ALPHA CENTAURI AND COLM O'DONOGHUE
Four-time Group 1 winner Alpha Centauri has been voted Horse of the Year in Horse Racing Ireland’s 2018 Awards which were presented at a gala dinner in Dublin on Tuesday night.
Trained by Jessica Harrington for the Niarchos family and ridden by Colm O’Donoghue, Alpha Centauri won the Irish 1,000 Guineas, the Coronation Stakes, the Falmouth Stakes and the Prix Jacques Le Marois before having to be retired after suffering an injury when second in the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown in September.
Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh, who brought the curtain down on their highly successful careers with winners at the Punchestown festival, were honoured with the inaugural Irish Racing Hero Award while on a big night for female riders.
Rachael Blackmore, current leader of the jump jockeys championship, received the National Hunt Achievement Award.
The overall National Hunt award went to champion trainer Willie Mullins who enjoyed another remarkable year, maintaining his grip on the Irish National Hunt Trainers’ Championship.
He recorded a record total of 212 winners last season and saddled 18 winners at the Punchestown festival, a total that included winning six out of seven races on the Wednesday.
He became the winning-most trainer in the history of the Cheltenham Festival with 61 winners, seven of which came last March, and achieved a personal milestone of 3,000 career winners when Timi Roli won at Wexford in June.
Donnacha O’Brien’s red letter year won him the main Flat Award. He won the jockeys’ championship with 111 winners and partnered three Classic winners – Saxon Warrior and Forever Together in Britain and Latrobe, trained by his brother, Joseph, in the Irish Derby.
The exploits of two-year-old filly Skitter Scatter, who rounded off an excellent season by winning the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes, won her trainer Patrick Prendergast the Flat Achievement Award.
The winners of the 16th annual awards were as follows:
Irish Racing Hero Award: Katie Walsh & Nina Carberry
Contribution to the Industry Award: Dr Adrian McGoldrick
Horse of the Year Award: Alpha Centauri
National Hunt Award: Willie Mullins
Flat Award: Donnacha O’Brien
National Hunt Achievement Award: Rachael Blackmore
Flat Achievement Award: Patrick Prendergast
Point-To-Point Award: Barry O’Neill
Ride of the Year Award: Derek O’Connor
Racecourse of the Year Award: Punchestown Racecourse
Dr Adrian McGoldrick, who retires this year as chief medical officer of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, was presented with the Contribution to the Industry Award.
The Newbridge-based GP has held the position since 2007 and was universally acclaimed for his efforts in improving jockeys’ safety and has been hailed for his research into areas including athletes’ dehydration, concussion, nutrition and mental health. Dr McGoldrick served as racecourse doctor at the Curragh for over 30 years.
The inaugural Ride Of The Year, voted for by the public from six nominations chosen by Ruby Walsh and Johnny Murtagh, was won by Derek O’Connor for his ride on Edwulf to win the Unibet Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February.
Guest of honour was Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD and guests were welcomed by chairman of HRI, Nicky Hartery.
The award winners received specially commissioned bronze trophies created by sculptor Siobhan Bulfin.