5. Maxine O’Sullivan wins the Foxhunters at Cheltenham


I always get a kick out of seeing friends ride winners, and to see Maxine O’Sullivan win on It Came To Pass for her father, Eugene, was superb.

She’s an out-and-out amateur jockey, and to win the Foxhunters as an amateur rider is pretty much the pinnacle.

Maxine works so hard and she gave him an absolute peach of a ride on the day.

The whole operation is a proper family effort and, for such a small yard, winning on the biggest stage – we all know just how hard that is to do – will be something that they’ll never forget.

4. Envoi Allen’s reputation grows


One of the most exciting things in racing is when a young horse captures the imagination, and none have looked more like a potential superstar in recent years than Envoi Allen.

Unbeaten in eight starts under rules – and successful in his only point-to-point appearance – the Gordon Elliot-trained beast is the kind of horse that you’d think could win at any trip, on any ground, and at the highest level.

He’s already won four Grade 1 races and, despite looking like he could be in trouble as they turned for home at Cheltenham, he found an extra gear and put the race to bed in a matter of strides.

He’ll have his connections dreaming of what could be and, whether they stay over hurdles or decide to go over fences, he’s one horse that I can’t wait to see back in action next season.

3. Rachael Blackmore wins the Irish Champion Hurdle


For those of you that weren’t at the Dublin Racing Festival, the reception that Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle received as they returned to the winners’ enclosure after taking the scalps of the boys in the Irish Champion Hurdle was electric.

Rachael is a friend and a fine rider, and to see her win the Grade 1 at Leopardstown on such a super mare was a great spectacle and a great win for the girls.

She has been riding out of her skin for a few years now. Those big-race successes are a worthy reflection of the talent that she is in the saddle and I’m sure we’ll see plenty more in years to come.

They had to battle to come away from Darver Star that day – who finished third in the Champion Hurdle on his next start, which is no mean feat! – and then extended their unbeaten run to eight straight wins when they teamed up to win the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival in March.

2. Al Boum Photo’s second consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cup


Winning any race at the Cheltenham Festival is hard enough, but the Gold Cup is probably the toughest of them all.

Everyone knew the challenge that Al Boum Photo faced when he lined up in a bid to become the first horse since Best Mate in 2004 to retain the trophy.

For some reason, he didn’t really seem to capture the hearts and imagination of many racing fans. There were plenty who thought that he was up against it this year, so to see him win in the style that he did was thrilling.

I was absolutely delighted for Willie [Mullins] and for Paul [Townend], who gave him a cracking ride. The victory was a huge testament to Willie and all his team, who managed to get him to his big target in the best form of his life after just one run all season.

I don’t think there was an empty glass in the whole of County Carlow on the Friday night when they returned home, and I imagine there were plenty of sore heads for a few mornings after.

1. Faugheen wins the Flogas Chase at Leopardstown


Despite so many great moments this season, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the raw emotion I felt when Faugheen won at the Dublin Racing Festival in February.

The noise that was created when the fan favourite came back into the winners’ enclosure sent shivers down my spine. It still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I think back to it now. It really was something else.

Not many 12-year -olds win Grade 1 races over fences as a novice, and he silenced all his doubters by finding more up the run-in to beat the closing Easy Game.

There wasn’t a dry eye in Dublin that day and it stands out as the moment of the season for me.

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