A total of 46 nominations have been made for the 2021 Horse Racing Ireland Awards which will be presented at the HRI Awards virtual ceremony on December 15, available to view free-to-air on Racing TV and also at hri.ie.

    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. 
     
    Once again, a public vote will decide the outcome of the 2021 Ride of the Year.

  • Emerging Talent

    Dylan Browne McMonagle

    Dylan Browne McMonagle certainly built on the promise he showed during his breakthrough year in 2020 to be crowned champion apprentice this season. He amassed 48 winners in all and among them were Joseph O'Brien’s Baron Samedi, his first Group race success, and Mighty Blue, a first win at Listed level for the Donegal teenager. 

     

    Jordan Gainford

    Jordan Gainford has enjoyed a fine year. He rode his first winner in the professional ranks in February and secured a first Cheltenham Festival success on Emmet Mullins’ The Shunter less than a month later. A treble at Down Royal in May kick-started what has been a terrific season for the County Wexford conditional rider and his continued success has seen him occupying a prominent position in the National Hunt jockeys’ title race ever since. 

     

    Mikey Sheehy

    2021 was most certainly a year to remember for Mikey Sheehy. A first Listed race victory on the Joseph O'Brien-trained Queenship featured among his 33 winners during the season and Mikey also enjoyed a big day at the Galway festival where he won the Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap on the Ado McGuinness-trained Sirjack Thomas. Mikey was also a winner at the Curragh on Longines Irish Champions Weekend when landing the Northfields Handicap on Max Mayhem, another trained by Joseph O'Brien. 

     

  • Shane Fitzgerald

    Shane Fitzgerald is another young rider who will look back on 2021 with great fondness. His first ride in the professional ranks was a winning one at Clonmel in May and he hasn’t looked back since. Shane notched up a treble at Tipperary in July and really made the headlines when winning the Guinness Kerry National on the Joseph O'Brien-trained Assemble at Listowel in September, a significant success so early in his career. 

    Sam Ewing

    Sam Ewing only rode his first winner in August of last year but he has wasted little time in establishing himself among the top apprentices in the country. He rode an impressive 25 winners in his first full season and among his highlights was a first Listed race success on the Matthew Smith-trained Master Matt at Tipperary.  

  • NATIONAL HUNT AWARD NOMINEES

  • Darragh O'Keefe

    Darragh O'Keeffe made the Grade 1 breakthrough on his first ride at the highest level when winning the Savills Chase on the Henry De Bromhead-trained A Plus Tard at Leopardstown last Christmas. A regular visitor to the winners’ enclosure since, Darragh has spent a significant portion of this season as the leading jockey and the winners continue to flow for the County Cork jockey. 

    Henry de Bromhead

    Two of Henry de Bromhead’s achievements in 2021 are among the most noteworthy in the entire rich history of the sport. Henry became the only trainer to win the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in the same year and just a matter of weeks later, he saddled the first two horses home in the Aintree Grand National. No trainer had sent out a 1-2 in the race since 1908 and de Bromhead is only the second to achieve the feat. Henry also won five Grade 1 races in Ireland during the season. 

    Willie Mullins

    Willie Mullins dominated matters at home once again and was crowned champion trainer for the 15th time at Punchestown. He saddled 23 Grade 1 winners during the Irish season and his most significant winners on home soil were the three-time Grade 1 scorer Chacun Pour Soi and dual Grade 1 winners Appreciate It, Colreevy, Monkfish, Energumene and Gaillard Du Mesnil while Kemboy won the Irish Gold Cup. With six winners, Mullins pipped Henry de Bromhead to become the leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival for the eighth time. 

    Paul Townend

    Paul Townend secured his fourth jockeys’ championship in May of this year and among his 100 winners in an injury-interrupted season were 12 Grade 1 successes. He bettered his tally of three Grade 1 winners at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival with five big winners at the Dublin Racing Festival and returned from injury to win four Grade 1 races at Punchestown. Paul was also a dual Grade 1 winner at the Cheltenham Festival. 

     

  • National Hunt Achievement Award Nominees

    Dermot McLoughlin

    His father Liam rode the Tom Dreaper-trained Kerforo to win the Irish Grand National in 1962 and local trainer Dermot McLoughlin wrote himself into the race’s record books when winning the Fairyhouse spectacular with Freewheelin Dylan, ridden by Ricky Doyle, on Easter Monday. Owned by Sheila Mangan, the nine-year-old was returned at odds of 150/1, the longest-priced winner of the race in its 150-year history. 

     

    Gavin Cromwell

    Certainly no stranger to big-race success, Gavin Cromwell shone once again on the biggest of racing’s stages with a memorable Grade 1 double at the Cheltenham Festival in March. He won the Stayers' Hurdle with Flooring Porter on day three of the meeting and followed up on the final afternoon with success in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle with Vanillier, two terrific wins for the County Meath trainer. 

     

    Jack Kennedy

    Emotions were running high as Jack Kennedy lifted the biggest prize of them all, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, on the Henry de Bromhead-trained Minella Indo on the final day of this year’s Festival in March. At just 21 years of age, the Dingle sensation described the occasion as “the best day of my life” as he landed a battling success over the Rachael Blackmore-ridden A Plus Tard, a stable companion of the winner. 

     

    John Shark Hanlon

    Shark Hanlon landed a most notable feat with a £600 purchase when Skyace won the Grade 1 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse on Easter Sunday. It was a fifth and by far the most important win for the Birdinthehand Syndicate-owned six-year-old.  

     

  • Peter Fahey

    Peter Fahey enjoyed his greatest day as a trainer when he won the Grade 1 Betway Top Novices´ Hurdle with Belfast Banter, a first top-level success for the Monasterevin man. The Direct Bloodstock Ltd-owned six-year-old has climbed through the ranks and was a Cheltenham Festival winner only a matter of weeks earlier, winning the County Hurdle with Kevin Sexton again in the saddle. 

     

    Paul Hennessy

    In the opening months of 2021, Paul Hennessy trained just two horses and he bagged Dublin Racing Festival and Cheltenham Festival success with one of them. Heaven Help Us was one of the star performers at the beginning of the year, racing to success in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown before winning the Coral Cup by all of nine lengths at Cheltenham. The John Turner-owned seven-year-old was ridden to both wins by Richie Condon. 

     

    The Flynn Family (Colreevy)

    Claire and Niall Flynn have a true star on their hands in the shape of Colreevy which they both own and bred. Successful in a Grade 1 bumper at the Punchestown festival in 2019, she was a winner at the top level over fences for the first time when winning the Matchbook Exchange Faugheen Novice Chase at Limerick last Christmas, going on to take the inaugural running of the Grade 2 mares’ chase at Cheltenham before and returning home to win the Grade 1 Dooley Insurance Champion Novice Chase at the Punchestown festival. 

     

    Patrick Mullins

    The record-breaking amateur rider was crowned champion for the 13th time at Punchestown this year and continues to enjoy great success at the very highest level of the game. Last season alone, Patrick rode four Grade 1 winners and more recently won the Guinness Galway Hurdle for the third time in four years when victorious on Saldier at the festival in July. The win saw Patrick become the first jockey to win the race on three occasions since Jonjo O’Neill’s third success in 1983. 

  • FLAT AWARD NOMINEES

  • Aidan O'Brien

    The champion trainer once again, Aidan was a multiple Group/Grade 1 winner in Britain, France and America during the year. He added the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas with Empress Josephine and the Juddmonte Irish Oaks with Snowfall to his domestic Classic haul and also won the Irish Champion Stakes with St Mark’s Basilica.

    Colin Keane

    Colin dominated the Flat season from a jockeys point of view, enjoying a clear lead in the championship from a very early stage as he secured a third riders’ title. He notched up the fastest century of winners, bettered Joseph O’Brien’s 2013 total of 126 and then set a new record of 141 winners with a final day double at Naas. Colin’s season was also highlighted by his Group 1 success on the Noel Meade-trained Helvic Dream in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May and he also won at that level for Aidan O'Brien when taking the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on Broome in early July. 

    Jessica Harrington

    Jessica Harrington enjoyed yet another memorable Flat season, winning Group 1 races on both days of Longines Irish Champions Weekend with No Speak Alexander at Leopardstown and Discoveries at the Curragh. Those winners were among the 87 she sent out during the course of the season, by far her biggest total, with only Joseph O'Brien and Aidan O'Brien winning more races. 

     

  • Joseph O'Brien

    For the first time, Joseph was the leading trainer by way of winners, ending the domestic season with a tally of 108, 20 winners more than his father Aidan. His haul included Group 1 success with Thundering Nights in the Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh but on the other side of the world, Joseph O'Brien added to his remarkable record in Australia with a first success in the Group 1 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley with State Of Rest, ridden by Johnny Allen. The same horse had won the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby in August while also in America, Baron Samedi had taken the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup Stakes in early June. 

    Johnny Murtagh

    Johnny enjoyed a terrific season with no shortage of notable success on both sides of the Irish Sea. The Kildare Racing club-owned Sonnyboyliston was a big winner on both shores, adding to his battling success in the Ebor Handicap at York when taking the Group 1 Comer Group International Irish St Leger, the final Classic of the season at the Curragh. Johnny also secured his first win as a trainer at Royal Ascot with Create Belief, Ottoman Emperor was a winner at Goodwood while closer to home, Earlswood landed two Group 3 races. 

  • FLAT ACHIEVEMENT AWARD NOMINEES

  • Ado McGuinness

    Ado had a year to remember and the crowning glory was his terrific late season success with A Case Of You in the Prix De l’Abbaye. The Lusk-based trainer enjoyed significant premier handicap, Listed, Group 3 and Group 2 wins in the preceding months but reached a new level as the Gary Devlin-owned three-year-old scored a memorable last-gasp Group 1 victory at ParisLongchamp in October.

    Ben Coen

    Ben built on the promise shown in recent years as he enjoyed an undoubted breakthrough season in 2021, highlighted by his first Classic success on the Johnny Murtagh-trained Sonnyboyliston in the Comer Group International Irish St Leger at the Curragh in September. Coen was only 19 years of age at the time and he will look back on the season with great fondness having also enjoyed significant success on big days at the Royal Ascot, Goodwood and York festivals. 

    Eddie Lynam

    Edward was back on the big stage with one of his sprinters as Romantic Proposal won the Grade 1 Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on Longines Irish Champions Weekend in September. The five-year-old has certainly come up through the ranks, winning her maiden two years previously when rated 68 before going on to land notable handicap and Listed race success. 

     

  • Jim & Jackie Bolger

    The early season Classic victories for both Poetic Flare and Mac Swiney must rank highly among the many great days enjoyed by Jim and Jackie Bolger. That both horses were bred and trained by Jim and they carried Jackie’s colours to victory in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket and the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh respectively was very special. For good measure, the Bolgers also bred the horses’ sires, dams and grandams. 

     

    Noel Meade

    No stranger to success at the very highest level in bumpers, over hurdles and over fences, Noel Meade broke new ground in 2021 when recording his first Group 1 success on the Flat. The multiple champion jumps trainer landed the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May with Helvic Dream., Colin Keane’s only top-level success in Ireland last season. 

     

    Paddy Twomey

    Paddy maintained a fine strike-rate throughout the season, the careful placing of his horses yielding a remarkable 18 winners from 61 runners in Ireland. Seven of his 25 runners in Irish Pattern races were winners, including the jewel in the crown, La Petite Coco which won the Group 2 Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes at the Curragh on Longines Irish Champions Weekend. 

     

     

    Rory Cleary

    Rory Cleary landed the biggest success of his career when winning the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas on the Jim Bolger-trained Mac Swiney at the Curragh in May. It was a first Classic and Group 1 success for one of the most popular jockeys and his success was widely acclaimed, especially by his weighroom colleagues who clapped the Athlone-born rider back into the winners’ enclosure on a most memorable day. 

  • HORSE OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES

  • Chacun Pour Soi

    The highest-rated chaser in training, Chacun Pour Soi enjoyed a near-perfect season, winning three Grade 1 races along the way. He was one of the stars at both the Leopardstown Christmas Festival and the Dublin Racing Festival with runaway Grade 1 victories and bounced back from a surprising reversal at the Cheltenham Festival to win the Champion Chase at the Punchestown Festival where he beat the Cheltenham winner Allaho in terrific style. 

     

     

    Flooring Porter

    In the colours of the Flooring Porter Syndicate, the Gavin Cromwell-trained Flooring Porter rose through the ranks last season to secure Grade 1 success at both the Leopardstown Christmas Festival and the Cheltenham Festival. His first win of the season came in a handicap hurdle at Navan in early December, three weeks later he was the all-the-way winner, again under Jonathan Moore, of the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle and he went straight to Cheltenham in March where he made all the running in the hands of Danny Mullins, replacing the injured Moore, to take the Stayers’ Hurdle in tremendous fashion.  

     

    Honeysuckle

    Kenny Alexander’s star mare again won all before her, topping a remarkable season with success in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Her season had begun with a second success in the Hatton’s Grade Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November, she won the Irish Champion Hurdle for a second time at Leopardstown in January, enjoyed her greatest day at Cheltenham in March and stretched a remarkable unbeaten run to 12 for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore with victory in the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown at the end of April.

     

    Minella Indo

    Minella Indo was another star performer from the Henry de Bromhead-team last season, winning the biggest race of them all under Jack Kennedy, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a first success in the race for de Bromhead. He led home a 1-2 for the stable that famous afternoon when seeing off A Plus Tard, adding to earlier wins during the season at Wexford and at Navan. 

  • Poetic Flare

    Jim Bolger enjoyed a magical time of it early last season, with a terrific success in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket with his homebred Poetic Flare. The same horse would just lose out in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh but scored a stunning success in the St James´s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot before taking the runner-up spot in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville. He rounded off a rewarding season when a close third in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. 

    Snowfall

    Snowfall was the outstanding middle-distance filly this season, landing a record-breaking 16-length win in the Oaks at Epsom in June and followed up with a facile success in the Irish Oaks at the Curragh the following month, becoming only the 15th to complete the double. Her season had begun with an all-the-way success in the Musidora Stakes in May and she returned to York in August to add the Yorkshire Oaks to her impressive CV. 

    St Mark’s Basilica

    St Mark’s Basilica built on the Group 1 winning form he showed as a two-year-old to win four top-level races this season. He completed a French Classic double with success in the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby before winning the Coral-Eclipse Stakes and then the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, remaining unbeaten in four starts in 2021 and retiring as the joint-highest rated horse in the world. 

  • POINT-TO-POINT AWARD NOMINEES

  • Colin Bowe

    For the ninth time in his career, Colin Bowe was crowned champion handler when the 2020/21 season came to a close in late May. Remarkably, despite the significantly curtailed campaign which saw pointing wiped out between January and the start of April, the County Wexford handler still enjoyed one of his best seasons to date as he sent out 44 winners and a further 59 placed finishers from a total of 216 runners. That was just one winner shy of his previous best, highlighting his dominance.

     

    John Nallen

    John had three weeks last spring that will last a lifetime, when two horses that he started out point-to-pointing went on to win two of the biggest prizes in racing. Minella Indo, which had made a winning debut for the hotelier in a five-year-old maiden at Dromahane in March 2018, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup almost three years to the day of his debut success, whilst three weeks later it was the turn of Minella Times to propel the Clonmel native back into the spotlight when he provided Rachael Blackmore with her first Grand National success at Aintree.

     

    Barry O'Neill

    Barry was unstoppable in the riding division during the 2020/21 season as he won the champion riders’ title for a fifth year in succession courtesy of 54 winners, almost three times the number of any other rider. Perhaps most notably, the Wexford native created history when he became the first rider to pick up all four of the regional titles in the same season, a feat which had not previously been achieved in the near 40 years since those titles were created.

    Pat Doyle

    Pat Doyle has long been synonymous with producing top-class performers through the point-to-point fields with Grade 1 winners First Lieutenant, Shattered Love, Death Duty, Bacardys, Brindisi Breeze and No More Heroes all starting their careers at Suirview Stables. This year Doyle’s Tipperary academy was responsible for no fewer than three Cheltenham Festival winners with Bob Olinger, Appreciate It and Colreevy coming home in front at Prestbury Park in March.

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