Review of the 2014/15 season
It was perhaps fitting that the big race on his final day was won by 17 year old champion conditional jockey Sean Bowen. Sean has impressed all with his ability and coolness against his seniors. He could achieve a lot and still not come close to APs achievements and it would be foolish to burden him with the tag of the new McCoy but all the signs are that he will have a highly successful career.
Nico De Boinville has also shown signs of a bright future ahead not least with his bold front running ride on Coneygree in the Gold Cup.
Over in Ireland Jonny Burke showed he could mnix it with the big boys at Cheltenham and won the Midland Grand National on Goonyella before coming late to finish second in the Scottish National.
Elsewhere there will be several jockeys looking to fill the gap left at the top of the pile. Sam Twiston Davies quickened his critics with a series of big Saturday winners.
Richard Johnson was as reliable as ever but Tom Scudamore stepped up a mark or two and could be worth a punt for the Championship next year.
Aidan Coleman continues to impress and was the star of one of the highlights of this season with the helmet cam footage at the Aintree meeting.
Noel Fehily had another fine season with big wins of Silviniaco Conti and his amicable split with Charlie Longsdon will see many trainers clambering for his services.It was unfortunate that Barry Geraghty got injured just after Cheltenham. He was riding better than ever and for me is as good a jockey as there is around at the moment.
Brian Hughes quietly notched up his first century of winners, a worthy milestone for a hard working northern based jockey.
It is easy to say that riding for Willie Mullins that Ruby Walsh is bound to be a prolific winner but his style of riding particularly when dictating the pace is a joy to watch. His joy at winning the first 3 races at the Cheltenham Festival was infectious and he took the disappointment of the last flight fall on Annies Power with the philospohical approach you would expect of a jump jockey and his first concern was for the horse.Trainers
By his own admission Paul Nicholls season far exceeded expectations in what was supposed to be a transitional season. He won a succession of big prizes on Saturdays and had major wins in the King George and Champion Chase. He ended up winning the trainers championship by the length of the Newbury straight.
Such a margin of victory in winning prize money was in part due to the disappointing seasons for Nicky Henderson and Jonjo O’Neill. Hendersons stable never got their usual purple patch or two and there were some noticeable absentees and let downs with Sprinter Sacre and Bobs Worth being shadows of their former selves. In short the stable lacked the plentiful big race winners of old.
After an encouraging start Jonjo suffered a largely miserable season with the yard never showing any sustained patches of good form.
David Pipe notched up over a century of winners and once again proved a master at bringing horses back from a long absence to win.
Warren Greatrex however continued to build on previous seasons and achieved the breakthrough of a first Grade 1 with Cole Hardens tenacious front running victory in the World Hurdle able assisted by Gavin Sheehan.
Neil Mulholland was another trainer to make significant progress with The Young Master and The Druids Nephew spearheading his success. If Druids hadnt have buckled 5 out in the National it could have been an even more impressive season.
Dan Skelton had over 70 winners on his first full season training on his own and his partnership with brother rider Harry looks set to blossom further.
Donald McCain remains an enigma. Plenty of winners in the North but little impression when sending raiders south.
Nick Richards had a decent season and has a good strike rate.
Vautour for me gave the performance of the season with his bold jumping display to win the JLT at Cheltenham. It was quite simply an outstanding victory.
Don Poli was not much less impressive winning the RSA and looks destined for a bold bid for the Gold Cup as does Djarkadam.
Faugheen was indeed machine like winning the Champion Hurdle and looks set to be hard to wrestle his crown from.Un De Sceaux won the Arkle well enough to have gone close in the Champion Chase and will be fancied to beat his seniors next year.
Coneygree couldnt have been more impressive in winning the Gold Cup as a novice taking the race by the scruff of the neck and one by one finding chinks in the armour of more experienced contenders.
Many Clouds won both the Hennessey and the National and is young enough and good enough to become a legend in the years to come.
In terms of horses, jockeys and trainers the immediate future of jump racing is bright as outlined above.
However there are worrying signs in terms of the number of horses in training, field sizes and a paucity of quality in the North.
The Cheltenham festival goes from strength to strength but with the exception of the Grand National meeting there is too much emphasis on the Festival leading to horses being wrapped in cotton wool for much of the season.