|INTRO | REVIEW BY SPORT | GALLERY | VOTE | LEGENDS REMEMBERED | 2002 CALENDAR|
By Richard Hughes and Frank Keogh
It was a year of contrasting fortunes for followers of National Hunt and Flat racing.
The jump season was decimated by appalling weather and the foot-and-mouth crisis.
But there was better news on the Flat with Aidan O’Brien, who landed a world record 23 Group One winners, and Godolphin, battling it out for the major prizes.
The biggest blow for National Hunt fans came with the cancellation of the Cheltenham Festival, the sport’s premier meeting.
Punters were denied the chance to see Istabraq going for a fourth Champion Hurdle when the course was ruled to be inside a foot-and-mouth exclusion zone.
That left Aintree to pick up the pieces, but three days of incessant rain left many wondering whether the Grand National should have gone ahead.
However, despite the heavy going and a pile-up at the Canal Turn, few could deny Richard Guest produced a brilliant ride to guide Red Marauder through the mud to victory.
Galileo looked set to dominate the Flat campaign after marking his debut on a British course with a hugely impressive success in the Derby, which was back on BBC TV.
That was followed by the Irish Derby and victory over 2000 Emirates World Series winner Fantastic Light in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes.
Godolphin, hit early in the year by the death of star sire Dubai Millennium, fought back as Fantastic Light beat Gaileo in the Irish Champion Stakes but a much-anticipated third showdown, scheduled for the Breeders' Cup, never took place.
Fantastic Light went for, and won, the Breeders' Cup Turf, while Galileo laboured on the dirt and was retired to stud.
Instead it was Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Sakhee who almost stole the show in the Classic only to be denied in a photo-finish with American horse Tiznow, recording his second consecutive success in the race.
O’Brien and jockey Mick Kinane had warmed up for the Epsom Derby by landing the Oaks with Imagine, and Milan’s St Leger victory at Doncaster made it three British Classics for Ballydoyle.
Brilliant Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Johannesburg heads the Irish team's catalogue of top prospects for next season.
Elsewhere, Golan was an impressive winner of the 2000 Guineas, while Ameerat landed the 1000 Guineas.
When the new National Hunt campaign moved up a gear, Adrian Maguire became only the seventh jump jockey to ride 1,000 winners in the UK.
Champion jockey Tony McCoy has been there, and done that. McCoy sets the standard as he chases a seventh title and a record number of victories in one season.