Gold Cup-winning trainer Paul Nicholls was named Jump Trainer of the Year yesterday (Monday, 1 December) for the fourth consecutive year at the Horserace Writers and Photographers Association (HWPA) 42nd Annual Blue Square Derby Awards lunch.
The Somerset-based trainer sent out the first three home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (Denman, Kauto Star and Neptune Collonges respectively) and has trained the last three winners of the Tingle Creek (Kauto Star in 2005/06 and Twist Magic in 2007). His horse Master Minded is current favourite for the Tingle Creek at Sandown on Saturday (6 December).
Paul’s stable jockey Ruby Walsh — who is currently sidelined after having his spleen removed last month — was named Jump Jockey of the Year.
Flat Jockey of the Year went to Johnny Murtagh – whose successes in 2008 include the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot (Duke of Marmalade), the Prix Morny (Bushranger) The 2000 Guineas and Irish 2000 Guineas (Henrythenavigator) and the Ascot Gold Cup (Yeats).
Aidan O’Brien received the Flat Trainer of the Year award for his 23 Group 1 winners in the 2007/08 season. The Co-Wexford-based trainer was unable to attend though as his father died on Sunday (30 November).
Breeders’ Cup winning trainer John Gosden was named International Trainer of the Year after his wins with Raven’s Pass and Donativum at Santa Anita in October while Denman’s owners Paul Barber and Margaret Findlay received the Owner of the Year accolade.