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Saluting the National Hunt champions

Unsurprisingly, Willie Mullins is champion trainer for the 17th time after a record-breaking season. January saw him win the 4,000th winner of his career, and this year he also set a new record for the number of winners in a National Hunt season.

“To win the champion trainer title is the icing on another great season for our team. Galopin Des Champs winning at the Dublin Racing Festival, and I am Maximus winning the Irish Grand National were two personal highlights for me. Winning titles like this wouldn’t be possible without our loyal owners who send us these wonderful horses. It’s a huge team effort at Closutton – our staff go above and beyond in all weathers and keep the show on the road so winning the champion trainer title is a tribute to everyone at home.” said Mullins

Paul Townend secured his first Irish Grand National success on I am Maximus, just one of his winners this season. He was crowned champion jockey for the fifth consecutive season and for the sixth time in all. At Punchestown, he notched up his 100th win of the season when Gaelic Warrior obliged, the fourth time he has reached that milestone.

Other important successes this season for Townend include Grade 1 successes on State Man, Galopin Des Champs and Facile Vega, while Energumene, Gaillard Du Mesnil and Ashroe Diamond were also special moments. On the final day of the season, he entered the winners’ enclosure with yet more Grade 1 victories with Echoes in Rain and Lossiemouth at Punchestown Festival.

Conditional Rider

This year’s only newcomer among the award winners was Michael O’Sullivan. He began the 2022/2023 season as a 7lbs claiming amateur and he ends it as champion conditional with three Grade 1 winners to his name.

Those winners all came for Barry Connell and saw him win the Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle with Marine Nationale, while there were further successes on Good Land at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival and of course victory at Cheltenham with Marine National in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Crowned champion amateur for the 15th time, record breaker Patrick Mullins enjoyed another stellar season. Home soil victories on Echoes in Rain, Fun Fun Fun and Predators Gold this week are the highlights of a year that saw him take his winning tally over the 750 mark.

For a third season in a row, the champion lady amateur rider is Jody Townend, another rider who is at the top oh her game. Her latest success came at Punchestown, in the Grade 3 Weatherbys General Stud Book Irish EBF Mares Flat Race. She said: “My season’s highlight has to be winning on Port Rashid and West End Victory at Thurles back in February – it was my first double and I lost my 3lbs claim in the process. Port Rashid is trained by my Dad, which made it extra special. He gave me my first winner on the track and my first winners over hurdles and fences too.”

For an incredible 20th time, the iconic JP McManus is named Champion Owner, his biggest success of the year came at Fairyhouse, where he landed the Boylesports Irish Grand National, helping him to a third successive title.

There were also Grade 1 successes in his traditional hooped colours, as Saint Roi stormed to glory at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival and Gentleman De Mee was victorious at the Dublin Racing Festival. Perceval Legallois, Ballybawn Belter and Risk Belle were other notable winners for McManus.

The Association of Irish Racecourses would like to congratulate the champion trainer, owner and jockeys on behalf of all our members nationwide.

By Leo Powell

Irish Field. 

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