Winners of The McCoys announced

Jump racing’s ability to stimulate parts of the body other sports fail to reach was amply demonstrated when The McCoys were awarded at in The Centaur at Cheltenham Racecourse last night (Friday, September 28)

Sub-titled ‘The Jockey Club Jump Awards 2018′, the ceremony was an opportunity to celebrate outstanding performances during the 2017/18 Jump season, and captured the attention of nearly 500 guests as one epic battle after another was relived.

It was the second staging of The McCoys, held last year as a regional celebration covering the four Jockey Club Racecourses in the South West, but, as Simon Bazalgette, Group CEO of The Jockey Club, explained in an opening address: “The success of that first event means we have been able to expand it to include racing achievements at all 11 Jockey Club Racecourses which stage racing over jumps.”

Former jockey Andrew Thornton, who retired from the saddle in June, received the occasion’s biggest reception when stepping forward to receive the Outstanding Contribution Award sponsored by Dodson & Horrell.

Recalling his memorable win on Kingscliff at Ascot in 2003, when the left rein snapped after the third fence, Thornton, whose short-sightedness gained him the nickname Lensio, said: “Apparently, after jumping two more fences, Carl Llewellyn, who was in the changing room, said, ‘Does the blind bugger realise the reins have broken?’ I believe he also said I had never looked so stylish!”

Thornton, whose award was decided upon by the panel of judges involving former trainer Henrietta Knight, journalist Steve Jones of The Sun, Cheltenham’s Director of Racing and Clerk of the Course Simon Claisse and Sir Anthony McCoy himself, said of his retirement: “I was just trying to plan the right time, but I walked into the changing room and saw the likes of James Bowen, Harry Cobden and Lorcan Williams and realised I was riding 10 years before they were born.

“I started at a great place, learning my trade with Arthur Stephenson, who made me amateur champion, and from there turned professional. I was never the most stylish, but it worked for me, and I’m proud to say I started riding before A P [McCoy], and was still riding after he finished. I’m stubborn.”

Thornton also hit a poignant note when saying: “One person I wish was up here with me now is Robert Alner and his wife Sally [who trained Kingscliff and Thornton's 1998 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Cool Dawn]. I wouldn’t be receiving this award if it wasn’t for them.”

Might Bite won the Shloer-sponsored Horse of the Season Award. His jockey, Nico de Boinville, was summoned by members of the winning syndicate, the Not Again Partnership, to join them on the stage for the ceremony, which was hosted by Alice Plunkett and Rishi Persad.

Might Bite’s groom David Fehily and De Boinville had been singled out for praise by syndicate members, and the jockey said: “Might Bite is a fantastic horse and such a joy to be involved with. He’s not the most straightforward, but that makes him all the more interesting.”

Tiger Roll’s third Cheltenham Festival win (in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase) preceding his Randox Health Grand National triumph at Aintree gained him the Judges’ Choice Award sponsored by W O Lewis Badges.

Sir Anthony McCoy, who presented the award to Tiger Roll’s trainer, Gordon Elliott, said of the horse: “He’s everything that is great about Jump racing,” while Elliott commented: “He’s a horse that everyone at home loves, and whenever we have visitors to the yard they all want to know, ‘Where’s Tiger Roll?’.

“This time last year I was wondering where we would run him, but he’s flying at home again, and we will be going down the cross-country route with him once more.”

Tiger Roll’s Aintree victory was a nomination for the Horse Performance of the Season, sponsored by Rosconn Group, but a replay of Native River’s pillar-to-post win under champion jockey Richard Johnson in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup in March left few among the audience in any doubt as to the deserving winner.

Native River’s owners, Garth and Anne Broom of Brocade Racing, received the award, and Garth remarked: “Credit for this must also go to [runner-up] Might Bite, who played his part – you need at least two good horses to make a great race – and also to Colin [Tizzard, Native River's trainer] who prepared him brilliantly. The horse gets on so well with Richard Johnson because they are as brave as each other.

“We saw Native River on Wednesday and he looked grand. We are expecting his first run to be in [Haydock's] Betfair Chase (G1, November 24).”

Trainer Jamie Snowden paid fulsome tribute to his employee, Kate Robinson, who was awarded the Racing Post-sponsored Stable Person of the Year.

Snowden reported: “Kate started with us 10 years ago when we had one horse, and she is still with us. She treats the horses like her own, and is always the first one in at the crack of dawn, and the last to finish work – for that reason we’ve built her a house on the yard. Kate is one of life’s hard workers.”

Robinson acknowledged: “We do this job because we love horses, but it is special to know you are appreciated.”

It will be some years before Oakley Brown can say he has matched Robinson’s time in racing, but the 16-year-old is on the right road, having ridden his first winner under Rules this summer.

Yorkshire-based Brown gained the Winner Events Pony Racing Achievement of the Season, following James Bowen, who took the inaugural award a year ago.

Clarissa Daly, chief executive of the Pony Racing Authority, received the award on Brown’s behalf, and highlighted the names of Harry Cobden, Bowen and Lorcan Williams as examples of graduates from her sport who are making a name as Jump jockeys. Daly said: “Richard Johnson has asked us to stop [supplying him with such strong competition]!”

Bowen and Williams both received Brewin Dolphin-sponsored McCoy statuettes for Conditional and Amateur Jockey respectively, and Harry Skelton gained the Professional Jockey award.

Skelton, the one person who looks capable of depriving Johnson of a fourth Jump Jockeys’ title – and led him by one, 85 to 84, on the night – said: “You have to keep driving forward, and things have been turned on their head for me in the past five seasons since my brother [Dan] started training. He looked after me as a kid and still does, but it’s a family operation and we all share the success.”

J P McManus’s son, John, collected the Bentley-sponsored award for Leading Owner with four or more horses – he also picked up the NAF-backed Leading Novice Hurdler award given to Apple’s Shakira – and brother and sister John White and Anne Underhill collected the accompanying award for owners with fewer than three horses – although they own an ace in Le Rocher, who won three times last season.

Another of Jump racing’s smaller teams gained NAF’s Hurdler of the Season award thanks to Star Foot, who also won three races at Jockey Club Racecourses. The seven-year-old’s owner, John Marriott, said: “It is particularly nice that a small yard like Jo Davis’s should get some recognition, and lovely that Jockey Club Racecourses has made sure that a middle-grade handicapper should win a prize. He was bought for not a lot of money and has been beautifully trained.”

UBS sponsored the Leading Chaser awards which went to two horses from Paul Nicholls’ yard. Johnny De La Hay, who owns novice recipient Cyrname, explained: “At the beginning of the season, he went hurdling, but it didn’t work out, so he switched to chasing and it was the making of him,” while John Hales, whose Politologue was the chaser of the season, declared: “We know we’ve got a right horse, a horse with a terrific amount of ability. Paul got him just right for Aintree and it proved to be a fantastic race, and for me the race of the season. On the run-in Min could have won it, we could have won it, and in the end we did – a great race.”

Nick Williams gained the Beach Independent Financial Advisors Leading Trainer statuette for yards with fewer than 40 horses, while Nicky Henderson took the more than 40 horses award.

Williams’ son, Chester, who is about to become a conditional jockey, collected the award on his father’s behalf, and said later: “We try to focus on quality, and have had winners at the last two Cheltenham Festivals – a winner at that meeting is massive, particularly when my sister, Lizzie [Kelly], is riding.

“We’ve now got the most horses we’ve ever had and a great bunch of young horses. My mum [Jane] has taken out a licence, but nothing has really changed, because she always had her own horses at the yard, and Lizzie and I get our share of the rides from Mum and Dad.”

West Country trainers Jeremy Scott and Colin Tizzard took frequent-runner awards, backed by Equi-Trek, for the four South West Region courses – Cheltenham, Wincanton, Warwick and Exeter, and Scott said: “This is an award that is worth winning for a yard of our size, but we are lucky to be based in the West Country, and therefore local to some very good courses owned by The Jockey Club.”

Full details of The McCoys 2018 

Nicky Henderson, Harry Skelton, James Bowen, J P McManus, Native River, Might Bite and Andrew Thornton were among the winners at the second The McCoys.

Founded in 2017, The McCoys are the exciting Jump racing awards for owners, trainers, jockeys, stable staff and horses running at all Jockey Club Racecourses.

The qualifying period for the second The McCoys was between May 1, 2017 and April 28, 2018 inclusive.

The awards are named the “The McCoys” after Sir A P McCoy, the record-breaking 20-time Champion Jump Jockey who retired from race riding in April, 2015.

The panel of judges for the 2018 The McCoys comprised Henrietta Knight, trainer of the three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Best Mate, Steve Jones, racing correspondent of The Sun, and Cheltenham Racecourse’s Director of Racing and Clerk of the Course Simon Claisse plus Sir A P McCoy.

The McCoys were presented last night, September 28, before an audience of almost 500 in the Centaur at Cheltenham Racecourse.

Please find details of the winners below.

Leading Owners, Sponsored by Bentley

Four or more horses – J P McManus

J P McManus comfortably landed the Leading Owner award (four or more horses), registering 34 winners at Jockey Club Racecourses, 10 winners clear of his closest pursuer, the partnership of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede. He is the most successful owner at The Festival™ presented by Magners, with 54 winners, and has won the Unibet Champion Hurdle a record seven times, including the latest two renewals with Buveur D’Air.

Three or fewer horses – John White & Anne Underhill

John White and Anne Underhill triumphed for owners with three or fewer horses. The partnership enjoyed great success with the Nick Williams-trained Le Rocher (wins at Exeter, Market Rasen and Warwick).

Leading Trainers, Sponsored by Beach Independent

More than 40 horses – Nicky Henderson

Nicky Henderson gained the Leading Trainer award for trainers with more than 40 horses, having saddled 68 victors across Jockey Club Racecourse in 2017/18. The Lambourn handler, the most successful British trainer ever at The Festival™ presented by Magners, saw off last year’s winner Paul Nicholls by eight winners. The Lambourn handler now has enjoyed 60 winners at The Festival™ presented by Magners and won the Unibet Champion Hurdle for a record seventh time in 2018 with Buveur D’Air.

Less than 40 horses – Nick Williams

Devon-based Nick Williams took this award (for trainers with less than 40 horses) for the second year in succession. He won a total of 14 races across all Jockey Club Racecourses, two more than his closest rival David Dennis. His winners were headed by Coo Star Sivola in the G3 Ultima Handicap Chase at The Festival™ presented by Magners, and Agrapart in the G2 Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

Leading Jockeys, Sponsored by Brewin Dolphin

Professional – Harry Skelton

A very close race for Leading Jockey (professional) saw Harry Skelton, who has a spectacularly successful partnership with his trainer brother Dan, take the honours with 40 winners, edging out by the narrowest margin Sam Twiston-Davies, who also partnered 40 winners at Jockey Club Racecourses but had less placed mounts.

Conditional Jockey – James Bowen

James Bowen hails from a racing dynasty – his father Peter is a leading Jump trainer, his older brother Sean is a top Jump jockey and another brother Mickey is also a trainer. James Bowen was a riding sensation during the 2017/2018 season, being crowned champion conditional with 58 successes. He was the leading conditional jockey at Jockey Club Racecourses, with 15 wins – three clear of his closest rival Bryony Frost. This is the second award at The McCoys for Bowen after he collected the Pony Racing Achievement of the Season statue last year.

Amateur – Mr Lorcan Williams

Lorcan Williams takes the honours for leading amateur. Williams, who is now a conditional jockey, was champion amateur last season and rode six winners at Jockey Club Racecourses, one clear of Tommie O’Brien and Hugh Nugent. Attached to the powerful Paul Nicholls stable, he is sure to be a name we will hear a lot more from.

Horse of the Season, Novice Hurdler & Hurdler, Sponsored by NAF

Leading Novice Hurdle – Apple’s Shakira

Apple’s Shakira, owned by J P McManus and trained by Nicky Henderson, is the Leading Novice Hurdler following a campaign that saw her win three times at Cheltenham. She kicked off at The November Meeting when successful in the G2 JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle by 17 lengths, went on to score again at The International in December and in another G2 event on Festival Trials Day in January. She was fourth in the G1 JCB Triumph Hurdle at The Festival™ presented by Magners and finished the campaign by taking third in G1 company at Aintree.

Leading Hurdler – Star Foot

Star Foot was a real star for his owner John Marriott and trainer Jo Davis in the 2017/18 campaign, winning twice at Market Rasen and also at Huntingdon. He narrowly takes the Leading Hurdler award (decided on wins) from dual Unibet Champion Hurdle victor Buveur d’Air, who also won three times, by being placed on one occasion.

Horse of the Season, Novice Chaser & Chaser, Sponsored by UBS

Leading Novice Chaser – Cyrname

A son of top-class two-mile chaser Nickname, Cyrname was a model of consistency throughout last season. Trained by Paul Nicholls for the de la Hey family, Cyrname was successful four times in total, including two G2 successes at Kempton Park. He also performed well on his two attempts in G1 races, finishing second in the Betfred TV Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park and fourth in the Big Buck’s Celebration Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree.

Leading Chaser – Politologue

Politologue, a grey owned by John Hales and trained by Paul Nicholls, took the award for Leading Chaser, with four victories at Jockey Club Racecourses. He began the campaign with three straight successes – in the G2 188Bet Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter, the G1 Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park and the G2 Unibet Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park. After finishing fourth behind the mighty Altior in the G1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at The Festival™ presented by Magners, he ended the campaign on a high when landing the G1 JLT Melling Chase at Aintree.

Horse Performance of the Season, Sponsored by Rosconn Group

Native River, Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, Cheltenham, Friday, March 16, 2018

Native River gained the Horse Performance of the Season Award, having won the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup in tremendous style. Owned by Brocade Racing and trained by Colin Tizzard, Native River was one of the leading chasers in the 2016/17 season, when he won the Hennessy Gold Cup and Coral Welsh National before finishing a close third in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup behind Sizing John. During the 2017/18 campaign he was kept fresh for The Festival™ presented by Magners and was not seen out until winning the G2 Denman Chase at Newbury on February 10. He then headed back to Cheltenham and made all for a gallant four and a half-length victory over Might Bite in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup under regular pilot Richard Johnson.

Pony Racing Achievement of the Season, Sponsored by Winner Events

Oakley Brown

Oakley Brown hails from the racing centre of Malton in North Yorkshire and has made a huge impact in Pony Racing, winning 20 races in that sphere between 2015 and 2017 and striking up a tremendous partnership with pony White Water. The highlights of the partnership included victory in the 148cm and under Charles Owen Series Finals at Newmarket in October, 2017. Oakley, who has also ridden successfully in point-to-points, partnered his first winner under Rules on the Richard Fahey-trained Third Time Lucky at York on July 27, 2018.

Frequent Runner Award, Sponsored by Equi-Trek

Trainers with less than 40 horses – Jeremy Scott

Trainers with more than 40 horses – Colin Tizzard

The Frequent Runner Championship is aimed at rewarding trainers who run horses regularly at the four Jockey Club Racecourses in the South West Region, namely, Cheltenham, Exeter, Warwick and Wincanton.

Judges’ Choice Award, Sponsored by WO Lewis

Tiger Roll

Owner Michael O’Leary has described Tiger Roll as a “…a little rat of a thing, but he has the heart of a lion”. With three wins in three different races at The Festival™ presented by Magners (the 2014 JCB Triumph Hurdle, the 2017 National Hunt Chase and the 2018 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase), the son of 2007 Derby winner Authorized is one of the most versatile horses seen in recent times. If that was not enough, in 2018 Tiger Roll added the biggest prize of all to his CV – the Randox Health Grand National. Starting at 10/1, the eight-year-old looked set for a comfortable success at Aintree, as he had a six-length lead at the Elbow before facing a sustained challenge from Pleasant Company in the closing stages. He held on for a head success, handing both owner (Gigginstown House Stud) and trainer (Gordon Elliott) a second Grand National success, while it was a first for jockey Davy Russell. One of the most loved Jump horses of recent years, he is a worthy recipient of the Judges’ Choice Award, Sponsored by WO Lewis.

Racing Ride of the Season, Sponsored by Natural Green

Patrick Mullins – Rathvinden – Cheltenham, National Hunt Chase, Tuesday, March 13

Patrick Mullins took the Racing Ride of the season following his never-say-die effort on Rathvinden in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at The Festival™ presented by Magners. Despite a mistake at the 11th fence, he made steady headway to take up the running at the last. Briefly headed on the run-in, Mullins galvanised his mount for another effort to get back up and deny Ms Parfois by half a length.

Horse of the Season, Sponsored by Shloer

Might Bite – Listed 188Bet Future Stars Intermediate Chase, Sandown Park 12/11/17, G1 32Red King George VI Chase, Kempton Par26/12/17 & G1 Betway Bowl, Aintree 12/04/18

Trained by Nicky Henderson for the Knot Again Partnership, Might Bite enjoyed an outstanding season, winning three of his four starts and running another excellent race when runner-up in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. After a facile winning reappearance at Sandown in November, he landed the Boxing Day highlight at Kempton Park, the 32Red King George VI Chase, by a length from Double Shuffle. On the back of that performance, he was sent off the 4/1 favourite for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup but found Native River too strong. There was certainly no disgrace in that defeat and he ended the season on a high when the seven-length winner of the G1 Betway Bowl at Aintree.

Stable Person of the Year, Sponsored by Racing Post

Kate Robinson

Kate Robinson has been Head Girl to Jamie Snowden since the Lambourn handler first took out his licence in 2008. She is in sole charge of the day-to-day running of the yard, and is an invaluable member of the team. She is a tireless worker, who does not rest until every job is completed. Kate grew up in Cornwall, where she spent most of her childhood with horses, and rode in point-to-points. After graduating from Aberystwyth University with a BSc in Equine Science, Kate spent four seasons as Head Girl on a point-to-point and breaking yard in Warwickshire.

Outstanding Contribution Award, Sponsored by Dodson & Horrell

Andrew Thornton

With a career spanning 28 years and a total of 1,007 winners, Andrew Thornton is a legend of the weighing room. When he began his career, Margaret Thatcher was still Prime Minister and Peter Scudamore was the reigning champion jockey. Five Prime Ministers later, Andrew Thornton brought down the curtain on his career, aged 45, at Uttoxeter on June 6, 2018, when he was successful on Amirr. His career included three winners at The Festival™ presented by Magners, headlined by Cool Dawn in the 1998 Cheltenham Gold Cup, while the same year he was also successful in what is now the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on the outstanding French Holly. He came close to landing a second Cheltenham Gold Cup on Sir Rembrandt in 2004, when the half-length runner-up to the great Best Mate. He also partnered See More Business to King George success in 1997. Always one of the most popular members of the weighing room, ‘Lensio’ (he was one of the first jockeys to wear contact lenses) is a most worthy winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award.

The McCoys, founded last year, celebrate outstanding performances at all Jockey Club Jump Racecourses during the 2017/18 season.

Europe’s leading horse feed manufacturer Dodson & Horrell was the main event partner of the awards, which reflected on the triumphs and the highlights of last season and exist to recognise the individuals and horses without whom Jump Racing would not prosper.

The success of the first-ever The McCoys, which were limited to the four Jockey Club Racecourses in the South West, but now have been expanded to take in all Jockey Club Racecourses over jumps, prompted the wider remit.

The Jockey Club Racecourses that host fixtures over jumps are Aintree, Carlisle, Cheltenham, Exeter, Haydock Park, Huntingdon, Kempton Park, Market Rasen, Sandown Park, Warwick and Wincanton.

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