Evan Williams and Adam Wedge were among the winners at the third annual ROA-sponsored Welsh Horse Racing Awards.
Arranged by Chepstow, Ffos Las and Bangor Racecourses, the awards recognise the success of Welsh-based trainers, jockeys and owners over what has been a challenging 12 months for all due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Wedge was the winning-most jump jockey in the last year and claimed his first two Grade One victories – most notably steering the Rebecca Curtis-trained Lisnagar Oscar to success in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
He was the undisputed winner of the National Hunt jockeys’ award, sponsored by Cotts Equine, with David Probert named Flat Jockey of the Year, having ridden 81 winners during a truncated season, including his 1,000th British winner in June.
Four Welsh jockeys received special recognition awards – Jones, for last November’s Ladbroke Trophy victory aboard De Rasher Counter; Richard Patrick for his winning ride on Happy Diva in last season’s BetVictor Gold Cup; Jack Tudor, for Potters Corner’s epic win in the Coral Welsh Grand National; and Lorcan Williams for his success in the Midlands Grand National on Truckers Lodge.
Evan Williams and David Evans were the clear winners of the National Hunt and Flat Trainer of the Year awards sponsored by Gain Equine Nutrition, both in terms of wins on the track and prize-money.
Special recognition awards in the trainers’ category were made to Christian Williams for Potters Corner’s Coral Welsh National victory, Rebecca Curtis for Lisnagar Oscar’s aforementioned Festival triumph and Sheila Lewis for her five consecutive winners this autumn, including a treble at Hereford, from a yard with just six horses currently in training.
The exploits of William Muir’s Pyledriver have been highlights of the 2020 Flat season – winning the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Great Voltigeur at York before finishing a close third in the St Leger. Two of his three owners (La Pyle Partnership), Guy and Huw Leach, hail from Cardiff and they are deserving winners of the Flat Owner of the Year award sponsored by the ROA.
Equally outstanding for the National Hunt Owners’ award are All Stars Sports Racing and Jonathan Davies, the group of Welshmen who own Potters Corner – the first winner of the Welsh Grand National owned and trained in Wales since 1965 – and Limited Reserve, who took a valuable Grade Three handicap at Sandown.
The Horse of the Year awards go to Pyledriver as the leading Flat horse; Lisnagar Oscar as the top hurdler; and Potters Corner as the champion steeplechaser. The Flat and hurdler awards are sponsored by Peter Villars Sports Ground Maintenance, ICL and Floyds Turfcare – with the chaser award sponsored by NAF.
The Lifetime Achievement award, sponsored by Dragon Studios, was unanimously given to Brian Lee, the popular journalist and author who has written passionately about Welsh racing for over 50 years and is still writing for the local newspapers at the age of 84.
The Breeder of the Year award went to Usk Valley Stud, conditional jockey Charlie Price is the winner of the Rising Star award and the Stable Staff Recognition Award went to 18-year-old Katie Powell, who works for trainer Sheila Lewis.
Charlie Liverton, CEO of the sponsors the ROA, said: “Never has there been a better year to highlight the talent, success and contribution of those that bring horseracing in Wales to life. Throughout 2020 it has been the sheer determination of the sport’s participants and their pure love of racing that has kept our sport going.
“The ROA are honoured to be sponsoring the awards again this year and look forward to seeing the many brilliant achievements and professionals being recognised for their contribution to Welsh Horse Racing. Good luck to everyone nominated and we will be raising a virtual glass to everyone who has worked so hard this year to drive Welsh horse racing forward.”
The awards are being posted to the winners because this year’s presentation evening could not take place due to the current situation.