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Hollie Doyle stars at the Lesters with three awards

Hollie Doyle’s week to remember continued as she took top honours at the 2020 Lesters Awards on Tuesday, including the Flat Jockey of the Year title.

A ground-breaking third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday, Doyle – who reached 150 winners for the year earlier in the day at Lingfield – was nominated for four Lesters, as the Professional Jockeys Association joined forces with Sky Sports Racing to host a live broadcast of the awards, which celebrate the achievements of jockeys over the previous 12 months.

Doyle also claimed the Female Jockey of the Year prize and the Flat Jockey Special Recognition award – becoming the first female jockey to win Flat Jockey of the Year and only the second jockey ever to win three Lesters in a single year, after Paul Hanagan achieved the same feat in 2010.

Hollie Doyle at the BBBC Sports Personality of the Year awards
Hollie Doyle at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards (Peter Byrne/PA)

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Brian Hughes, who won his first jump jockeys’ championship in 2020, was chosen as the Jump Jockey of the Year award recipient – 12 years on from receiving his first Lester for conditional jockey of the year in 2008.

Cieren Fallon and Jonjo O’Neill Jnr received their second career Lesters for Apprentice Jockey of the Year and Conditional Jockey of the Year respectively, each for the second year in a row, following on from becoming champion apprentice and champion conditional.

Sky Sports Racing viewers chose Jack Tudor’s determined ride on Potters Corner in the Welsh National at Chepstow as their Jump Ride of the Year, while Racing TV viewers voted for Dylan Hogan’s audacious front-running ride on Wanaasah at Wolverhampton back in January for the Flat Ride of the Year.

The Jump Jockey Special Recognition award was presented to stalwart of the weighing room and dual Grand National winner Leighton Aspell, who announced his retirement earlier this year. Covid restrictions meant the awards were a virtual affair, with the winners unable to receive their coveted trophies in the studio.

Leighton Aspell celebrates Grand National glory aboard Many Clouds
Leighton Aspell celebrates Grand National glory aboard Many Clouds (Mike Egerton/PA)

The final award of the year saw a rare honorary Lester presented to Dr Jerry Hill, the BHA chief medical adviser.

The Presidents’ Special Award was a thank you to Dr Hill from PJA presidents Richard Johnson and PJ McDonald, on behalf of all PJA members, in recognition and appreciation of his tireless efforts this year helping racing to overcome the incredible challenges brought on from the Covid-19 pandemic.

He becomes just the second person to be given an honorary Lester who was not themselves a jockey or worked for the PJA, the only other being Sir Peter O’Sullevan.

Paul Struthers, chief executive of the PJA, said: “The Lesters are always a special occasion and in the absence of being able to hold an actual ceremony we can’t thank Sky Sports Racing enough for agreeing to host this live special as well as Racing TV for assisting us with the rides of the year footage.

“We’re delighted for all the winners and hope it clearly demonstrates to them the regard and esteem in which they are held by their peers. Hollie’s achievement in becoming only the second jockey in Lesters history to win three awards in a year, and becoming the first female jockey to be crowned Flat Jockey of the Year, should not be downplayed.

“We were also delighted to be able to recognise Jerry’s work through the Special Presidents Award. As well as overseeing improvements in the medical care of jockeys, including the expansion of on-course physiotherapy and offering one-to-one advice and support to jockeys who are hospitalised, his tireless and ongoing efforts to get us back racing whilst ensuring the health and safety of the sports participants, hasn’t gone unnoticed by our members and this was their way of saying thank you.”

Hollie Doyle nominated for four Lesters

Hollie Doyle leads the way in the nominations for this year’s Lesters Awards.

Voting for seven of the Lesters is by ballot among members of the Professional Jockeys Association, with the Flat Ride of the Year chosen by Racing TV viewers and the Jump Ride of the Year selected by Sky Sports Racing viewers.

Both polls are now closed and all winners will be announced during a live show at 6pm on Sky Sports Racing on December 22.

Fresh from being named Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year and making the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Doyle has four nominations, including Flat Jockey of the Year together with her partner Tom Marquand, champion jockey Oisin Murphy and William Buick.

Doyle is also nominated for Flat Ride of the Year aboard Glen Shiel in the British Champions Sprint, Female Jockey of the Year alongside Nicola Currie, Bridget Andrews and Megan Nicholls, and the Flat Jockey Special Recognition Award, with the other nominees in that category being Joe Fanning, Robert Havlin and Paul Hanagan.

Reigning champion Brian Hughes, Richard Johnson, Aidan Coleman and Harry Cobden are vying for Jump Jockey of the Year honours, with the Jump Jockey Special Recognition Award being between Leighton Aspell, Adam Nicol, Wayne Hutchinson and Andrew Tinkler.

Dale Gibson, PJA executive director (Racing), said: “Like other awards ceremonies, we were unable to host a Lesters Awards ceremony due to the pandemic so we were delighted when Sky Sports Racing agreed to produce another Lesters special, as they did in 2019.

“Having been lucky enough to win two Lesters myself I know how much it means so on behalf of the PJA and our members, I would like to congratulate all of the nominees and wish them the very best of luck.”