cheltenham Gold Cup for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend. He became only the
seventh horse to win the race back-to-back and the first to do so since Best
Mate’s second win in the race in 2003.
matched last season’s winning haul of three Group 1 races in another superb
year. Now a Group 1 winner at three, four and five years of age, she made a winning
return to action in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh in late June. She
repeated last year’s success in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the same course the
following month and also landed a back-to-back success in the Irish Champion
Stakes at Leopardstown on Longines Irish Champions Weekend in September where
she beat the world’s highest-rated racehorse, Ghaiyyath.
The star mare in training, Honeysuckle is unbeaten in eight
racecourse starts and was one of the big winners over hurdles this year. She
won four times in all last season, completing a hat-trick of Grade 1 victories
when adding to her success in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle in the Irish Champion
Hurdle at Leopardstown in February and rounding off the season when getting the
better of odds-on favourite Benie Des Dieux to land the Mares’ Hurdle at the
Cheltenham Festival in March.
Horse Of The Year
O'Brien enjoyed plenty of Group 1 success in 2020 and an early contributor to
his top-level haul was Love. She was quite brilliant when winning the Qipco 1,000
Guineas at Newmarket in June and was better again when taking the Epsom Oaks by
all of nine lengths the following month. She put up another special performance
to land the Yorkshire Oaks in August and was certainly one of the stars of the
Gordon Elliott’s charge added to four unbeaten starts in
bumpers with four straight wins over hurdles last season, three of them at
Grade 1 level. He built on success in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle when winning
the Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle in January and maintained his perfect record
with a taking win in the Ballymore Novices´ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival
Point-To-Point Award Nominee
The Handlers award was first recognised in point to points
in 2008 and since then Colin Bowe has dominated the category winning his eighth
title in this shortened season. His 29 winners achieved by the end of March
when the season ended would have won the title in ten of the twelve years so
far such was the dominance of his runners up the point of lockdown. His
business revolves around selling quality stock and therefore his return at the
Cheltenham festival was remarkable. The unbeaten Envoi Allen winning the
Ballymore, Samcro winning the Marsh Chase and Ferny Hollow winning the bumper
all showcased the exceptional talent being tutored at the Milestone academy
year after year. Bowe also provided Barry O’Neill with much of the firepower to
win a fourth riders' title.
Rob has enjoyed success on Shishkin, Topofthegame, The Big
Breakaway and many other high-class performers in recent seasons. With 219
winners, he is 15th in the list of all-time winners ridden by point-to-point
riders. This season he picked up his first regional award when winning the
Western award to add the Novice title he secured in 2014. In March, he enjoyed
his first Cheltenham Festival success when scoring on Milan Native in the Kim
Muir for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud.
is becoming the dominant force of his riding generation within point to points.
He picked up his first title in 2017 seeing off Derek O’Connor and Jamie Codd
and has secured his position as the dominant force by securing his fourth
successive title this season. Finishing on a score of 42 by the end of March
was remarkable and he also saw some of the horses he had previously partnered
in point to points achieve notable success on the track such as Samrco and the
unbeaten Envoi Allen. In October 2020 Barry O’Neill became just the fourth
rider to partner 600 career winners between the flags and went on to ride his
603 winners at Moira which moved him past the late J T McNamara (602) to become
the third winning-most rider in the history of the sport behind Derek O’Connor
and Jamie Codd.
O’Hare enjoyed a wonderful career securing a Landrover Bumper, a Cheltenham
festival winner and towards the latter stages of his career a notably
successful connection to the Noel Meade yard. His point to point exploits were
remarkable given that his haul of 244 career winners in points saw him ride a
winner in each of the four decades in which he rode. He rode his first winner
in 1999 and went on to be Northern Champion in 2006 and again in 2016 before
riding a winner at Armagh point to point in 2020 to secure the feat of a winner
in four different decades. This is an achievement which capped a fine career
for the popular northern rider.
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