O’Ryan chosen for special recognition awards at Lesters

Tom O'Ryan: chosen by jockeys for their special recognition award

O'Ryan chosen for recognition awards By Bruce Jackson 7:01AM 23 DEC 2016

THERE was a mix of the old, new and a touch of sadness at the 26th Stobart Lesters awards held at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on Thursday evening.

Champion jockeys Jim Crowley and Richard Johnson won the Stobart jockey of the year for the Flat and jumps respectively – taking Johnson onto three Lesters and Crowley two, but all the other winners picked up their first Lester.

Apprentice champion Josephine Gordon got off the mark by winning both the JETS apprentice of the year award as well as the Great British Racing lady jockey of the year.

Craig Nichol, crowned Stobart champion conditional jockey at the season-ending Sandown meeting in April, received his Lester for being the Racing Excellence conditional jockey of the year.

At The Races viewers chose another conditional in Colm McCormack for their jump ride of the year.

McCormack lost both irons when Fiddler's Flight blundered at the last at Sedgefield in February but rallied his mount from three lengths down to win.

Robert Winston, another receiving his first Lester, was voted the Racing Post Flat ride of the year for his performance on Librisa Breeze at Ascot in October.

'Immense contribution'

Tom O'Ryan was the other double recipient with the jockey turned journalist and broadcaster, who died aged 61 this year, chosen by both the Flat and jump jockeys for their special recognition award.

O'Ryan, dubbed the 'voice of the north', had helped generations of young jockeys as a coach to develop their careers.

Paul Struthers, chief executive of the the PJA, said: "Jockeys lost one of their greatest friends and supporters, Tom O'Ryan, this year. His contribution was immense and he is much missed.

"The fact that he was not only nominated by both codes for their special recognition Lester, but won both as well speaks volumes of the esteem in which Tom was held.

"It has been the end of a difficult year, with bad news never far away. The loss of Tom, JT McNamara, Mark Birch and Walter Swinburn has hit the weighing room hard, as did the injuries suffered by Freddy Tylicki who was in everyone's thoughts tonight as he starts his rehabilitation.

"It is even more important at times like these that, on behalf of the PJA's members, we recognise and show our gratitude to Stobart Group, not just for supporting the Lesters but for sponsoring jockeys collectively which helps provide them with career ending insurance and also for sponsoring the championships. It is very much appreciated."

Andrew Tinkler, chief executive of Stobart Group, said: "The Lesters are a superb occasion for the celebration of the great achievements of our jockeys, both on the Flat and over jumps.

"The contribution of jockeys to the sport of horse racing is hugely valued and we at Stobart are delighted to play a part in honouring these fine sporting stars."

>> Winners at the Stobart Lesters 2016

Flat jockey Jim Crowley

Jump jockey Richard Johnson

Lady jockey Josephine Gordon

Apprentice jockey Josephine Gordon

Conditional jockey Craig Nichol

Racing Post Flat ride of the year Robert Winston on Librisa Breeze at Ascot on October 1

Flat jockey special recognition Tom O'Ryan

Jump ride of the year Colm McCormack on Fiddler's Flight at Sedgefield on February 9

Jump jockey special recognition Tom O'Ryan

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