Ana, Aidan and Joseph O'Brien pictured celebrating a success at Leopardstown.
Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien and his Piltown-based son Joseph were honoured at the Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) Awards at Leopardstown Racecourse - Aidan, who continues to enjoy outstanding success at the highest level around the world, received the Contribution to the Industry Award, whilst Joseph received the Outstanding Achievement Award.
The winners were announced at a 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.
Minister Michael Creed, Horse Racing Ireland Chairman Joe Keeling and Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, presented the Contribution to the Industry Award to Aidan O'Brien who has been a leading force in the industry for over 25 years. Irish Champion Flat trainer in terms of prize money won in every season since 1999, Aidan broke all manner of records in National Hunt in his early years and he continues to do so on the Flat to this very day. 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. Aidan 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 a new mark when landing the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and Aidan brought his tally for 2017 to 27 winners when Mendelssohn won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf early last month. Aidan was crowned champion trainer in Britain for the sixth time this year.
Horse Racing Ireland, Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh, said: “2017 saw Irish-trained and Irish-bred horses continue to raise the bar both internationally and here at home. 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”.
It was no surprise to see the Outstanding Achievement Award go to Joseph O'Brien who’s short training career has been nothing short of remarkable. He reached new heights when becoming the youngest trainer at the age of 24 to win one of the world’s most famous races, the Emirates Melbourne Cup with Rekindling which became the first three-year-old to win the race since 1941. Closer to home, another big race successes for Joseph in a memorable first full calendar year with a licence came courtesy of Tigris River in the Guinness Galway Hurdle while Rekindling also won the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown and the Curragh Cup. Joseph also has the distinction of saddling well over 100 winners since January 1.