Minister Simon Coveney proud of horse racing’s achievements

Updated: December 12, 2012
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Minister Simon Coveney spoke of his pride at the achievements of Irish racing at the recent Horse Racing Ireland awards lunch.

Rewards for Irish-bred horses kept on coming throughout the year, with success worldwide on the highest stage.

Coveney said: “The first seven horses home in the Melbourne Cup were all bred in Ireland, an amazing achievement. Six out of the nine winners at Longchamp on Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe day were also bred here, including the one Irish-trained winner, Gordon Lord Byron.

“Four out of the five winners at Ascot on British Champions Day were trained in Ireland, while Aidan O’Brien also had a winner at the Breeders’ Cup.

“There were 12 Irish-bred winners at Royal Ascot while eight of them were trained in Ireland and Aidan O’Brien won four of the five British Classics. It was such a shame he couldn’t win them all.

“Of course, Katie Walsh became the first woman in history to be placed in the Grand National when she finished third on Seabass and there was Tom Gibney’s heartwarming victory in the Irish National with Lion Na Bearnai.

“The spirit within the industry was never more on show than at Punchestown. Through atrocious conditions everyone pulled together to keep the show on the road and I’m convinced many other countries would have called it off.”

The Minister had recently sat in on the budget and was keen to give the racing industry every chance of flourishing.

“In the context of saving almost 90million euros in my department, we have asked racing to contribute 1million euros, which is substantially less percentage-wise than I’ve asked of others,” he said.

“In trying to protect the industry it will enable us to continue to compete on the international stage. We have to maintain prize money to attract the top horses.”

Camelot Crowned Racehorse of the Year

Horse Racing Ireland today hosted the 10th annual Horse Racing Ireland Awards in the Pavilion at Leopardstown Racecourse.  Irish Derby, English Derby and English 2000 Guineas winner Camelot was crowned 2012 Horse of the Year following in the footsteps of last year’s winner Hurricane Fly.

Last Season’s HRI National Hunt Ambassador Davy Russell won the National Hunt Award after becoming Champion Jockey for the first time in April, an achievement he had long aspired to.  Joseph O’Brien collected his second Flat Award in a row after a very successful season which saw him crowned Champion Flat Jockey just one year after winning the Champion Apprentice title – a feat that hasn’t been achieved in over 60 years.

Popular trainer Peter Casey picked up the illustrious Outstanding Achievement Award for his superb handling of the top rated novice chaser Flemenstar. Cork based Jockey Colman Sweeney claimed the Point to Point Award for the first time after defying all odds to lose over a stone in weight in one month, before going on to win his second Cheltenham Foxhunters Chase on Salsify.

The new addition to this year’s Awards – Racecourse of the Year – went to Ballinrobe Racecourse. It was selected by the Racegoers Consultative Forum based upon the best all round customer experience.

In addition to the six main categories, Horse Racing Ireland presented Moyglare Stud with the Contribution to the Industry Award. The Moyglare team including owner Eva-Maria Bucher Haefner, manager Stan Cosgrave and Fiona Craig were praised as one of the enduring success stories in Irish racing and breeding since the late Walter Haefner purchased the stud in 1962.

Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland remarked on 2012 saying:
“Despite the difficult economic situation, 2012 has delivered excellent results for Irish trainers and jockeys. Today’s award winners are a reminder of the strength and professionalism in our industry and I have no doubt that we will continue to see further successes at the highest national and international levels in the future.”

For further information please contact:-
Tamarisk Doyle, Communications Manager, Ph: 045 455685
IMAGES available of the Award winners from 4pm, Fennell Photography, Ph: 01 668 9766


 The list of Winners & Nominees for the 2012 Awards are as follows:-
Racehorse of the Year – Camelot
Dawn Approach, Excelebration, Hurricane Fly, Quevega and Sizing Europe
National Hunt Award – Davy Russell
Barry Geraghty, Tony Martin, Tom Mullins and Willie Mullins
Flat Award – Joseph O’Brien
Jim Bolger, Aidan O’Brien, Andy Oliver and Dermot Weld
Outstanding Achievement – Peter Casey
Tom Gibney, Tom Hogan, Niall McCullagh, David Nagle and Michael Winters
Point to Point Award – Colman Sweeney
Jamie Codd, Ray Hurley and  Derek O’Connor
Contribution to the Industry – Moyglare Stud
Previous winners:- Dermot Weld, Colm Murray, Michael Kinane, Dave Fox, Galway Race Committee, Con Collins & Kevin Prendergast
Racecourse of the Year – Ballinrobe
Ballinrobe Racecourse won the inaugural Racecourse of the Year award today at the 10th annual Horse Racing Ireland Awards. Selected by the Racegoers Consultative Forum based upon the best all round customer experience.

Profiles of Award Winners:

CAMELOT: Horse of the Year Winner
Having won the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on the second of his juvenile starts last season, Camelot was immediately installed as a warm favourite for the English 2000 Guineas and Derby and he became only the third horse since 1989 (Nashwan and Sea The Stars were the other two) when completing that famous double in great style. He then showed plenty of courage in taking the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on ground which was very testing before being prepared for a tilt at the English St Leger in his bid to become the first horse in 42 years to land the revered Triple Crown. However, he went down by less than a length to surprise winner Encke in the St Leger at Doncaster and then failed to show his true form when favourite for the Prix de l’Arc in October. The outstanding three year old middle distance colt in Europe in 2012, he remains in training next season where further big race success awaits.

DAVY RUSSELL: National Hunt Award Winner
With Davy it was a case that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again as having finished runner up to Ruby Walsh on several occasions and then Paul Townend last year, he finally became Champion National Hunt Jockey in Ireland for the 2011-2012 season and no-one deserved it more. He enjoyed plenty of big race successes along the way beginning with the Champion Chase at Quito De La Roque at Down Royal in early November and ending up with a fine victory on Rebel Fitz in the Guinness Galway Hurdle in early August. Sir Des Champs was unbeaten in five starts from taking a beginners chase at Fairyhouse in December to winning three Grade 2 races including the Jewson Novice Chase at the Cheltenham Festival while he rounded off his first season with success in the Grade 1 Growise Champion Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival.
Last Instalment was another exciting novice chaser that he was involved with winning The Florida Pearl Novice Chase at Punchestown in November and the Dr P.J. Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown in February while Dedigout was another Grade 1 scorer at the Punchestown Festival as he landed the Cathal Ryan Memorial Novice Hurdle and the likes of Rathlin, Knockfierna, Bog Warrior and His Excellency were other notable contributors to a memorable year for this popular Cork native.

JOSEPH O’BRIEN: Flat Award Winner
A wonderful year for young Joseph O’Brien as he became the youngest rider to become Champion Jockey in Ireland for well over 50 years just three years after riding his first winner on Johann Zoffany at Leopardstown in May 2009. He had a protracted battle with six time champion Pat Smullen for the majority of the season before proving the victor by a margin of three but that was only just one of several highlights for Joseph during the year. For starters, he completed the English 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby double on Camelot on whom he also won the Irish Derby, Power gave him a second consecutive success in the Irish 2000 Guineas while So You Think took the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh and the Prince Of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot. Other big race wins came on Excelebration in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Champions Day while Kingsbarns will have him dreaming of further glory next year after taking the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and old favourite St Nicholas Abbey landed the Coronation Cup at Epsom before Imperial Monarch scored in the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp in July. Joseph will always have to battle hard to keep his weight under control but if he can manage to do so, 2013 looks like being another year of big race successes for this very talented young man.

PETER CASEY: Outstanding Achievement Winner
One of the most colourful characters in racing, Peter Casey fully deserves his nomination in this category for his superb handling of the top rated novice chaser Flemenstar. A promising sort over hurdles, he tasted defeat at the hands of Bog Warrior in his first chase at Navan in November but was subsequently unbeaten in five races thereafter. Having returned to Navan to win his beginners event he then missed the Leopardstown Christmas Festival in favour of an easier assignment at Naas in early January before running out a most impressive winner of the Grade 1 Arkle Challenge Cup at Leopardstown later that month. Peter then resisted the obvious temptation of bringing his stable start to the Cheltenham Festival and was rewarded for this decision with another graded success at Naas in March before confirming himself to be a horse of real quality with a fine performance to win the Grade 1 Powers Gold Cup at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival.

COLMAN SWEENEY: Point To Point Winner
In 2005, Colman Sweeney won the Cheltenham Foxhunters’ Chase for Paul Nicholls on Sleeping Night and only two days later at Liscarroll he won the five-year-old maiden at Liscarroll on the subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Denman by 12 lengths. This time last year, he hadn’t ridden for some time but with his father, Rodger having the exciting Salsify, he decided to make a comeback. He lost over a stone in a month to ride a winner at Leadington aboard Green Flag early this year. A little over a month later he steered Salsify to success at Leopardstown and seven years on from his success in the Foxhunters’, he repeated the trick, dropping Salsify a long way off the testing pace early on before outbattling Chapoturgeon up the famlous hill. Sweeney and Salsify later combined to become the first horse to follow up the Cheltenham Foxhunters’ with the Champion Hunter Chase at Stratford

BALLINROBE: Racecourse of the Year Award
Racing began in the Ballinrobe area back in 1773 and has been taking place at the racecourse’s current location since 1921.

In recent times Ballinrobe has invested approximately €4.5 million in their facilities to improve every aspect of the racegoing experience. Significant improvements have seen the addition of a Pavilion linking the grandstand to the new Tote building, a new Weighroom with a dining facility on the floor above, a new self-service restaurant and new bar facilities, betting shop and entrance building. The core essentials have not been forgotten either, with improvements to the car park and ladies and gents toilet facilities, as well as additional viewing terraces below the grandstand.

Racing exclusively on Monday and Tuesday evenings from late April to late September, Ballinrobe racecourse attracts good crowds to all nine of its fixtures. There are frequent themed race meetings, additional entertainment is regularly provided and this is very much a family-friendly racecourse.

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