HAPPY New Year. Yeeehaaa with bells on!
Usually this is the column I just get straight into the only gongs of 2021 that matter – the annual Yeeehaaa Awards.
But the former Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo runs today at Tramore. That has rather put a spanner in the works.
Quickly, then, have a few quid on right now at about 16-1 for the Gold Cup. Although he’s eleven he’s very lightly raced and over priced. I’ve long said the outcome of the 2021 Gold Cup was questionable and that seems correct judging by recent events.
Right, now to those all important awards that racing folk wait for with bated breath.
Top trainer of 2021
Charlie Appleby is arguably the world’s number one handler and he deserves all the credit going.
Not only a good bloke, Appleby banged out the Derby and Irish Derby winner and big-race successes abroad included three at Del Mar at the Breeders’ Cup. Sheikh Mohammed surely gave him a good Christmas present.
Top jockey of 2021
James McDonald was banned not so long ago Down Under but for me he’s the best rider on the planet.
Recent successes on the Australian stars Nature Strip and Verry Elleegant have shown what he is made of and if he’s on your horse you have a huger advantage. He once rode over here and it would be great if he came back.
Best ride of 2021
I thought Tom O’Brien was brilliant on Thyme Hill at Aintree. He got the mount just after Richard Johnson retired and rode like a man possessed. Indeed he was Johsonesque.
Well speaking of him it was goodbye to Richard Johnson. He was an outstanding champion jockey and still is an outstanding person.
Who had an incredible 2021?
Has to be Rachael Blackmore. Top rider at Cheltenham, Grand National success and then lands every award going. Now she has a Yeeehaaa. Enjoy the ultimare accolade Rachael.
Most underrated Flat horse of 2021
Modern Games was brilliant at Del Mar in the Breeders’ Cup and I don’t think he’s miles behind stable companions Native Trail and Coroebus.
Star Jumps horse
Shishkin. I don’t know why people don’t go crazy for him but they should. The Supreme and Arkle hero is an absolute monster and every time he runs he should be greeted like a champion.
Racing misses a real trick with super stars like this boy. Everyone tries to be too cool. Just go crazy when he’s about.
Troubled champion of 2021
How Oisin Murphy managed to be champion Flat rider while looking demons in the eye is anyone’s guess. But fair play to the lad and I wish him well for 2022. Come back stronger and better than ever lad.
Firsts of 2021 that should be commended
Harry Skelton deserves a mention here as he became champion jumps rider for the first time. He’s super talented.
Emma Banks had her first Group 1 winner as an owner with Lady Bowthorpe. In the words of her star Katy Perry she’s no ‘dark horse’ any more.
Of course rider Kieren Shoemark also grabbed his Group 1 on the mare. Special days. Tom Cannon rode his first Grade 1 over jumps. Deserved.
Chester Williams is trading at massive figures wins to rides and you make a profit if staking £1 on all his mounts.
Not bad apprentice
Marco Ghiani is a very likeable lad and he had a tremendous year with big wins on Real World for the excellent Saeed Bin Suroor.
Clash of the Year
We finally got to see Palace Pier v Baeed at Ascot and the latter came out on top. So often these clashes never happen – thank goodness this one did.
Flat horse of 2021
Has to be Baeed. Trained brilliant by William Haggas and keeping the Hamdan al Maktoum colours in the limelight.
Jumps Trainer who will struggle to ever have a better year
Has to be Henry de Bromhead. Minella Indo, A Plus Tard, Honeysuckle and Minella Times gave him extraordinary wins in the biggest races. Well done.
Engagement of the Year
Well done to the top team of Tom Marquand and Hollie Doyle. At the time of writing they are both skiing. I bet it’s competitive and it’s that edge which makes them special.
Despite Covid frustrations I hope your 2021 was fabulous. And that 2022 is even better. Remember there are always people worse off than you! Enjoy life. Happy New Year!
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