O’Brien Honoured for Outstanding Contribution

Aidan O’Brien was honoured yesterday with the Contribution to the Industry Award at yesterdays celebratory Horse Racing Ireland Awards at Leopardstown.

O’Brien had an outstanding year even by his never before seen standards, breaking the world record for the number of Group 1 winners trained in a calendar year.

Irish Champion Flat trainer in terms of prizemoney won in every season since 1999, O’Brien’s records are worth repeating so as to try to quantify their scale.

He became the first trainer to win the Epsom Derby in three consecutive years when Australia, ridden by his son Joseph, won in 2014, following on from Ruler Of The World and Camelot.

Camelot’s success was more remarkable as it was the first father/son trainer/jockey partnership to win a British classic.

The pair repeated the feat with Australia in the same race in 2014 and they also landed the Doncaster St Leger with Leading Light in 2013.

In October 2016, he recorded a magnificent 1-2-3 in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly when the Ryan Moore-ridden Found led home Highland Reel and Order Of St George.

O’Brien enjoyed his 300th Group 1/Grade 1 winner (Flat and National Hunt combined) when Highland Reel took the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and he would go on to set a new world record for the number of Group/Grade 1 wins in a calendar year.

Saxon Warrior set the new mark when landing the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and O’Brien brought his tally for 2017 to 27 winners at the highest level when Mendelssohn won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf early last month.

He was crowned champion trainer in Britain for the sixth time this year. That in itself is more times than every other irish trainer combined in the history of the sport.

The winners in seven categories were announced at yesterday’s reception at Leopardstown Racecourse which was attended by many of the industry’s leading figures.

Guest of honour was Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD and guests were welcomed by Chairman of HRI, Joe Keeling.

The winners of the 15th annual awards were as follows:

  • Contribution to the Industry Award: Aidan O’Brien
  • Horse of the Year Award: Sizing John
  • National Hunt Award: Jessica Harrington
  • Flat Award: Colin Keane
  • Outstanding Achievement Award: Joseph O’Brien
  • Point-To-Point Award: Barry O’Neill
  • Racecourse of the Year Award: Down Royal Racecourse

Sizing John, owned by the late Ann and Alan Potts, was the deserving winner of the Horse of the Year Award. He became the first horse to win three Gold Cups in one season with an unforgettable triumph in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, coming in between victories in the Stan James Irish Gold Cup in Leopardstown and a thrilling victory in the Punchestown Gold Cup.

“2017 saw Irish-trained and Irish-bred horses continue to raise the bar both internationally and here at home,” said Horse Racing Ireland Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh.

“Aidan O’Brien has been setting a standard for over two decades and this year went one step further with a phenomenal world record 27 Group 1 wins. From an unforgettable Cheltenham with a record 19 Irish-trained winners, right through to the Melbourne Cup success for Joseph O’Brien, this has been a year to remember and celebrate.”

The Racecourse of the Year Award was won by Down Royal, one of the most popular and progressive racecourses in the country. The racecourse has undergone a huge amount of development and improvement over the past decade, and hosts the first Grade 1 race of the jumps season every year. The award was presented to racecourse chairman Jim Nicholson and manager Mike Todd.

The award winners received specially commissioned bronze trophies created by sculptor Siobhan Bulfin.

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