Last season produced some epic wins and breakout stars for National Hunt racing. Who can forget Rachael Blackmore and Minella Times’ historic win in the Grand National? Or Irish trainer Henry De Bromhead finally winning his first Cheltenham Gold Cup?
Paul Nicholls may have pipped Dan Skelton to the Jumps Trainer title but De Bromhead was hot on their heels in third place.
So who were the winners of the 2020/21 national hunt season?
Richard Johnson surprised everybody by retiring in April 2021 but that didn’t stop him from finishing in 7th place in the Jockeys Championship.
However, it was Harry Skelton who topped the leaderboard at the end of the season. With 152 wins and the highest win rate at 22%, Skelton notched up total earnings of £1.895m over the course of the season.
Special mention must go to the wonderful Rachael Blackmore. Her history-making win of the Leading Jockey’s title at the Cheltenham Festival was a highlight of the whole season.
The Irish rider had six wins, more than the entire British training contingent combined. She was also the first female jockey to win the Champion Hurdle on Honeysuckle. And of course, she rounded it all off with the Grand National win.
There were so many epic performances over the course of the season that it’s very difficult to pick just one.
Freewheelin’ Dylan romped home in the Irish Grand National at staggering odds of 150/1. Minella Indo put in a sterling performance to win the Gold Cup. And Put The Kettle On won the Champion Chase having won the Arkle Chase the previous year at Cheltenham.
But in terms of earnings, the number one horse for the 2020/21 season was Minella Times. Taking home winnings of £375K for connections, the prize money may have been down but the achievement was nothing short of inspirational.
So many great trainers had milestones last season. Willie Mullins took the Leading Trainer title at Cheltenham. Henry De Bromhead won both the Gold Cup and the Grand National. Dan Skelton has continued to go from strength to strength in the Trainers Championship and moved up from third place to second this season.
But in the UK the man of the season was once again Paul Nicholls. With a staggering win rate of 25%, he sent out 176 winners from the 706 horses that he saddled.
His horses took home £1.66m in winnings and £2.47m in total earnings. With another Trainer Championship in the bag, it’s all to race for again in the 2021/22 season.
Who will make history in the coming season? Though we are barely into the jumps season, Fergal O’Brien has already been making good progress. As of August 19th 2021 he has sent out 43 winners but he can he keep that up as we properly get underway in Autumn?
Brian Hughes is leading the field in the Jockeys Championship but there is a very long way to go. Could we see Harry Skelton or Sam Twiston-Davies take the mantle?
There is so much exciting racing ahead of us in the 2021/22 season. And like all racing fans, I will be watching with bated breath as the action unfolds.