Best Mate has been crowned the British Horse Racing Board’s Jump Horse of the Year at the board’s inaugural Jump Racing Awards.
The nations darling, who achieved a historic third successive victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, to match the record of the great Arkle in the 1960s, was a fitting winner of the title.
As the star of Henrietta Knights stable, Best Mate raced himself into the publics heart upon his first Cheltenham victory three years ago, and has been a hotly backed favourite in the race ever since, battling home to victory this year after an anxious moment when he was boxed in by eventual runner-up Sir Rembrandt.
The twelve awards to mark equine and human achievement in the 2003-2004 Jump Racing season were based on, and coincided with, the publication of the Anglo-Irish Classifications.
Each award was won by the highest-rated horse (or human) in the respective classification, providing the horse was trained in Britain or if not, achieved the category-topping rating on British racecourse.
Best Mate also took the title of Champion Three-Mile Chaser, dominating this category for the second year in a row.
Trainer Henrietta Knight said that they were very proud and delighted that he has won the accolade.
Matey is having a summer holiday in the field at the moment, and he wont start being ridden again until the end of July. After that well start thinking about his winter programme, and if the weather and ground is right, then his first outing is likely to be at Exeter in late November, she added.
It was a clean sweep for Martin Pipes stable clan as far as the non-equine awards were concerned. Winning duo Martin Pipe and Tony McCoy took the champion trainer and jockey awards. This partnership came to an end with the end of the season as McCoy moves on to pastures new, but both will be keen to continue independently their long-standing positions at the head of the tables.
David Johnsons fourth win as Champion Owner was testament to Martin Pipes unrivalled skills, as well as the businessmans successful buying policy. Meanwhile, conditional jockey Jamie Moore took the conditional title, which is at least in part down to Martin Pipes firepower.
BHB Chairman Peter Savill said: The launch of BHBs Flat Awards earlier this year was universally welcomed, and provided much deserved official recognition of British Racings champions in 2003. I am in no doubt that the Jump Awards will have exactly the same impact.
There could not be a more fitting Horse of the Year than Best Mate, whose achievement of winning three Cheltenham Gold Cups in a row has for so long seemed out of reach of any horse in modern times.
He has shown everything that makes the sport great fast and fluent jumping, talent and courage, as demonstrated at Cheltenham in March, when he really had to fight to win.
BHB 2004 Jump Racing Awards
Champion Novice Hurdler Fundamentalist
Champion Novice Chaser Strong Flow
Champion Two-mile Hurdler Hardy Eustace
Champion Two-mile Chaser Azertyuiop/Moscow Flyer
Champion Two-and-a-half-mile Chaser Moscow Flyer
Champion Three-mile Chaser Best Mate
Champion Conditional Jamie Moore
Champion Jockey A P McCoy
Champion Trainer Martin Pipe
Champion Owner David Johnson
Horse of the Year Best Mate