The Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee Annual Point-to-point awards took place at Dunboyne Castle on Saturday 18th June after a long-awaited three-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year Barry O’Neill is set to collect his sixth consecutive Irish Field Leading Rider award after recording numerically his third-best tally of 61 winners for the season. This season, O’Neill enjoyed a successful campaign, recording fifteen doubles and three trebles, becoming only the third rider in Irish point-to-point history to record 700 winners.
It’s not only the Leading Rider award that O’Neill will collect this year, as he will also uplift the HRI Northern and HRI Eastern Regional titles and he will also be accepting the HRI Southern region award in joint first place with James Hannon who recorded his first regional title this year.
Colin Bowe is no stranger to the Race Displays Ireland Leading Handler title and will this season record his 10th title championship. Bowe registered his most successful to date with 46 winners just one shy of Robert Tyner’s record.
After narrowly missing out on the 2018-19 Leading Lady Rider title, there was no hanging around this year for Susie Doyle as she recorded an impressive nine winners for the season and will be crowned this years’ P2P.IE Leading Lady Rider. Not only was this her statistically best season to date but she registered a 50% strike rate for the season and recorded her first double in April at Stradbally.
It was the Cork native, Brian Dunleavy who was the runaway winner of the TRI Equestrian Leading Novice Rider title (under 21) who recorded an impressive 13 winners this season, registering two doubles at Tallow and Knockmullen House. Dunleavy looks set to follow in the footsteps of Davy Russell, Adrian Maguire and Derek O’Connor.
Sam Curling’s mare La Feline, was the deserving winner of the ITBA Champion Mare title this season after recording three winners to her tally and was placed on all her 11 starts this season. The seven-year-old mare registered an impressive rating of 101 in the Open at Aghabullogue in January. Derek O’Connor was a regular partner to the mare, and was on board for all three of her victories.
It was Billaway’s year of redemption this season, after narrowly missing out on the Foxhunters at Cheltenham for the previous two years and at the Punchestown festival last year, he more than made up for it this year. Recording three winners from three starts this season for owner John Turner, Billaway was the deserving winner of the Tattersalls Champion Hunter Chaser after recording a Foxhunter double at Cheltenham and Punchestown festivals.
Shirocco came out on top in this year’s GOFFS Leading Sire award, with his offspring registering 25 winners. Standing at Rathbarry and Glenview Stud, Shirocco enjoyed a fruitful campaign this season with four of his four-year-old maidens fetching big money at the sales.
After an early-season battle for the Connolly’s Red Mills Champion pointer saw five horses grounded at four winners a piece for several weeks, it was David Christie’s Some Man who eventually came out on top after a late surge of wins. Having opened his account this season at Kirkistown in November, it wasn’t until the spring that we saw him really get into full flow, recording five of his seven wins over a period of seven weeks for owner Ray Nicholas.
This year’s HRI Eastern Regional title went the way of Barry O’Neill for the sixth time, having won his first title in 2017 and sharing the title with Jamie Codd in 2020. O’Neill tallied 17 winners for this season’s title.
Pa King took this year’s HRI Western Regional title recording 9 winners to his name. The spring season saw King register doubles at both Quakerstown and Loughrea which really boosted his title claims. This is not King’s first regional title in his career, having won the 2020 Southern Regional title with 13 winners to his name.
This year’s HRI Southern title went down to the wire at the last meeting of the year, with both James Hannon and Barry O’Neill sharing the spoils. Hannon had a strong and consistent start to the campaign registering a strong lead going into the final weekend where Barry O’Neill made up the numbers and recorded a treble. Both riders equalled 20 winners apiece, securing Hannon his first Regional title.
Barry O’Neill claimed his fourth HRI Northern title after registering his best tally to date in the region, with 17 winners to his name. O’Neill claimed the title in 2018, 2020 and 2021.
This year’s INHSC Senior Championship title went the way Of Derek O’Connor. It was O’Connor’s third title in this sphere having won it in both 2018 and 2019. This year is the first year that the award is eligible for those aged 38 and over. Previously this award was only eligible for those aged 33 and over.
Leading Rider: Barry O'Neill
Sponsored by The Irish Field
Champion Lady Rider: Susie Doyle
Sponsored by P2P.ie
Champion Under-21: Brian Dunleavy
Sponsored by TRI Equestrian
Champion Senior: Derek O'Connor
Sponsored by INHSC
Northern Champion: Barry O'Neill
Sponsored by HRI
Eastern Champion: Barry O'Neill
Sponsored by HRI
Western Champion: Pa King
Sponsored by HRI
Southern Champion: Barry O'Neill & James Hannon
Sponsored by HRI
Leading Handler: Colin Bowe
Sponsored by Race Displays Ireland
Horse of the Year: Billaway
Sponsored by Tattersalls Ireland
Champion Mare: La Feline
Sponsored by ITBA
Champion Pointer: Some Man
Sponsored by Connolly's Red Mills
Leading Sire: Shirocco
Sponsored by Goffs
Leading Breeder Award: Andrew Pierce
Sponsored by Weatherbys
Personality Award: Bernard Smullen
Sponsored by Healy Racing