It was a good day for the O'Brien family at this year's Horse Racing Ireland Awards, with Aidan and his son Joseph recognised for their training achievements, while Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Sizing John was named Horse of the Year.
Aidan O'Brien, who this year broke the world record for the number of top-level winners trained in a calendar year, was honoured with the Contribution to the Industry Award at today's reception at Leopardstown Racecourse.
O'Brien has been a leading force in the industry for over 25 years and has been champion flat trainer in terms of prize money won in every season since 1999. His early career also saw him break all manner of records in the National Hunt sphere.
The handler enjoyed his 300th Group 1/Grade 1 winner (Flat and National Hunt combined) when Highland Reel took the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
Saxon Warrior set a new world record mark of 26 for the number of top-flight wins in a season when landing the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. The Ballydoyle maestro then brought his tally for 2017 to 27 winners when Mendelssohn won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf early last month.
O'Brien was also crowned champion trainer in Britain for the sixth time this season.
His son Joseph O'Brien received the Outstanding Achievement Award in a year when, at the age of 24, he became the youngest trainer to win the Melbourne Cup. Rekindling was the first three-year-old to claim the feature event since 1941.
O'Brien jnr also saddled Tigris River to win the Guinness Galway Hurdle while Rekindling also won the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown and the Curragh Cup.
Sizing John became the first horse to win three Gold Cups in one season with an unforgettable triumph in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, coming in between victories in the Stan James Irish Gold Cup in Leopardstown and a thrilling victory in the Punchestown Gold Cup.
Sizing John's trainer Jessica Harrington received the National Hunt Award. As well as completing a notable hat-trick with the seven-year-old, Harrington also sent out Our Duke to land the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse. She became the leading female trainer at the Cheltenham Festival when bringing her tally to 11 winners with the victories of Supasundae and Rock The World.
Colin Keane was the winner of the Flat Award. Having finished runner-up in the last two Irish Flat Jockeys’ Championships, the 23-year-old Meathman went one better in 2017 clinching a memorable first title with 100 winners, winning by 12.
His boss Ger Lyons supplied him with 67 winners during the year with Psychedelic Funk’s victory in the Concorde Stakes at Tipperary and Treasuring’s triumph in the Curragh Stakes two main highlights.
Keane also teamed up with the English-trained Realtra to win both the EBF Brownstown Stakes at Fairyhouse and the Fairy Bridge Stakes at Tipperary while a memorable year was wrapped up as he recorded his first Group 1 success on the Tony Martin-trained Laganore in the Premio Lydia Tesio in Italy.
The Point-To-Point Award went to Barry O’Neill for the first time. The Wexford pilot broke the 13-year stranglehold on the championship set by Derek O’Connor and 2016 HRI award winner Jamie Codd. O'Neill went to the top of the leading riders’ table at Tinahely in October 2016 and maintained his advantage for the remainder of the season.
The Racecourse of the Year Award was won by Down Royal. The Lisburn venue has undergone a huge amount of development and improvement over the past decade, and hosts the first Grade 1 race of the jumps season every year.