A total of 35 nominations have been made for the Horse Racing Ireland Awards, an increase of nine on last year.
The awards, which will be presented early next month, draw on nominees from across the Irish racing industry. Once again, a public vote will decide the outcome of the 2019 Ride of the Year winner with the contenders, chosen by Pat Smullen and Barry Geraghty, to be announced next week.
Eight category winners are decided by a ballot of the Irish racing media – Horse of the Year, National Hunt Award, National Hunt Achievement Award, Flat Award, Flat Achievement Award, Point-to-Point Award, Racecourse of the Year and the Emerging Talent Award which is a new category for 2019.
Members of the Racegoers Consultative Forum, the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, the Association of Irish Racehorse Owners, the Irish Jockeys Association and the Irish Stablestaff Association will also vote on the Racecourse of the Year Award.
The Point-to-Point category is made up of Colin Bowe, Sam Curling, Barry O’Neill and Maxine O’Sullivan.
A new category this year is the Emerging Talent Award and the nominees are Point-to-Point handler Peter Flood, joint-champion apprentice jockey Andrew Slattery, Joey Sheridan who rode 20 winners in his first season and Darragh O'Keeffe who rode out his claim this month and occupies second place in the jockeys’ championship.
The six nominations for Horse of the Year are dual Aintree Grand National winner Tiger Roll, Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo, Kemboy, successful at the Aintree and Punchestown festivals, three-time Hatton’s Grace winner Apple’s Jade and multiple Group 1 winners on the Flat, Magical and Iridessa.
Trainers Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott and Henry De Bromhead and jockeys Rachael Blackmore and Paul Townend are nominated in the National Hunt Award category. The Flat Award nominees are trainers Aidan O’Brien, Jessica Harrington, Ger Lyons and Joseph O'Brien and jockeys Donnacha O'Brien and Colin Keane.
There are six nominees for the Flat Achievement Award: Ken Condon for his success with Group 1 Prix du Jacques le Marois winner Romanised, Shane Crosse who improved on last season’s tally and rounded off the year with three Group 3 winners, Seamie Heffernan who landed the biggest win of his remarkable career in the Epsom Derby on Anthony Van Dyck, Denis Hogan for his handling of Make A Challenge, the winner of six races during the season, Wayne Lordan for his association with the fillies Hermosa and Iridessa and Matthew Smith who created Galway festival history and was a winner on Longines Irish Champions Weekend with One Cool Poet.
The four nominees for the National Hunt Achievement Award are: Jamie Codd who became the winning-most amateur at the Cheltenham Festival, Gavin Cromwell who landed his first winner at the Cheltenham Festival with the record-breaking Espoir D’Allen, Tony Martin for his continued success in the Guinness Galway Hurdle and Davy Russell who became the first Irish-based jockey to win consecutive renewals of the Aintree Grand National.