Another flat racing season has come and gone with plenty of excitement and entertainment along the way. The clocks going back and the nights getting darker, coupled with the temperatures dropping mean the National Hunt campaign gets underway — allowing for a period of reflection on the season that has come and gone in a flash.
With coronavirus restrictions easing, we were finally allowed to welcome back spectators to racecourses after a turbulent period which saw stands eerily quiet as races took place behind closed doors. With normality ensuing the stakes appeared to be amped up a notch, with races increasingly harder to call on the horse racing tips and plenty of upsets along the way. With that in mind, here were the big winners from the last year of flat racing.
Despite condemnation for his off the course antics, Oisin Murphy’s talent as a jockey is undeniable. Eventually sealing the flat jockeys’ championship after an arduous battle with William Buick that went right down to the wire, Murphy retained his title for the third successive year — needing some good fortune on Champions Day at Ascot to do so. With victories in so many races and still at a tender age, we can see Murphy continuing to assert his dominance for years to come, and after the Irishman picked up his first victory in the Breeder’s Cup with aboard Marche Lorraine, he looks well on course to pick up where he’s left off come next year.
St Mark’s Basilica
Following a string of successive Group One wins, the Aiden O’Brien trained St Mark’s Basilica swiftly built a reputation as one of the most reliable horses around. Consistently touted as a favourite for his races, the three-year-old picked up a plethora of big wins including the Eclipse at Sandown, where he saw off more experienced runners in Addeybb and Mishriff — to the satisfaction of O’Brien, who heaped on the praise for his horse who has since been retired to stud, saying: “He’s a lovely horse, everything is very relaxed and he’s a good mover.
“He quickens and has a great mind – he does everything. We felt he had stepped up since the last day and Ryan gave him a beautiful ride. I’m delighted for everybody.”
One of the best trainers in the game, Charlie Appleby exemplifies what it means to be at the top of the flat racing. Picking up accolades left, right and centre, the Godolphin man enjoyed another great year personally, working with Buick in his pursuit of theflat jockeys’ championship, and although the rider may have come up short, there is no doubt in our minds that he will be ready to dust himself down and go against when the flat season comes back around — much to Appleby’s delight.
Irish champion jockey Collin Keane set a new record for winners in a season in Ireland as he landed his 127th victory of the campaign, assisted by some powerful running from Power Under Me at the Curragh. It seemed like the record was always going to be broken when he equalled Joseph O’Brien’s record at Dundalk and then pulled ahead to write his name in the history books that same weekend. The Irishman setting the record on home soil makes it all the more poignant.
With a long list of wins to choose from, it is hard to pick a standout performance which really encapsulates his superiority throughout the year. But several noticeable ones include the Tattersalls Gold Cup and the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.