sport

Fly honoured in HRI awards

Hurricane Fly made more history as he was awarded the prestigious title of Racehorse of the Year at the 11th annual Horse Racing Ireland awards

The Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old became the first horse to win the award twice.

Last month, the son of Montjeu galloped to a world record of 17 Grade One wins with victory in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown on a day that saw Ruby Walsh ride a five-timer and Mullins saddle seven winners at two meetings.

Mullins' brilliant hurdler overtook Paul Nicholls' outstanding chaser Kauto Star and legendary American Flat performer John Henry as the winning-most horse at the highest level with his eighth course and distance win.

He went through last season unbeaten in five Grade One hurdles and in doing so regained his Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham.

Hurricane Fly saw off strong competition, with the other nominees being Dawn Approach, Declaration Of War, Magician, Quevega and Sir Des Champs.

Mullins, 57, received the National Hunt honour after saddling an incredible 193 winners in Ireland last season, comfortably beating the previous best of 155.

Mullins, already closing in on his fastest ever century, was unable to be present as he has been supervising Simenon in Hong Kong.

His award was accepted by his mother, Maureen.

Johnny Murtagh capped a year to remember when named the recipient of the Flat Award.

Long regarded as one of the world's elite jockeys, the popular Murtagh now has a dual role as he trains from his base on the Curragh, having his first runner in the role through the Sheikh Mohammed-owned Fort Knox in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Murtagh rode 30 winners in Ireland from just 125 rides, and was responsible for 15 winners as a trainer.

Royal Diamond served him well in the colours of major backer Andrew Tinkler, and the emotion was there for all to see when the gelding landed the Long Distance Cup at the British Champions meeting at Ascot in October.

Murtagh's talents remain very much in demand for the big races, as witnessed by the fact he claimed five individual Group One winners last season, including the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes in tremendous style on Novellist for German trainer Andreas Wohler.

Murtagh said: "It's a huge honour and I'm privileged to be here. When you look at the other people in this category I really wan't expecting to win.

"I'm in a wonderful position, I'm training some nice horses and riding some really good ones again and they are winning."

Kildare jockey Barry Cash collected the Outstanding Achievement Award, which was open to a public vote for the first time, while Wexford native Jamie Codd received his first Point-To-Point Award.

Racecourse of the Year Award went to Dundalk Stadium. Revealing the track would not be resting on its laurels, chief executive Jim Martin said: "We are hoping to build the world's first floodlit jumps track, that's what our dream is."

In addition to the six main categories, HRI presented Jim Bolger with the Contribution to Industry Award.