There were ten awards presented at the 20th annual Horse Racing Ireland Awards.
Leading owner JP McManus and Billy Lee were among those honoured at the annual Horse Racing Ireland Awards which were announced in Dublin on Tuesday evening.
Winner of the Contribution to the Industry Award, JP McManus is a 19-time champion National Hunt owner in Ireland. He has been associated with many of the top jumps’ horses for over 40 years, enjoying well in excess of 4,000 winners, a list that includes Mister Donavan, Jack Of Trumps and Deep Gale, big early winners in the famous green and gold hoops. The legendary Istabraq was a three-time winner of the Champion Hurdle, a race JP McManus also won on five other occasions, while the Cheltenham Gold Cup went his way with Synchronised and there was Aintree Grand National glory with Don’t Push It and Minella Times.
Billy Lee won the Flat Award. He enjoyed a terrific season, pushing Colin Keane all the way in the jockeys’ championship. His season’s tally was easily the best of his career and included Group 1 wins on the Paddy Twomey-trained La Petite Coco and Pearls Galore. Rosscarbery, Rumbles Of Thunder, Treasure Trove and Teresa Mendoza were also notable winners for the Ballingarry, County Limerick jockey.
Horse Racing Ireland Chairman, Nicky Hartery, commented,
“We are delighted to be hosting our annual awards in person for the first time in three years. While congratulating all our winners, a special mention goes to JP McManus who has given so much to the racing game and to the Kevin Manning who recently retired after a terrific 40-year career. Jack de Bromhead was among those who were remembered this evening. He is very much in our thoughts and I send my very best wishes to his sisters Mia and Georgia, to his parents Heather and Henry, and to his extended family and friends.”
The Kenny Alexander-owned Honeysuckle was crowned Horse of the Year for the second consecutive year. She extended her winning run to 16 races as she remained unbeaten for a fourth season, adding the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle for a third time, winning both the Irish Champion Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival for a second time before thrilling a record crowd of over 40,000 on the penultimate day of the Punchestown festival with a repeat success in the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.
The 2020 Award Winners
Contribution to the Industry Award: JP McManus
Irish Racing Hero Award: Kevin Manning
Horse of the Year: Honeysuckle
Emerging Talent: Sam Ewing
National Hunt Award: Henry de Bromhead
National Hunt Achievement Award: John ‘Shark’ Hanlon
Point-To-Point Award: Liz Lalor
Flat Award: Billy Lee
Flat Achievement Award: Dylan Browne McMonagle
Ride of the Year: Wayne Lordan
From Ballyclare, County Antrim, Sam Ewing is the winner of the Emerging Talent Award. Starting out as an apprentice on the Flat, Sam has established himself as a dual-purpose jockey, notably with no claim as a springboard for his career in the National Hunt sphere. What did help was a rather unique weekend treble in early October as he rode a Friday night winner on the all-weather at Dundalk before partnering the veteran Peregrine Run to win a valuable handicap chase at Chepstow the following afternoon and taking the Welsh Champion Hurdle on Effernock Fizz at Ffos Las 24 hours later.
The National Hunt Award goes to Henry de Bromhead. He again took the Cheltenham Festival by storm becoming the first trainer to complete back-to-back Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup doubles since Hatton’s Grace and Cottage Rake won for Vincent O’Brien in 1949 and 1950. Honeysuckle was the Champion Hurdle heroine while A Plus Tard gave De Bromhead his second successive Cheltenham Gold Cup win and a second successive 1-2 in the race when beating his 2021 winner Minella Indo to the line in March.
John ‘Shark’ Hanlon is the winner of the National Hunt Achievement Award. He scored a notable hat-trick of wins with his new stable star Hewick, the TJ McDonald-owned seven-year-old had Jordan Gainford in the saddle when landing the historic bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Sandown in April, adding the Tote Galway Plate in July and rounding off 2022 with a famous win in the American Grand National Hurdle Stakes at Far Hills in October.
Liz Lalor takes the Point-To-Point Award having created history at Comea in February when she rode Read To Return to victory, the 110th winner of her career in the pointing fields, to break Helen Bryce-Smith’s long-standing record to become the winning-most female rider in point-to-point history. Liz, a nine-time ladies’ champion rider, ended the season with her career total of 114 winners.
Dual champion apprentice Dylan Browne McMonagle is the Flat Achievement Award winner. The Letterkenny jockey certainly had another terrific year and he retained his champion apprentice title with a final tally of 49 winners. He hit the big time in 2022 with a breakthrough Group 1 success on the Joseph O’Brien-trained Al Riffa in the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh on Longines Irish Champions Weekend and also scored notable success in France, winning a Group 2 on Brostaigh and a Group 3 on Tranquil Lady.
For his last-gasp success on Waterville in the Friends Of The Curragh Irish Cesarewitch, Wayne Lordan landed the 2022 Ride of the Year Award. Davy Russell and Fran Berry were tasked with nominating six rides to be put to a public vote and Wayne’s winning effort saw him top the poll.