As is customary on the final day of the Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown, the winners of the various categories in National Hunt racing were presented with their awards on Saturday afternoon.
The champions for the 2017-18 National Hunt season are:
Champion Owner: Gigginstown House Stud
Champion Trainer: Willie Mullins
Champion Jockey: Davy Russell
Champion Conditional: Donal McInerney
Champion Amateur: Patrick Mullins
Champion Lady Amateur Rider: Lisa O’Neill
Michael and Eddie O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud are the leading owners for the fourth successive season and for the sixth time in all. Their most valuable win came at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday when General Principle, trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by JJ Slevin, won the BoyleSports Irish Grand National.
Willie Mullins left it late to secure the title of champion trainer, only going to the head of the table on Wednesday last when he saddled six winners at the same meeting for the first time. The biggest contributor to Mullin’s record prize-money tally of €5,968,275 was Un De Sceaux which recorded three wins in Ireland during the season culminating in his Grade 1 BoyleSports Champion Chase at Punchestown on Tuesday. In total, Mullins saddled 212 winners this season, a personal best for the now 12-time champion trainer.
Davy Russell is champion jockey for the third time, with 119 winners. The Cork jockey first won the title in the 2011-12 season with 104 winners and held on to the crown the following season with a final tally of 103. His biggest single success came on the Henry De Bromhead-trained, Gigginstown House Stud-owned Balko Des Flos in TheTote.com Galway Plate and there were Grade 1 wins for the Youghal man on Death Duty in the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse, Apple’s Jade in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle and Mick Jazz in the Ryanair Hurdle at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.
Co. Limerick-born Donal McInerney is champion conditional rider with 33 winners. His highest-profile winner came here at Punchestown when he won the Friends First Cross Country Steeplechase for the La Touche Cup on the Enda Bolger-trained Auvergnat. During the season Donal rode winners for 18 different trainers.
Patrick Mullins, son of champion trainer Willie, is champion amateur rider for the tenth time. He lost out to Jamie Codd by a single winner in last season’s championship but regained the title this season with 57 winners. He won the Grade 1 BoyleSports Champion Chase on Un De Sceaux, as well as winning on board Getabird in the Grade 2 Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle last January. Forty six of his winners were trained by his father but he also rode winners for Gordon Elliott, Damian Murphy, Joseph O’Brien, Mags Mullins among others.
Lisa O’Neill has enjoyed her best season to date and is the Leading Lady Rider with a tally of 20 beating Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh, both of whom retired after riding winners during the 2018 Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown, by five and six winners respectively. The highlight of Lisa’s season was her victory on Potters Point, trained by Gordon Elliott, in the Guinness Kerry National at Listowel in September, her second successive victory in the €175,000 race.