Murphy scores twice in maidens at Curraghmore
Denis Murphy from The Ballagh had his second four-year-old maiden win in four days when he built on his Inch victory on Wednesday in the geldings opener at the Waterford Hunt meeting at Curraghmore on Sunday.
His Solighoster (Loup Solitare-Miss Martine), owned by Maria Byrne, got the better of an all-Wexford finish under Jimmy O'Rourke, Ballycogley, and he is now bound for the Aintree sales.
They survived a last fence error to hold off Donnchadh Doyle's Champion Chase under Harley Dunne by three-quarters of a length, with Seán Thomas Doyle's Pull Together a head back under Podge Collins, both owned by the Monbeg Synidcate.
Dunne went one better in the Winner of One when he was a clear winner on Barramundi for Michael and Colm Griffin.
Gary Murphy from Ballycullane looked like a winner in the five-year-old plus mares' maiden on Queeny, trained by John Martin Walsh (Duncormick) for the Forge Syndicate, but he was caught on the run in by Shay Barry's That's My Robin. Third here was Headorharp, ridden by Shane O'Rourke (Foulksmills) for Vincent and Jimmy Devereux (Rostoonstown).
There was a tight finish to the concluding twelve-runner older geldings' maiden and Wexford connections had to accept the minor placings - Joe Scallan was third on the Willie Codd-owned and trained Flabello, and Shane Fitzgerald was fourth on Free Ranger for trainer Richard O'Keeffe and owner Paddy McDonald.
The fourth annual international point-to-point challenge between Britain and Ireland was held as part of the Wednesday Killeagh Harriers meeting at Inch, east Cork, and overall victory went to the visitors.
The Irish men's team were ahead on points after Derek O'Connor won and Jamie Codd came fourth, with the English filling second and third places. Barry O'Neill and Rob James completed the Irish men's side. However, the Irish ladies were heavily outpointed and this tilted the overall balance in favour of the visitors.
In other races at the fixture, there was another big four-year-old mares' maiden win for Denis Murphy from The Ballagh; Big Robin (Robin Des Champs-Melodique) stayed on strongly under Jamie Codd to beat Enda Bolger's Molly Childers by three lengths.
In the four-year-old geldings' maiden, Wexford had to take the minor placings behind Sam Curling's Ardmayle - Harley Dunne was second one and a half lengths behind on Seán Thomas Doyle's Skinflint; Jamie Codd was third on Drovers Lane for Denis Murphy and Barry O'Neill was fourth on Shantou Rock for Colin Bowe.
Codd completed a double in the five-year-old geldings' maiden aboard the favourite, Sumkindofking, for Denis and Michael Ahern. Donnchadh Doyle supplied the second in the woman's international race, Chester Copperpot being steered by English team member, Hannah Watson, in the older geldings' maiden.
The Co. Clare Harriers raced at Quakerstown on Sunday and there was little Wexford interest in it. It was a bad day for the eleven times champion rider, Derek O'Connor, when he broke his tibia in a heavy fall in the fifth race and looks set to be sidelined for up to ten weeks. It's very bad luck for him and all points supporters will wish him a good recovery.
O'Connor is on 35 winners; now just two ahead of Jamie Codd who added four during the week and was very much back in contention after missing over a month himself through injury in the early part of the season. Barry O'Neill is third on 31 and Rob James is fourth on 22. The championship could now turn into a straight shoot-out between the two top Wexford riders.
Colin Bowe extended his lead in the trainers' championship to five, 17 to David Christie's twelve, with Donnchadh Doyle climbing to eight, alongside John Paul Brennan, and Denis Murphy is on six.
They race in Loughanmore, Co. Antrim, today (Tuesday); there have been a few more cancellations and a new fixture has been added for Bree Hunt at Monskgrange, Rathnure, on this Saturday. They will also race on Sunday at Templemore in Tipperary and Ballynoe in Cork.