O'Neill treble closes gap
Barry O'Neill from Ballindaggin scored a great riding treble at the Tipperary Foxhounds meeting at Lisronagh, near Clonmel, on Sunday to gain big ground over perennial champion, Derek O'Connor, who left the same meeting empty-handed.
O'Connor still leads on 17 wins, but now is just two ahead of O'Neill, with Rob James on eleven and Jamie Codd on five. There were first points wins of the season for trainers Vincent Devereux, Leonard Whitmore and Paul Nolan.
Barry O'Neill began his hat-trick in the opening four-year-old maiden on favourite Minella Beau (King's Theatre-Ney Will) for Colin Bowe and owner John Nallen. He survived a mid-race scare when almost carried out, took up the running shortly after and stayed on well to hold off Derek O'Connor on The Punisher by two lengths.
Minella Beau is heading for the sales this Friday and this run will certainly not have done him any harm.
His second winner came in the six-year-old geldings' maiden, and this one was a season's first for Leonard Whitmore, the Gorey man training near Blackwater, and the Fort Road Syndicate. O'Neill took it up two from the end on Flatherty's Gap (Cragisteel-All Points) and was not troubled to score by six lengths.
The treble was completed in the mares' open event when O'Neill made all on the hot favourite Maple Mons for his Co. Fermanagh trainer David Christie, who leads the handlers' championship on nine, just one ahead of Colin Bowe, with John Paul Brennan and Donnchadh Doyle on five winners each.
Trainer Vincent Devereux from Rostoonstown, Tomhaggard, and his owner father, Jimmy, got off the mark for the season in the five-year-old geldings' maiden when Makeapoint (Publisher-Ollar Lady) pulled off a shock under a well-timed run under Shane O'Rourke from Foulksmills. Heavyweights, Derek O'Connor and Robert Tyner, were second with Braxton Hicks.
Trainer Paul Nolan enjoyed the one Wexford winner at the Louth Foxhounds meeting at Tattersall's Farm, Fairyhouse, and it was a bit fortuitious in the opening four-year-old maiden.
Three of the leading lights fell at the last, leaving the coast clear for Roger Quinlan to cruise in by eight lengths on Back Door Johnny (Westerner-Nolagh Supreme) for Seán Cleary. Jamie Codd was second on Thomas Do for Richard Black, the closest he came to a winner on the day.
Sparkling River ran well for Rob James in the 16-runner five-year-old mares' maiden, but had to accept second for John Paul and Marie Brennan, while James also had to settle for a well-beaten second on the Hugh Doyle-owned and trained Mia's Milan in the six-year-old plus maiden, with Bailito Bay third for the Slevins from Kiltrea, Enniscorthy.
The final point-to-point meetings before Christmas will be staged on Sunday (December 13), with the Carlow Farmers closing the south-east session at Borris House, and the United Hunt hosting at Ballynoe in Cork.
Finally, I would like to re-visit a result from last week that I messed up. The opening four-year-old maiden at Ballindenisk in Cork was won by Piri Massini (Pierre-Lady Doctor), trained at Duncormick by Ashleigh Murphy and owned by her husband, Michael.
The bay gelding stuck on really well under Ballycullane jockey, Gary Murphy, for a gutsy win. It was a first of the season for all three of them.
My apologies to all involved for getting things wrong; wins are difficult to achieve and it is only right they be properly attributed and recognised.