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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Harrington becomes first female winner of National Hunt HRI award

Jessica Harrington: the in-form handler runs Whirling Dervish at Cork on Saturday
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Jessica Harrington became the first female trainer to win the National Hunt Award at the 15th Horse Racing Ireland Awards on Tuesday.

Harrington enjoyed a magnificent season, which was capped by Sizing John's victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the festival in March, her first runner in the race.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup was one of three Grade 1 successes for Sizing John last season, and the seven-year-old was crowned Horse of the Year.

A delighted Harrington said: "If you told me this time last year I would have the spring I had, I would have sent you to the funny farm."

Aidan O'Brien's record-breaking year was recognised again when he was given the Contribution to the Industry Award.

O'Brien eclipsed Bobby Frankel's record for 25 Group/Grade 1 winners in a season when reaching 26 with Saxon Warrior in the Racing Post Trophy, and moved to 27 when Mendelssohn scored at the Breeders' Cup.

Not to be outdone, O'Brien's son Joseph also picked up an award, with Rekindling's Melbourne Cup success helping him claim the Outstanding Achievement Award. He said: "This was an unbelievably strong category so I am very humbled to have won it."

Colin Keane landed a first Irish Flat jockeys' championship after defeating Pat Smullen, and his efforts were recognised with the Flat Award. He said: "It was cat and mouse the whole way with Pat. It felt good when it was mathematically impossible for him to catch me."

Barry O'Neill was another jockey winning a title for the first time as he broke Derek O'Connor and Jamie Codd's stranglehold on the amateur jockeys' championship. He received the Point-To-Point Award. Down Royal was the other winner at the ceremony, claiming the Racecourse of the Year Award.

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A magnificent season was capped by Sizing John's victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the festival in March, her first runner in the race
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