As 2012 draws to a close, jumpsracing.co.uk will be looking back at some of the highlights from the past 12 months in National Hunt racing, seeking to identify some of the names in the sport that deserve recognition for their achievements.
Between now and the end of December, we'll be taking a look at contenders for the National Hunt horse of the year, together with the jockeys and trainers that have also made an impact on Jumps Racing this year and we'll also be inviting readers on the site, fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter, to submit who you think deserve recognition in each of the categories we have chosen to consider.
The obvious starting point for any review would be to recognise the great performers of the game. However, we all know that Big Buck's and Quevega are seemingly unbeatable, that Sprinter Sacre was arguably the best novice of the past 12 months and that Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson continue to monopolise winner's enclosures of racecourses around the country.
Equally, everyone is aware that 'messrs' McCoy, Walsh, Geraghty, Johnson and Maguire are the top horsemen around right now. However, we've chosen to start our reviews by looking at some of Jump Racing's future stars of the saddle, names that may not be overly familiar to everyone right now but have shown enough in 2012 to suggest they have bright futures ahead of them. Here are five up and coming jockeys that have impressed over the past year.
Henry is the conditional jockey at Donald McCain's Bankhouse Stables and the youngster won the 2011/2012 season Conditional Jockeys Championship with 42 winners, 22 of which came for his boss.
He has already ridden six winners for McCain in the 2012/2013 season and is increasingly picking up rides for other yards and his tally of wins heading in to December stands at 11.
Whilst Brooke may still be some way off riding the pick of his Cheshire yard's top inmates, his career is certainly in the ascendency. His biggest win in 2012 came back in February when he steered the Donald McCain trained, Bourne, to victory in a Grade Two handicap hurdle at Ascot whilst this season, he rode the promising Across The Bay to an easy seven length victory at Kelso on its reappearance and now is a leading contender for the Welsh Grand National.
No introduction is required to the Twiston-Davies family but 17 year old Willy is certainly making strides in becoming another familiar name in this famous equine clan.
The youngster spent the Summer riding on the flat, where he picked up a total of 13 winners, five of which came for Champion Trainer, Richard Hannon, and now back over Jumps, he has already notched up two wins, one of which was the exciting Novice Chaser, Tour Des Champs, from his father's stable.
Willy's still only young but in his father and older brother and fellow jockey, Sam, he has two mentors that can help advise and guide him all the way to the top and it would be more of a surprise if he wasn't a household name amongst racing fans in years come to come.
Female jockeys are not a commonplace in the National Hunt code and as such, every credit must be handed to 22 year old, Lucy Alexander, for making her presence felt against her male counterparts.
The Scottish jockey narrowly missed out on the Conditional Jockeys Title last season but the way she has started this seasons suggests she's determined to make amends for that and leads the way with 22 wins already in 2012/2013.
The majority of her rides come on the northern circuit and her most eye catching win came earlier this month when she showed why she's such an exciting talent when riding the George Charlton trained, Knockara Beau, to an eight length victory at Kelso.
She rode in a handful of races at the Cheltenham Festival earlier this year and whilst unable to find a winner, there's no doubt that she'll once again be heading to Prestbury Park in March as she bids to become the first female rider to win at the meeting since 1987 when Gee Armstrong rode two winners at the Festival.
It may be a male dominated arena but Alexander has all the attributes to go far and she is certainly one for the future!
It is no surprise that riding for Nicky Henderson, Jeremiah McGrath has caught the eye of many racing fans over the past couple of seasons, none more so than when guiding Fred Winter winner and one of the leading fancies to end Quevega's domination of the David Nicholson Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, Une Artiste, to victory on her seasonal debut at Wetherby in early November.
His record so far this season is four winners from 37 rides, whilst last term, he finished with 22 winners from 133 rides. Providing Henderson continues to trust some of his Seven Barrow stars in the hands of the 21 year old, McGrath is certain to have a bright future in National Hunt racing and is another to look out for.
Conor O'Farrell is another youngster who has really caught the eye over the past year. Riding for David Pipe, O'Farrell has ridden some nice winners for his Pond House employer, including joint-favourite for the RSA chase, Dynaste.
Much like the other young jockeys who have caught the eye, O'Farrell is well assisted by the fact he's on the books of a leading stable. However, in order to maintain that, he must continue to prove he has the ability get the best out of a horse and ultimately win races. A total of 38 placed horses from 87 rides so far in the 2012/2013 season suggests he knows exactly what he's doing and possesses everything required to go all the way to the top and he too is one to note for the future.