Pat Smullen and Ruby Walsh receive ‘Irish Racing Hero’ honours

Grand National hero Tiger Roll crowned 2019 Horse of the Year

Both Pat Smullen and Ruby Walsh received "Irish Racing Hero" honours at the 2019 Horse Racing Ireland awards on Tuesday night.

The two champion jockeys, who retired within days of each other in May this year, were honoured at a function in Dublin attended by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

Smullen, the nine-time champion flat jockey, retired on medical advice due to his ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer.

Nevertheless he was central to a fundraising campaign for cancer trials that culminated in the Pat Smullen Race for Cancer at the Curragh on Irish Champions Weekend which raised more than €2.5 million.


Walsh, a 12-time National Hunt champion and the winning-most rider in Cheltenham festival history, bowed out at the Punchestown festival when winning on Kemboy on his final ride.

Historic hat-trick      

As anticipated, Horse of the Year honours at the 17th renewal of the HRI awards went to the dual-Aintree Grand National hero Tiger Roll.

The Gordon Elliott-trained star became the first since Red Rum (1973-74) to win the Aintree National back to back and has a potentially historic hat-trick in his sights next April.

Tiger Roll also landed a fourth career success at the Cheltenham festival in the Cross-Country Chase.

Rachael Blackmore and Jessica Harrington won the National Hunt and flat awards respectively while Gavin Cromwell landed the jumps achievement prize for winning the Champion Hurdle with Espoir D'allen.

Jockey Wayne Lordan secured the flat achievement honour on the back of a first Breeders Cup victory on Iridessa last month.

Naas was named racecourse of the year and the contribution to the industry award went to journalist and commentator Tony O’Hehir.

Irish Racing Hero Award: Pat Smullen & Ruby Walsh
Contribution to the Industry Award: Tony O'Hehir
Horse of the Year Award: Tiger Roll
Emerging Talent Award: Darragh O'Keeffe
National Hunt Award: Rachael Blackmore
National Hunt Achievement Award: Gavin Cromwell
Flat Award: Jessica Harrington
Flat Achievement Award: Wayne Lordan
Point-to-Point Award: Colin Bowe
Ride of the Year Award: Billy Lee
Racecourse of the Year Award: Naas

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column