SUSIE Doyle finally got her hands on the Lady Riders Trophy and nobody could begrudge it to her, having finished second for the past three seasons.

The increase in the number of female riders in point-to-points has been noticeable in recent years. The ladies hit a slump after the golden years of sisters Rosemary Rooney and Ann Ferris winning the overall titles in the 1970s.

It took until this year for Liz Lalor to pass Helen Bryce-Smith’s record total of winners and best wishes were sent by all at the awards to Liz as she continues her recovery from injury.

Liz was one of 17 ladies to ride a winner in points this season and, remarkably, 11 of those women were riding their first winner, so there could be another Rachael Blackmore or two about to emerge.

But even Rachael would struggle to match Susie Doyle’s strike-rate of nine winners from 18 rides this season.

James Hannon was a well-deserved winner of the HRI-sponsored Southern Region Champion Rider Award, a title he shared with Barry O’Neill.

James has been riding winners since 2003 and, as MC Richard Pugh put it, he is maturing like a fine wine as most of his 128 career winners have come in the past five years.

James is in great demand in the southern region but he doesn’t travel too far. All 20 of his winners this season came in the south, where Chris O’Donovan also came close to taking the title.

With just 12 fixtures annually, the Western Region is the tightest of them all and it was won by Pa King, who had his best ever season with 27 winners overall. Pa’s strike-rate of 23% is particularly impressive.

When Brian Dunleavy rode his first winner just before Covid struck, he told his racing idol was Davy Russell. Now Brian has emulated his hero by winning the TRI Champion Novice Rider title.

From Dungourney in Co Cork, Brian rode 13 winners and had over 100 rides, making him the most in-demand novice rider in the country.

Restricted to under 21s, this award has been won by Adrian Maguire, Timmy Murphy, Derek O’Connor, J.T. McNamara and Barry O’Neill in the past.

Alex Harvey was not present to pick up the INHSC Spring Novice Rider Award as he is in the States working for Keri Brion. Alex rode seven winners this season, including a vital success on the final weekend to pip Josh Berry and Troy Walsh for this title, which is decided on points earned. The autumn series for novice riders was won by Alan Harney. Alex’s prize included €1,500 which was collected by his brother Ben, who also rode seven winners this season and went close in the novice riders’ title.

“He doesn’t just break records, he doubles them.” That’s how MC Richard Pugh described Derek O’Connor who was crowned INHSC Champion Senior Rider for the third time. Derek was unable to attend on the night but sent his appreciation via video message.

Incidentally, the senior category is now restricted to riders aged 38 and older. The qualifying age was raised to reflect the increased longevity of rider today.