SHARK Hanlon left Hewick at home on Monday night when the Co Carlow trainer ventured to Dublin to collect the National Hunt Achievement Award in the Mansion House.
In case you were on the moon this year and missed it, Hanlon scored a notable hat-trick of wins with his new stable star Hewick. The T.J. McDonald-owned seven-year-old had Jordan Gainford in the saddle when landing the historic Sandown Gold Cup in April, adding the Galway Plate in July and rounding off 2022 with a famous win in the American Grand National in New Jersey in October.
After taking to the stage to the backing track of American Boy, Hanlon watched video tributes paid to him by Willie Mullins, Davy Russell, Danny and Patrick Mullins.
Of Hewick, the Shark said: “He’s an unreal horse, I’m lucky to have him.” He modestly described the American race as “a glorified point-to-point” but one which has 45,000 spectators and a lot of prize money!
Billy Lee was in top form as he collected the Flat Award.
The Limerick man enjoyed a terrific season and pushed Colin Keane all the way in the jockeys’ championship. His final tally of 89 winners was easily the best of his career and included Group 1 wins on the Paddy Twomey-trained La Petite Coco and Pearls Galore. Rosscarbery, Rumbles Of Thunder, Treasure Trove and Teresa Mendoza were also notable winners for the Ballingarry rider.
Reflecting on his battle with Keane, there were no sour grapes. “I enjoyed every minute of it. We’re the best of friends,” he said.
Dylan Browne McMonagle saw off strong opposition to win the Flat Achievement Award. The 19-year-old from Donegal easily retained his champion apprentice title with a final tally of 49 winners. He also enjoyed breakthrough Group 1 success on the Joseph O’Brien-trained Al Riffa and won Group 2 and Group races in France.
Sam Ewing is another exciting young weighroom talent. The Co Antrim 18-year-old won the Emerging Talent Award, having established himself as a leading dual-purpose jockey. He enjoyed a rather unique treble in early October when riding a Friday winner on the all-weather at Dundalk before traveling to Chepstow to win a valuable handicap chase on the Peter Fahey-trained veteran Peregrine Run the following afternoon and then landing the Welsh Champion Hurdle on Cian Collins’ Effernock Fizz at Ffos Las 24 hours later.
Liz Lalor’s achievement in becoming the winningmost lady rider in point-to-points was recognised when she was presented with the Point-to-Point Award.
Lalor created history in February when she rode the 110th winner of her career in the pointing fields to break Helen Bryce-Smith’s long-standing record. Now with 114 winners and heavily pregnant with her second child, Lalor took the opportunity to announce her retirement from the saddle.
The Ride of the Year Award was decided by a public vote and it went to Wayne Lordan for his ultra-patient performance on Waterville in the Irish Cesarewitch at the Curragh. Explaining how he came from last to first in a 30-runner handicap, he told listeners: “They were going too quick for him, so I thought if I just let him find his feet it might work out for me and it did.”