The 2016/2017 Irish National Hunt Champions (l to r)) Eddie O'Leary, Willie Mullins, Rachael Blackmore, Nina Carberry and Ruby Walsh
Willie Mullins put in a thundering finish to claim the champion trainer title for a magnificent tenth successful season.
When the curtain came down on the 2016/2017 Irish National Hunt season at Punchestown on Saturday, Mullins had plenty to celebrtate after literally snatching victory at the finishing post.
Willie Mullins got the better of Gordon Elliott in a tremendous battle for the trainers title that went down to the final day.
The total prize-money won by Mullins trained horses was €4,580,200, which left him just under €200,000 clear of his great rival.
In all the Mullins stable sent out 571 runners during the season, producing 180 victories and 104 second place finishers.
The winners produced €3,259,713 in stake money, with the place returns amounting to €1,320,488.
Horse Racing Ireland chairman Joe Keeling made presentations to the season’s leading owner, trainer, jockey, amateur rider, conditional rider and lady amateur rider, and Mullins was honoured again (picture right).
For the fifth time, Gigginstown House Stud won the Champion Owner title.
The title of Champion Amateur Rider also went down to the wire with Jamie Codd edging out Patrick Mullins, in the last race of the season, by just one winner.
Walsh is champ
Ruby Walsh is Champion Jockey for a record 12th time and Tipperary native, Rachael Blackmore is the first female to win the Conditional Riders’ title while Nina Carberry is again the Leading Lady Amateur Rider.
One of the great talking points of the season was the race to be crowned Champion National Hunt Trainer.
The Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown has been good to Willie Mullins over the years.
He eventually reeled-in Gordon Elliott to retain his title, making up a €400,000 deficit during the closing days of the season.
Guinness Galway Hurdle winner Clondaw Warrior was Mullins’ biggest winner of the season.
Among his Grade 1 winners were Nichols Canyon, Vroum Vroum Mag, Djakadam, Douvan, Min and this week’s winners, Cilaos Emery, Great Field, Wicklow Brave and Bapaume.
With 193 winners, Gordon Elliott equalled Willie Mullins’ record for the number of winners in a season, which was set in 2012/2013.
Successful in the 2009/10, 2012/13, 2014/15 seasons and again last year, Gigginstown House Stud retained the Champion Owner title.
Their biggest success of the season came in the TheTote.com Galway Plate with Lord Scoundrel while there were notable wins in the Guinness Kerry National for Wrath Of Titans, the Lexus Chase with Outlander, the JT McNamara Munster National with Tiger Roll, the JNwine.com Champion Chase with Valseur Lido and the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase with Empire Of Dirt.
Winning hurdlers Apple's Jade, Petit Mouchoir, Death Duty and Ice Cold Soul also played their part.
Ruby Walsh has long had his 12th Champion National Hunt Jockey title wrapped-up. He ended the season on 131 winners, equalling his previous best tally, a record he set in 2007/2008.
Ruby’s most valuable success of the season came on Clondaw Warrior, part-owned by his wife Gillian, in the Guinness Galway Hurdle last July.
He also enjoyed Grade 1 success with Valseur Lido, Douvan, Min, Nichols Canyon, Djakadam, Vroum Vroum Mag and Bapaume.
Jack Kennedy, who only turned 18 a week ago, finished as runner-up in the title race with 68 winners.
Patrick Mullins and Jamie Codd have gone head-to-head all season in the race to be the leading Amateur Jockey. Jamie comes out on top with 41 winners to Patrick’s 40.
Jamie rode winners on Enniskillen, Fayonagh and Minutestomidnight at Punchestown to secure his first Champion Amateur title.
From Mayglass, County Wexford, Jamie is also the current Champion Point-to-Point Rider.
However, Patrick Mullins enjoyed over of the greatest days of his career as he rode three winners at combined odds of 535/1, including two in Grade 1 hurdles, at Punchestown on Friday.
He won the Grade 1 Betdaq Punchestown Champion Hurdle on 12/1 chance Wicklow Brave, winner of the Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger at the Curragh in September and matched that success when taking the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle on 10/1 shot Bacardys which just edged out Finians Oscar.
Both winners are trained by Patrick’s father Willie and the pair shared a third winner when Montalbano narrowly denied his better fancied stable companion Riven Light to win the novice hurdle at odds of 11/4.
Meanwhile, Rachael Blackmore is the first female jockey to win the Conditional Riders’ title.
From Killenaule, County Tipperary, Rachael only turned professional in March of 2015 and enjoyed her most notable success of the season at Naas in March when she landed the Ladbrokes Leinster National Handicap Chase on the Ellmarie Holden-trained Abolitionist.
Although Nina Carberry hasn’t ridden since announcing her pregnancy in early November, she collected the Mary Hyde Perpetual Cup for Leading Lady Amateur Rider with 20 winners.
Somehow landed the race of the day at Gowran Park on Sunday when taking the Listed Victor McCalmont Memorial Stakes for Aidan O'Brien and Seamus Heffernan.
Narrowly beaten on her seasonal reappearance, the daughter of Fastnet Rock was sent off the 6/4 favourite and came from the back of the field to record a convincing win.
Brian Nolan, who trains at Killeshin, County Carlow, was responsible for the only other winning favourite at the meeting.
His 2/1 chance Keep Believing added to his success at Navan at the beginning of the week in the 8 furlong handicap under Conor Hoban.
Jessica Harrington rounded off another special week when winning the conditions’ race with 4/1 chance Red Label which was ridden by Colm O’Donoghue.
A 5-1 winner
Willie McCreery teamed up with Billy Lee to take the opening maiden over the same distance with 5/1 chance Bumbasina.
The seven furlong handicap went the way of 11/2 shot Elusive Beauty which was ridden by Shane Foley for Ken Condon.
John Oxx was among the winners again as Naughty Or Nice made a winning start in the fillies’ maiden, the 20/1 chance scoring under Declan McDonogh.
Rory Cleary partnered 6/1 chance Not A Bad Aul Day to win the concluding eight furlong handicap for Johnny Feane.