Cork duo Townend and O'Keeffe are crowned champion jockeys

Cork duo Townend and O'Keeffe are crowned champion jockeys
Shumaker and Darragh O'Keeffe jump the last to win the Fairyhouse Rated Hurdle. Picture: Healy Racing

TWO Cork jockeys have landed prizes after the National Hunt season was cut short.

Lisgoold's Paul Townend and Doneraile's Darragh O'Keeffe were crowned at the conclusion of the truncated campaign.

Townend is champion jockey for the third time. 

He won the title in the 2010/11 season and again last year with a personal best of 109. 

Townend, who excelled at Cheltenham, was well on his way to topping that figure with 104 winners this term, the tally including Grade 1 winners Faugheen and Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival in February and Min in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase before Christmas.

Bachasson and Paul Townend jump the last to win the Boylesports Steeplechase. Picture: Healy Racing
Bachasson and Paul Townend jump the last to win the Boylesports Steeplechase. Picture: Healy Racing

O'Keeffe is the new champion conditional jockey. He wins the title with a record 45 winners, one more than Jack Kennedy’s winning total in the 2015/2016 season. 

The North Cork man O’Keeffe finishes five clear of Kevin Brouder with both riding out their claims during the season, O’Keeffe doing so at his local racecourse on the Michael Hourigan-trained The Gatechecker in the Paddy Power Cork Grand National Handicap Chase last November. 

Darragh O'Keeffe. Picture: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography
Darragh O'Keeffe. Picture: Chris Bellew/Fennell Photography

He also enjoyed notable victories on the Joseph O'Brien-trained All The Answers, one of his three Galway festival winners, and Enda Bolger’s Ballyoisin, all three horses owned by JP McManus.

The six champions for the 2019/2020 National Hunt season are:

Champion Owner: Gigginstown House 

Stud Champion Trainer: Willie Mullins 

Champion Jockey: Paul Townend 

Francin and gold cup winning jockey Paul Townend. Picture: Healy Racing
Francin and gold cup winning jockey Paul Townend. Picture: Healy Racing

Champion Conditional: Darragh O'Keeffe 

Champion Amateur: Patrick Mullins 

Champion Lady Amateur Rider: Lisa O’Neill

Gigginstown House Stud are the leading owners for the sixth successive season and the eighth time in all. The likes of Delta Work, Road To Respect, Notebook and Apple's Jade were among their Grade 1 winners with Roaring Bull, Eclair De Beaufeu and Cap York all achieving notable handicap chase success.

Willie Mullins retains the trainers’ championship with perhaps the dual Grade 1 success of Faugheen at the Limerick Christmas Festival, with son Patrick in the saddle, and the Dublin Racing Festival the highlight. 

Mullins also recorded top-level wins with Saldier, Min, Chacun Pour Soi, Asterion Forlonge and Sharjah with Cabaret Queen, Total Recall and Janidil adding significant handicap chase and hurdle wins.

Patrick Mullins is the champion amateur rider for a record 12th time. His faithful ally Sharjah provided him with further Grade 1 success in the Matheson Hurdle at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, the win coming just three days after he took the Grade 1 Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase on Faugheen at Limerick. 

There were also bumper wins on the likes of Asterion Forlonge, Appreciate It and Ferny Hollow for his father Willie and on the exciting Bob Olinger for Henry De Bromhead for the all-time winning most amateur jockey.

Success in the Grade 2 Coolmore NH Sires Irish EBF Mares INH Flat Race on the Gordon Elliott-trained Darling Daughter at the Dublin Racing Festival was the highlight of the season for Lisa O’Neill. She becomes the Leading Lady Amateur Rider for the third time.

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