O'Neill reaches big milestone
Jockey rides 350th winner
This was a special weekend for Ballindaggin rider, Barry O'Neill, who surpassed a number of milestones as he had four far-flung wins, two in Necarne, Co. Fermanagh, and two in Bartlemy, Co. Cork.
He is now on a very impressive 350 winners in his point-to-point career, and his 53 for this season is a new high, beating the 52 he achieved in 2013-'14. In the title race he closed the gap to Jamie Codd to four, 57 to 53.
It was a rare blank weekend for runaway champion trainer Colin Bowe, though Donnchadh Doyle kept up his recent great surge with three more maiden wins while Jim Mernagh from Coolamurray, Davidstown, saddled his first winner of the season at Stradbally, Co. Laois.
The weekend racing action began with a two-day meeting hosted by the Fermanagh Harriers at Necarne on Friday and Saturday, and it produced six Wexford riding wins and two more four-year-old maiden victories for local trainers.
On Friday, Donnchadh Doyle and the Monbeg Syndicate took the opening Division 1 of the four-year-old mares' maiden with Redhotfillypeppers (Robin Des Champs-Mhuire na Gale), ridden to a comfortable success by Harley Dunne.
Rich Deegan and trainer Aidan Fitzgerald from Borris had second with Ellens Way; Jamie Codd was third on Denis Murphy's Big Penny, and Barry O'Neill was fourth on Colin Bowe's Aunt Eva.
Dunne and Doyle were foiled of a double in Division 2 on another Robin Des Champs product, Robin Deuz Pois, beaten by Warren Ewing's Final Reminder, with Jimmy O'Rourke third on Denis Murphy's Presenting Lucina.
Codd had his first winner in the five-year-old geldings' maiden on board Some Chaos for Downpatrick trainer, Brian Hamilton, ahead of Jimmy O'Rourke on Bernadette Murphy's Another Venture.
Barry O'Neill kept pace with Codd on an old favourite in the geldings' winner of three, guiding Camolin's John Paul Brennan's Boruing Up A Storm (Brian Boru-Liskilnewabbey) to his fourth, and O'Neill's 50th, win of the season.
On Saturday, the four-year-old maiden was for geldings and it was dominated by Wexford connections. Winner was Denis Murphy's Drover's Lane (Oscar-Minnie Turbo) ridden by Jamie Codd, from Jimmy O'Rourke on Colin Bowe's Back to the Thatch and Donnchadh Doyle's The Great Getaway, under Barry O'Neill.
O'Neill again kept tabs on Codd in the title race on another old friend in the Adjacent Hunt Race, Maple Mons scoring for the fourth time this season for David Christie, with Barry being on board for three of those wins.
However, Codd had the last word at this meeting in the last when he rode The Trigger to victory in the older geldings' maiden for Caroline McCaldin from the North, her first win as a trainer.
Barry O'Neill had a double at the United Hunt Foxhounds meeting at Bartlemy in Cork on Sunday. He began the day on a winning note, scoring nicely on Super Follo (Enrique-Summer Belle) for the Monbeg Syndicate, and giving Donnchadh Doyle his tenth four-year-old maiden win of the season. Harley Dunne was third on Mick's Wish for Colin Bowe.
The Monbeg Syndicate had the first three home in Division 2 of the four-year-old maiden; Going Gold (Goldwell-Wednesday Girl) was first under in-form Harley Dunne (The Ballagh) for Seán Thomas Doyle. Second just one and a half lengths behind was Cave Top under Pat Collins, and third was Barry O'Neill on Pulp Fiction, both for Donnchadh Doyle. The total Wexford clean sweep was completed by Jimmy O'Rourke in fourth on Denis Murphy's Manitowoc County.
O'Neill and Donnchadh Doyle completed doubles in the five-year-old geldings' maiden, with Moving in Style (Mountain High-Good to Travel) holding on well to win by half a length.
Barry almost made it a treble in The Winner of One contest, being caught just short of the line on Paul Nolan's Robinroyale, by Kieran Purcell's Battle of Clontarf.
Harley Dunne had to settle for second in the five-year-old mares' maiden on Donnchadh Doyle's Chicago Grey, being beaten by J.V. Redmond's (Tullow) Timetobenefit, ridden by the trainer's son, Niall, scoring his first win of the season.
The Laois Foxhounds at Stradbally Hall completed the week's action and, unusually enough for this season, did not produce much Wexford success and an even more unusual blank day for Jamie Codd who had to be content with a trio of places.
However, it was a happy day for Jim Mernagh, Coolamurray, Davidstown, owner and trainer of Magic River (Indian River-All Magic) which gave him his first win of the season under Roger Quinlan in the five-year-old geldings' maiden.
J.J. Slevin did get a second on Times are Grey for Seán Thomas Doyle in the older mares' maiden, ahead of Shane O'Rourke on Testthewater for Vincent and Jimmy Devereux, Rostoonstown.
There are just two meetings next weekend but they will involve lots of travelling; the last on the Northern circuit is at Maralin, Co. Down, on Saturday, and they race at Dromahane in Cork on Sunday.