Sean Bowen retained his title of National Hunt Jockey of the Year prize at the annual Welsh Horse Racing Awards, held at the Vale Resort, near Cardiff. The highlight of the year in question was victory on the 2022 Grand National winner Noble Yeats in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree. Bowen has been leading the way in this season’s race for the jockeys’ championship and is fast approaching a century of winners. He is currently 37 ahead of his rivals.
The Flat Racing Jockey of the Year was won by Daniel Muscutt for the first time. Muscutt was brought up in West Wales and taking the jockeys’ all-weather championship last winter helped him to exceed David Probert’s total of winners in the twelve-month period the awards cover.
David Evans was Flat Race Trainer of the Year, whose string amassed 53 winners. His stable star Rohaan came back to form in the autumn with a success at his beloved Ascot carrying top weight in a 0-105 handicap.
Pyledriver won the Leading Flat Horse of the Year by winning the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot. He has since been retired to stud.
Evan Williams was the National Hunt Trainer of the year, earning over £500,000 in prize money, although he had strong competition from Sam Thomas and Christian Williams, whose horses won several big races between them. Foremost among the latter’s was Kitty’s Light, who won the National Hunt Horse of the Year for a remarkable treble of long-distance handicaps – the Eider Chase, the Scottish Grand National, and one week later the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.
Christian Williams received a Special Recognition Award in view of his exploits with Kitty’s Light while coping with his daughter Betsy’s recent diagnosis of leukaemia.
The Outstanding Contribution to Welsh Racing Award was presented to owner-breeder John Deer (photographed). His Oakgrove Stud, close to Chepstow, has produced a series of top stallions over the years, most recently Al Kazeem. One of his progeny, Saint Lawrence, won this year’s Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot.
The Flat and National Hunt Leading Owner awards went to La Pyle Partnership, who had Pyledriver, and Dai Walters, who had more than a dozen individual winners.
The Flat Breeder of the Year award was made to Kelly Thomas of Maywood Stud for their unbeaten two-year-old Vandeek, a dual Group 1 winner. Dave Futter and Tessa Greatrex took the National Hunt award for Yorton Stud’s breeding of the Grade 1 winning novice hurdler Inthepocket.
David Prichard collected a Special Recognition Award for his achievement winning the Welsh Grand National on The Two Amigos last year. He took the opportunity to announce his retirement at the awards ceremony. He had returned to the saddle after breaking his back in the summer of 2022 and went on to enjoy his best ever domestic season with ten winners, though he rode many more abroad as an amateur.
Other Special Recognition Awards were made to owners Jayne and Gwyn Brace, trainer Grace Harris and trainer-jockey Bradley Gibbs.