A total of 40 nominations have been made for the 2021 Horse Racing Ireland Awards which will be presented early next month.
The nominees have been selected across seven categories – Horse of the Year, National Hunt Award, National Hunt Achievement Award, Flat Award, Flat Achievement Award, Point-to-Point Award and the Emerging Talent Award - and the winners will be decided by a ballot of the Irish racing media.
The four nominees in the point-to-point category have been announced as Colin Bowe, John Nallen, Barry O’Neill and Pat Doyle.
For the ninth time in his career, Colin Bowe was crowned champion handler when the 2020/21 season came to a close in late May. Remarkably despite the significantly curtailed campaign which saw pointing wiped out between January and the start of April, the Co. Wexford handler still enjoyed one of his best season’s to date as he sent out 44 winners and further 59 placed finishers from a total of 216 runners. That was just one winner shy of his previous best highlighting his dominance.
John Nallen had three weeks last spring that will last a lifetime, when two horses that he started out point-to-pointing went on to win two of the biggest prizes in racing.
Minella Indo, who had made a winning debut for the hotelier in a five-year-old maiden at Dromahane in March 2018, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup almost three years to the day of his debut success, whilst three weeks later it was the turn of Minella Times to propel the Clonmel native back into the spotlight when he provided Rachael Blackmore with her first national success at Aintree.
The Suirview Stables of Pat Doyle has long been synonymous with producing top-class performers through the point-to-point fields with Grade 1 winners First Lieutenant, Shattered Love, Death Duty, Bacardys, Brindisi Breeze and No More Heroes all having started their careers with him in their formative years.
This year Doyle’s Tipperary academy was responsible for no fewer than three Cheltenham Festival winners with Bob Olinger, Appreciate It and Colreevy, who had all began their careers between the flags with Doyle, coming home in front at Prestbury Park in March.
Barry O’Neill was unstoppable in the riding division during the 2020/21 season as he won the champion rider’s title for a fifth year in succession courtesy of 54 winners, almost three times the number of any other rider.
Perhaps most notably, the Wexford native created history when he became the first rider to pick up all four of the regional titles in the same season, a feat which had not previously been achieved in the near 40 years since those titles were created.
Suzanne Eade, interim CEO of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “The number of nominations is a true reflection of the success enjoyed by Irish owners, trainers and jockeys in 2021. There were so many great days at home and abroad and these terrific achievements deserve to be honoured.
“Best of luck to all the nominees as they go forward to join our Racing Hero Award winner Rachael Blackmore on this year’s roll of honour.”