Baileys Top Right


Champions Crowned | Further success for Cheltenham hero James

This year’s Western Champion saw a new winner in the form of Rob James, in what proved to be a particularly special year for the Wexford native.

One of just five riders to register more than one winner in the region, when he did venture West it so often proved profitable, as he ended the shortened season with a 56% strike rate in the region, with five winners from just 12 rides there.

He rode two doubles in the region, the first coming in October at Loughrea and then in February at the ever-popular Bellharbour fixture.

His last winner in the West was at Ballychane for his principal supporter Donnchadh Doyle, aboard Killer Kane, who then topped the Cheltenham Festival Sale when selling for £300,000.

Since riding his first winner in 2012 aboard Amber Hill, Rob James has enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks. 

With 219 winners to his name in the pointing fields to date, this is his second regional title success, having shared the Southern title in 2017 with Jamie Codd.

It was a special year for James as he recorded his first Cheltenham Festival winner aboard Milan Native in the Kim Muir in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud for trainer Gordon Elliott in March, whilst he added further success under rules, when guiding David Christie’s On The Sod to success in a Hunter Chase at Downpatrick later that month.

That was his second success of the season in the Hunter Chase division on a Christie-trained runner, having earlier enjoyed success at Clonmel aboard Some Man.

Those five winners in the western region, left him one clear of Cork rider John Barry, who had also finished third in the southern region. 

The perennial title winner in the region, Derek O’Connor, who had previously won this award for the last eleven years, finished in third in the region on this occasion.

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