J P McManus, Paul Nicholls, Harry Cobden, James Bowen, Many Clouds and Ollie McPhail are among the winners at the inaugural The McCoys South West Jump Awards, detailed of which were revealed on the evening of Friday, September 29.
The McCoys are exciting new awards for owners, trainers, jockeys, stable staff and horses running at Cheltenham and the three other Jockey Club Racecourses in the South West of England - Warwick, Wincanton and Exeter. The qualifying period for the inaugural awards was between September 20, 2016 and May 25, 2017 inclusive.
The awards are named the “The McCoys” after Sir A P McCoy, the recording-breaking 20-time Champion Jump Jockey who retired from race riding in April, 2015.
The panel of judges for the McCoys comprised broadcaster and Cheltenham Racecourse Committee member Alice Plunkett, Regional Head of Racing Simon Claisse, Chris Cook, a racing journalist for The Guardian, and Sir A P McCoy.
The McCoys were presented before an audience of 450 in the Centaur at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Please find details of the winners below.
Frequent Runner Awards
Trainers with less than 40 horses – Jeremy Scott
Trainers with more than 40 horses – Paul Nicholls
The Frequent Runner Championship is aimed at rewarding trainers who run horses regularly at Jockey Club Racecourses in the South West Region, namely, Cheltenham, Exeter, Warwick and Wincanton.
Four or more horses – J P McManus
J P McManus comfortably landed the honours in the leading owner category, registering 20 winners across the four courses, 13 clear of his closest pursuer, the partnership of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.
Three or fewer horses – Colm Donlon & Adrian Doyle
Colm Donlon and Adrian Doyle, longstanding owners with Paul Nicholls, narrowly secured the honours in the category for leading owner with three or fewer horses. The duo registered three wins and three places during the campaign, just securing the nod over Jane Edgar, who also achieved three winners and two places.
Less than 40 horses – Nick Williams
Devon-based Nick Williams enjoyed a superb season, headed by the successes of Flying Tiger in the G3 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at The Festival in March. He takes the honours for leading trainer with less than 40 horses in training, having trained seven winners in the South West Region
More than 40 horses - Paul Nicholls
The 10-time champion trainer narrowly failed to secure an 11th championship in 2016/17, going down to Nicky Henderson in a race that went all the way to the last day of the season. The Ditcheat-based handler was still well on top in the Jockey Club South West Region however, with 48 winners, 30 clear of second-placed Philip Hobbs in the category for trainers with over 40 horses in training.
Professional – Noel Fehily
A very close finish to be leading jockey in the South West Region went right down to the wire and it was Noel Fehily who came out on top with 28 winners, narrowly edging out Richard Johnson on 25 winners. A memorable season for Fehily was capped by his success on Buveur D'Air in the Stan James Champion Hurdle and Special Tiara in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at The Festival.
Conditional Jockey – Harry Cobden
Harry Cobden was crowned champion in a superb season for the 18-year-old, who is based with Paul Nicholls. Cobden recorded 23 victories in the South West region, 18 clear of his closest rivals, with Graded victories on Frodon and Viconte Du Noyer at Cheltenham being the highlights.
Amateur – Miss Page Fuller
A very close battle for the leading amateur jockey saw Page Fuller, Bryony Frost and Michael Legg all ride three winners, with Fuller coming out on top by virtue of partnering more placed horses.
Horses of the season
Novice Hurdler – Wholestone
Wholestone, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, won four times during the course of the campaign. Three of his four victories came at Cheltenham and included two G2 prizes. He ended the campaign with an excellent third in the G1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival.
Hurdler - Sceau Royal
Also owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, Sceau Royal won twice during the season, with his biggest victory coming in the G2 Stan James Elite Hurdle at Wincanton. Trained by Alan King, the five-year-old also ran a good race at The Festival when sixth in the G1 Stan James Champion Hurdle.
Novice Chaser – Only Gorgeous
A real Exeter specialist, Only Gorgeous won three times at the Devon venue for owner Jane Edgar and trainer Sue Gardner. The eight-year-old was partnered by Lucy Gardner for all three of those wins and demonstrated his versatility by winning over distances ranging from two miles and three furlongs to an extended three and three-quarter miles.
Chaser – Dance Floor King
Dance Floor King, trained by Nick Mitchell for owner Nick Elliott, is the leading chaser with two wins and more placed efforts than any of his rivals. The 10-year-old was successful at Wincanton and Exeter.
Judges’ Choice Award
Sizing John winning the Timico Gold Cup, Cheltenham, March 17, 2017
Sizing John joined Jessica Harrington’s yard at the start of last season. Previously campaigned at between two and two and half miles, Harrington made the decision to step up Sizing John to three miles in the G1 Stan James Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February, when he put a game performance to win by three quarters of a length. He then headed to the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup over an extended three and a quarter miles at The Festival when he was superbly produced by Robbie Power to win comfortably by two and three quarter lengths from Minella Rocco. It capped a tremendous week for Harrington and Power, who teamed up for three winners at The Festival. Sizing John went on to win the G1 Punchestown Gold Cup and is disputing favouritism for the 2018 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. A sad postscript to the season was the death of joint-owner Ann Potts in August following a long illness. Ann had been present alongside husband Alan for Sizing John’s Gold Cup victory.
Pony Racing Achievement of the Season
James Bowen is the son of trainer Peter Bowen and his wife Karen and the younger brother of Mickey, a leading point-to-point handler, and champion conditional jockey Sean. In common with Sean, James is a graduate of pony racing and is fast making his marks a jockey. James set a record for most wins by a novice rider in the latest point-to-point season, breaking the record at Chaddesley Corbett in May and ending the season with 30 winners. His success was even more remarkable given that he was not able to ride until his 16th birthday on March 12, several months into the season. He is now riding as a conditional and looks assured of carrying on his family’s tremendous achievements, having recently teamed up with trainer Nicky Henderson.
Racing Ride of the Season
Adrian Heskin on Sir Valentino –188Bet Haldon Gold Cup, Exeter, 01/11/2016
Adrian Heskin takes the honours for racing ride of the season following his never say die effort aboard Sir Valentino, trained by his boss Tom George, in the G2 188Bet Haldon Gold Cup. Sir Valentino still had plenty to do after jumping the last, but was urged on by Heskin to get up and defeat favourite Garde La Victoire by a short-head.
Horse Performance of the Season
Many Clouds – BetBright Cotswold Chase, Cheltenham, 29/01/2017
The late Many Clouds, owned by Trevor Hemmings, trained by Oliver Sherwood and ridden by Leighton Aspell throughout his career, was judged by the panel to have put up the performance on the season when winning the G2 BetBright Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day in January. The son of Cloudings had previously landed the honours in the 2015 BetBright Cotswold Chase prior to winning the Grand National later that season. His bittersweet head victory over Thistlecrack in 2017, in which he showed immense courage, subsequently earned the late chaser the accolade of being the best three-mile plus chaser in the Anglo-Irish Jump Classifications.
Horse of the Season
One for Arthur – Betfred Classic Handicap Chase, Warwick 14/01/17 and the Randox Health Grand National, Aintree, 08/04/17
One For Arthur created history in 2017 when becoming only the second Scottish-trained winner of the Randox Health Grand National. Owned by “Two Golf Widows” - Belinda McClung and Deborah Thompson – One For Arthur’s campaign was superbly mapped out by trainer Lucinda Russell. After a win at Kelso in October, he put up an eye-catching first performance at Aintree when a staying-on fifth in the Becher Chase on December 3. A six-length victory in the G3 Betfred Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick on January 14 marked One For Arthur as a serious Grand National contender and crucially raised his rating sufficiently to ensure his participation at Aintree. He was kept fresh for Aintree after winning at Warwick and that strategy paid off as the eight-year-old stayed on strongly to win the world’s greatest chase by four and a half lengths.
Stable Person of the Year
Seanie has worked as travelling head lad for Somerset trainer Philip Hobbs since 1992, and spent five years with Enda Bolger in his native Ireland. He partnered six winners under rules as an amateur in Britain between 1993 and 1997 as well as gaining 20 point-to-point victories, 10 of which were in Ireland.
Outstanding contribution Award
Ollie McPhail was a Jump jockey for 13 seasons, hanging up his boots in 2008 after 129 winners. His second career has been as Lead Education Officer for Racing To School, the charity that uses the UK’s racecourses, trainers’ yards and studs to offer young people a unique learning experience. During his time with Racing To School, Ollie has led over 1,000 events to offer young people a unique learning experience. He has worked with around 40,000 young people, giving the majority their first taste of the sport.
He said “I have been very fortunate to retrain for a second job that I love. The work we do offers real value to young people and promotes so many positive aspects about racing – as a sport and a potential employer. I enjoy challenging the schoolchildren, and their teachers, to tune into everyday racing activities like checking a jockey’s weight or working out race distances as a way of improving their maths skills. Many of them want to learn more and say that they want to come back.”
Racing to School’s Chairman David Adam said: “Ollie has such a natural and easy connection with young people and is highly respected by the many schools and colleges with which we work. As Trustees, we are so grateful to Ollie for adding so much to the charity’s work over the last decade.”
Ollie’s achievements with Racing To School were also recognised in 2013 when he was awarded the Griffins Richard Davis Achievement Award by JETS (the Jockeys Employment and Training Scheme).