As the 2019/20 point-to-point season has been brought to a premature end following the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it is now time to crown this season’s champions.
The INHS committee announced that in the midst of the current climate, the season would not recommence, and so this year’s awards are decided following 55 fixtures, the final two of which took place at Ballyragget and Ballyarthur on March 15.
There is a precedent for crowning champions in a foreshortened season, as back in 2001, when Foot and Mouth claimed the point-to-point season after February 25, Davy Russell was awarded the sport’s leading rider prize having ridden19 winners, in the final season to take place before the autumn campaign was introduced.
Forty-two winners this season, sees Barry O’Neill retain the overall title, a prize he has now won for the fourth year in succession.
He also adds a northern and eastern regional title to his collection for this year, sharing the latter award with Jamie Codd, who also claims the Senior title.
The other regional prizes go to Pa King in the South, his first award since winning the Under-21 prize 12 years ago, and Rob James in the West, ending Derek O’Connor’s 11-year run in that region.
The Champion Lady rider award is split three-ways between Maxine O’Sullivan, Moira McElligott and Liz Lalor, with another tie for the Under-21 prize, which goes to Ben Harvey and Brian Lawless.
Colin Bowe continues his domination of the Leading Handler prize, winning that trophy for an eighth time.
Of the equine awards, It Came To Pass is unsurprisingly the Champion Hunter Chaser, following his emphatic victory for the O’Sullivan’s in the Cheltenham Foxhunters, whilst the season’s only four-time winner, Eddies Miracle, is a deserving first Champion point-to-point horse title for his handler David Christie.
Sean McParlan’s Holycross Lito is the Champion Mare, in a season which saw her return back between the flags to record an impressive success at Loughanmore in the autumn, whilst the Beeches Stud’s Flemensfirth is the Leading Sire for the third time.
Jimmy and Eileen Furlong from Thistletown Stud won this years Breeders Award having bred four individual winners to win six races, these include; Jay Bee Why, Found On with Beatthebullet and Double Smart both winning two races each.
Champion Rider – Barry O’Neill (42 wins)
Champion Lady Rider – Maxine O’Sullivan, Moira McElligott, Liz Lalor
Champion Under-21 – Ben Harvey, Brian Lawless
Champion Senior – Jamie Codd
Northern Champion – Barry O’Neill
Eastern Champion – Jamie Codd, Barry O’Neill
Western Champion – Rob James
Southern Champion – Pa King
Horse of the Year – It Came To Pass
Champion Mare – Holycross Lito
Champion Pointer – Eddies Miracle
Leading Handler – Colin Bowe
Leading Sire – Flemensfirth
Breeders Award - Thistletown Stud