Top award for Katie

Niall Cronin

Irish point-to-points have been the nursery for so many great names over the years, including Denman who really advertised the quality of horses that begin in that code.

Despite that, point-to-pointing doesn't usually get the recognition it deserves. However, tonight in the Silver Springs Hotel in Cork, the very best from this season 'between the flags' will be honoured at the 33rd Irish Point-To-Point Awards.

The Evening Herald's Katie Walsh will be claiming her first title from the point-to-point world as she will be crowned Champion Lady Rider as she had a six-winner lead over Liz Lalor back in second place.

Speaking to the Herald this morning, Richard Pugh of explained how big Irish point-to-pointing has got.

"Just taking the period between last October to May, 810 winners on the track were former point-to-pointers.

"Of that 810, 18 were Grade One winners and four of the Cheltenham Grade Ones were won by pointers, while one in five Cheltenham runners began in a point-to-point.

"That has created a demand for these horses. But it is not all about the selling as it is such a good education for young horses."

The season was due to end last Monday at Ballingarry, but it had to be postponed on Sunday with the fixture put back until today.

A winner at Ballingarry was the Ted Walsh-trained and Katie Walsh-ridden Battlefront, who secured a record eighth success of the season and will be crowned Horse Of The Year.

As well as nurturing future equine stars, the Irish point-to-point fields also work as a schooling ground for some of our best jockeys before they turn professional. Last season's Champion Jockey in Ireland, Davy Russell, was previously a big point-to-point man.

Two forces of the amateur ranks now dominate though, and after breaking numerous records last season by overtaking 100 winners, Derek O'Connor and Jamie Codd led the way again this season.

O'Connor again came out on top with 69 winners to his credit before racing today and Codd with 47.

It was still a memorable season for Codd. Just a couple of weeks ago the Wexford native rode his 500th winner to join just O'Connor and John Thomas McNamara in an elite group.

O'Connor himself enjoyed a landmark last week when at Kinsale he topped off another great season by securing his 800th winner, which is just an incredible feat and leaves him in pursuit of the magic 1,000 winner mark.

Cheltenham Festival winner Salsify will be crowned the Champion Hunters Chaser for his exploits in winning the Foxhunters' Champion Hunters Chase and also adding wins at Leopardstown and just last week at Stratford.

The name of the future is Larry Murphy, who was Champion Novice, although his closest rival Graham Watters is another name to look out for, while John Thomas McNamara was the Senior Champion. Trainer of the Year went down to the wire but has now been won by Robert Tyner.

Irish Point-To-Point Awards 2011/2012

•Irish Field Riders' Champion: Derek O'Connor

•Easyfix Champion Handler: Robert Tyner

•Horseware Senior Point-To-Point Champion: John Thomas McNamara

•Horseware Point-To-Point Lady Champion: Katie Walsh

•Horseware Point-To-Point Novice Champion: Larry Murphy

•Weatherbys Breeders' Award: Dick Lalor

•Goffs Leading Sire Award: Oscar

•Tattersalls Champion Hunter Chaser: Salsify

•Red Mills Champion Point-To-Point Horse: Battlefront

• Champion Point-To-Point Mare: The Blarney Rose

•Racing Post Southern Champion: Derek O'Connor

•Racing Post Western Champion: Derek O'Connor

•Racing Post Northern Champion: Derek O'Connor and Ben Crawford

•Racing Post Eastern Champion: Jamie Codd