Battle for riders' title intensifies
Racing at The Pigeons near Athlone was called off on Sunday but action went ahead in Limerick and Lismore, with the main Wexford interest concentrated on the Limerick Hunt meeting at Lemonfield where the big guns in the riders' championship were in opposition.
Clear winner in that battle was eleven-times champion, Derek O'Connor, who had a hat-trick to narrow the gap on Barry O'Neill and Jamie Codd.
In a thrilling finish to the older mares' maiden, the Galway man prevailed by half a length on Robert Tyner's Reine Des Pres over O'Neill on Colin Bowe's debutant, Classic Impact.
Codd also finished behind O'Connor on Tyner's Sir Bob in the five-year-old geldings' maiden on his brother William's Rio Vivas, with O'Neill well back in third on Bowe's What Another Year.
Codd was also second in the four-year-old mares' maiden on John Queally's Getaway Katie Mai, behind Shark Hanlon's Posh Trish
'Paddy' Scallan was second on William Codd's Imperial Oscar in the older geldings' maiden, behind Ray Barron on local horse, Black Scorpion.
Down in Lismore at the Waterford Hunt meeting, Rob James won the four-year-old maiden for another of the Ballindaggin Doyle brothers, Cormac, aboard The Dellercheckout (Getaway/Loreley), the only finisher from five starters.
Clare handler Joseph Ryan ignored racing in Limerick but came across to Waterford instead for the five- and six-year-old geldings' race with Just Your Type, and it paid off thanks to a fine ride by Jimmy O'Rourke (Belmont).
The re-scheduled meeting at Farmaclaffey, Co. Armagh, on Wednesday saw Barry O'Neill register the only Wexford success, on Puff My Pistons for Donegal trainer Charles Moore in the Winner of Two. Harley Dunne did register a couple of seconds for northern trainers.
The 'circus' returned to the North on Saturday for the East Down meeting at Tyrella, and Jamie Codd and trainer Denis Murphy (The Ballagh) won the four-year-old maiden with Palmers Hill (Gold Well/Tosca Shine) in very impressive style by 20 lengths and will now be sold at the Cheltenham Festival sale.
Jimmy O'Rourke rode Howaya Aoife to victory for Meath trainer Gerard Keane in the five- and six-year-old mares' maiden, a good chance ride as Jamie Codd was supposed to be on board, but racing was delayed and he had to depart for bumper duties at Navan.
Barry O'Neill's best for the day was second in the five- and six-year-old geldings' maiden on Colin Bowe's Alone No More for Milestone Racing, and Rob James was second on Asking Questions for Donnchadh Doyle in the Winners of Three.
O'Neill leads the riders' championship on 30, ahead of Jamie Codd on 26, and Derek O'Connor on 23; Rob James is fifth on 14.
The Killinick Harriers traditionally race at Lingfield on the Sunday before Cheltenham and the first is off at 1 p.m., and the open race over the banks is at 2.30 p.m.
They also race at race Kilworth in Cork, Belcare in Galway and at Horse and Jockey, Tipperary, and there is action at Kirkistown, Co. Down, on Saturday.