Sea The Stars capped an amazing 2009 when he was unanimously named Horse of the Year at Horse Racing Ireland's annual Irish Horse Racing Awards in the Leopardstown Pavilion, Dublin today.
Sea The Stars, who wrote himself into the record books in 2009, beat out all other nominees to win 100% of the votes and another deserving award winning 2009 Horse of The Year.
Champion NH Trainer Willie Mullins won the National Hunt Award for the first time, having been nominated each year and pipped each time by jockey Ruby Walsh. Sea The Stars trainer John Oxx won the Flat Award for his immense achievements with his stable star and also Alandi in 2009.
The Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to Kevin Prendergast, a leading figure in the horse racing industry for the past 40 years, while Derek O’Connor, who once again re-wrote the point-to-point history books in 2009, claimed the Point-to-Point Award for the third time.
This is the seventh year of the awards, which are voted on by the Irish Racing Media to recognise excellence in the sport of horse racing.
In addition to the five main categories, Horse Racing Ireland presented jockey Michael Kinane with the Contribution to the Industry Award. Kinane confirmed his retirement from the sport last week at the age of 50 and had been consistently representing Irish racing at the highest level around the world for over 30 years.
The 2009 Champion Flat Jockey Johnny Murtagh was rewarded for winning the 2009 Flat Championship and thanked for his work as Flat Ambassador.
Reflecting on a challenging year for the sport, Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said: 'Despite the gloomy economic backdrop, 2009 was an outstanding year for Irish racing. Our flat horses dominated the major races throughout Europe, and we saw a once in a life time Champion in Sea the Stars.
'Our National Hunt horses enjoyed great success at home and abroad and, as we look towards 2010, it is very pleasing to see that success continue in the major national hunt races in recent weeks.
'We can reflect also with great pride on the fact that according to official rankings three of the top four flat horses in the world in 2009 were Irish. This is an industry in which Ireland is a genuine world leader and, given appropriate funding structures, that situation can be further enhanced in 2010.'
Some of Irish racing's achievements in 2009 were:
• Irish horses proved hugely successful at Epsom filling the first five places in the Epsom Derby, with the John Oxx-trained Sea The Stars leading home the charge under Mick Kinane.
• Sea The Stars had six magnificent Group 1 wins during the year, including the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown and the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
• Yeats deservedly earned his place in the history books by winning his fourth consecutive Ascot Gold Cup.
• Willie Mullins enjoyed a sensational Punchestown Festival with an unprecedented 12 winners, taking his fourth National Hunt Champion Trainers’ Title.
• Ruby Walsh won his seventh Champion Jockeys’ Title and his fifth in a row.
Winners & Nominees for the 2009 Awards are as follows:
Horse of the Year – Sea The Stars
Mastercraftsman, Mikael D’Haguenet, Notre Pere, Rip Van Winkle, Yeats
National Hunt – Willie Mullins
Jim Dreaper, Barry Geraghty, Ruby Walsh
Flat – John Oxx
Michael Kinane, Johnny Murtagh, Aidan O’Brien
Outstanding Achievement – Kevin Prendergast
Gary Carroll, Colm McBratney, Patrick Mullins, Paul Townend, David Wachman
Point-To-Point – Derek O’Connor
Robert Tyner, MJ (Mikey) O’Connor, Jamie Codd
Contribution to the Industry – Michael Kinane
2008 Horse Racing Ireland Award winners were:
Horse of the Year – New Approach
National Hunt – Ruby Walsh
Flat – Aidan O’Brien
Outstanding Achievement – Patrick Mullins
Point-To-Point – JT McNamara
Contribution to the Industry – Dave Fox