Last season produced some epic wins and breakout stars for National Hunt racing. Who can forget Tiger Roll’s emphatic back-to-back win in the Grand National? Or Irish trainer Willie Mullins finally winning his first Cheltenham Gold Cup? Paul Nicholls may have pipped Nicky Henderson to the Jumps Trainer title but Dan Skelton was hot on their heels in third place.
So who were the winners of the 2018/19 national hunt season?
Richard Johnson may still be missing that elusive Grand National win, but he did accumulate total earnings of £2,262,552. That wasn’t actually the most won by a jockey, with Harry Cobden topping out on earnings of £2,306,516.
However, Johnson notched up 200 winners in the season and won the Champion Jockey title. Adding that to his tally, it was his fourth consecutive win.
Special mention must go to the wonderful Bryony Frost. Her history-making win in the Ryanair Chase on Frodon was a highlight of the whole season. Despite a subsequent injury that ruled her out of the Grand National, she confidently stepped into the role of presenter much to the delight of her fans. She then capped off a great season by winning the Conditional Jockeys Championship.
There can only be one true hero of last season. And that is Tiger Roll. Doing what no other horse has achieved since Red Rum in the 70s, he bagged back-to-back National wins. He also earned more than any other runner last season, taking home £541,380 in prize money.
Will the Gordon Elliott trained superstar be back for his third Grand National in 2020? That’s debatable. Connections will wait until the weights are revealed before making any decisions.
And while Tiger Roll stole the Grand National headlines, Altior was the hero of Cheltenham. Winning an incredible 19 races on the bounce, the nine-year-old has amassed winnings of £1,234,751. Will we see him in the King George later this year??
So many great trainers had milestones last season. Gordon Elliott for training Tiger Roll. Or Willie Mullins for this Irish Grand National and Cheltenham win. But it’s Dan Skelton that has been steadily plugging away at the Trainer’s Championship. Since 2013, when he first took out his trainers license, he has gone from strength to strength.
He trained 27 winners in his first season earning £327,272. Fast forward to the 2018/19 season and he sent out 205 winners, crossing the £2m earnings barrier. He was surpassed only by Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls. He also saddled more runners and brought home more winners than either of them. Watch this space, Dan Skelton will be Champion trainer in the very near future!
Who will make history in the coming season? Though we are barely into the jumps season, Dan Skelton has already been making good progress. As of June 24th he has sent out 26 winners but he can he keep that up as we properly get underway in Autumn?
Richard Johnson is leading the field in the Jockeys Championship but there is a very long way to go. Could we see Bryan Hughes, Harry Skelton or Bryony Frost take the mantle?
There is so much exciting racing ahead of us in the 2019/20 season. And like all racing fans, I will be watching with bated breath as the action unfolds.