By Pat Costello
THE prestigious Annual Curragh Awards were forced on line this year because of Covid-19 restrictions so a virtual Awards Ceremony took place on Thursday last, 26 November.
A total of five major awards, in categories which were open to public vote, were announced on the night including a Special Merit Award, for his contribution to Irish Racing, to recently retired Currabeg trainer, John Oxx, trainer of many equine greats like the brilliant Sea the Stars, Sinndar and Alamshar. “The Curragh is close to my heart. No place is dearer to my heart than The Curragh is,” a delighted Oxx said after his award was announced.
The Curragh Training Performance Award went to Kieran Cotter for A Step Too Far. Cotter’s handling of A Step Too Far was one of the stories of the season. Joining the awards ceremony via video link, an overwhelmed Cotter thanked everyone who was part of the four-year-old’s remarkable journey this season with six handicap race wins in a row.
“I’m hugely honoured and flattered,” he said, “but this award is not for me – it is for everyone here in Clonanny. “A Step Too Far has been a shining light on what has been a bleak year with Covid and for us it has been nothing but one long happy journey.”
Siskin’s win in the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas brought the Curragh Riding Performance Award to Colin Keane. “Siskin is a horse that I’ll remember for a long time, giving me my first domestic Group 1 winner as a 2-year-old and then to go on and give myself and my boss our first classic winner,” was how the Meath jockey reflected on his Award.
The Aidan O’Brien trained Magical was selected as The Curragh Horse of the Season. Magical won two Group 1’s at The Curragh this season including the Tattersalls Gold Cup and Alwasmiyah Pretty Polly Stakes. Speaking on behalf of the owners, Paul Smith said, ‘She has always shown to be tough, genuine, beautiful action and a great mind. The plan is to race her next month in Hong Kong.”
The winner of the Best Turned Out Prize of €1000 went to Jaci Paz De Oliveira and Ciel D’Afrique from the Dermot Weld Stable. The winners Draw is an initiative from TRM and The Curragh which commenced in 2019 for Champion stable staff.
The 2021 season at The Curragh will run from March to October and includes 11 Group 1 races, 14 Group 2, 15 Group 3 and seven Listed Races including the Tattersalls Irish 1000 and 2000 Guineas, Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival, Juddmonte Irish Oaks and Longines Irish Champions Weekend