As the 2016-17 Irish National Hunt season draws to a close, the titles of Champion Trainer and Champion Amateur Rider are still up for grabs and results at Fairyhouse’s Easter Festival may go a long way to deciding both titles.
Heading into the three-day meeting at Fairyhouse, Gordon Elliott leads Willie Mullins by €361,780 in the race to become Champion Trainer and the €500,000 BoyleSports Irish Grand National on Easter Monday could well be the crucial race. While Elliott certainly holds the strongest hand in Ireland’s most valuable National Hunt race, reigning champion Willie Mullins will be hoping that two of his Cheltenham Festival winners, Let’s Dance and Yorkhill, can capture both the Grade 1 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final and the Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Novice Chase respectively at Fairyhouse on Easter Sunday. Both races are worth €59,000 to the winner
Patrick Mullins and Jamie Codd have gone toe-to-toe all season in the race to be the leading amateur jockey and head into the Easter weekend tied on 34 winners. Patrick won the title of Champion Amateur Rider for the first time in the 2007-08 season and has retained it ever since.
With 126 winners to date, Ruby Walsh leads Jack Kennedy by 63 winners which will guarantee him his 12th Champion Jockey title at season’s end.
Rachael Blackmore looks to have done more than enough to secure the Conditional Riders’ title as, with 29 winners, she leads Donagh Meyler by five with a little over two weeks of the season remaining. Her most notable success came at Naas last month when she landed the Ladbrokes Leinster National Handicap Chase on the Ellmarie Holden-trained Abolitionist. Rachael will also collect the Mary Hyde Perpetual Cup as the Leading Lady Rider. Nina Carberry hasn’t ridden since announcing her pregnancy in early September and she will finish runner-up with 20 winners, the same number that saw her crowned the leading lady rider last season.
Gigginstown House Stud will be crowned Champion Owner for the fifth time. Notable performers in the famous maroon and white colours included TheTote.com Galway Plate hero Lord Scoundrel, Guinness Kerry National winner Wrath Of Titans, Tiger Roll which was successful in the JT McNamara Munster National, the JNwine.com Champion Chase winner Valseur Lido, Ladbrokes Troytown Chase winner Empire Of Dirt and Lexus Chase winner Outlander. Winning hurdlers Apple’s Jade, Petit Mouchoir, Death Duty and Ice Cold Soul also played their part as Gigginstown House Stud retain their title.
The winners of the six championship titles will be crowned on the final day of the season at the Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown on Saturday, April 29th.