CARLOW TRAINER Willie Mullins was honoured last Monday at the 2011 Horse Racing Ireland Awards, where he took home the prestigious National Hunt award for the third year running.
His handling of Hurricane Fly in particular was one of many highlights for the Closutton based trainer as this high class performer was one of four winners for the stable at Cheltenham, where Quevega won the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle for the third consecutive year before she went on to win the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.
The prestigious Horse of the Year award went to Hurricane Fly, trained by Mullins, who landed a trio of Champion Hurdles at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown. Having missed the previous two Cheltenham Festivals due to injury, he finally got his chance to shine on National Hunt Racing's biggest stage when he gained victory in the hotly contested Champion Hurdle, giving Willie and jockey Ruby Walsh their first success in this famous event. Owners Frank & Rose Boyd and Andrew, Lewis & George Creighton were there to accept the award with Willie Mullins. The annual Irish Horse Racing Awards were hosted by Horse Racing Ireland last week in the Leopardstown Pavilion, Dublin. The awards which are in their ninth year are voted on by the Irish Racing Media to recognise excellence in the sport of horse racing. Among the 180 guests were Simon Coveney, T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, who presented the six awards.
Simon Coveney, T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine said 'at a time of economic adversity, the success of Irish Breeders, Trainers and Jockeys shows what we are capable of in this country, which has such a rich equine history and heritage.
'The Irish bloodstock industry is of enormous economic benefit to this country, providing 16,000 jobs, almost €1bn in economic output with exports worth some €147m to 36 countries in 2010. The great success enjoyed in 2011 created a ripple effect, enhancing the reputation of the industry and benefitting owners, breeders, jockeys and indeed all those involved in the industry either directly or indirectly. I congratulate all our award winners today who have represented horse racing and Ireland so well.'