O'Neill's track double a clear sign of his talent
Congratulations to Barry O'Neill, Ballindaggin, who rode a great double for Gordon Elliott at the Bank Holiday Monday track meeting at Down Royal.
Barry is third in the point-to-point riders' championship on 37 wins, behind Derek O'Connor and Jamie Codd, despite suffering disruptions recently with some falls and injuries, but he really showcased his talent here.
It was comfortable enough on 4/11 favourite, Flaxen Flare, in the five-year-old plus beginners' chase. However, his other win, on top weight Make a Track (15/2) in the two miles, four furlongs handicap chase, showed O'Neill at his brilliant best.
He was headed on the run-in by Marito, ridden by regular point-to-point rival, Noel McParlan, but Make a Track rallied under a great drive by O'Neill to get back up near the line to win by half a length.
Barry led for much of the season in the northern point-to-point riders' championship, but he missed out a few weekends through injuries and is now four behind Derek O'Connor and three behind Noel McParlan.
The final meeting of the northern season is a two-day fixture for the Fermanagh Harriers at Irvinestown on Friday and Saturday, and Barry still has a chance but needs to really hit the winners jackpot.
Jamie Codd has the eastern riders' title wrapped up but he has something to aim at in the final east meeting at Stradbally on Sunday - he has won this title ten times and needs just one more winner to equal his 2010-'11 record total of 47. Few will be betting against Jamie setting new figures here.
The two-day Muskerry Foxhounds point-to-point concluded at Dawstown, Grenagh, Co. Cork, on May 4, Bank holiday Monday, and it was a good day for Wexford connections, with involvement in three winners.
The very much in-form Donnchadh Doyle stable was on the mark early in the 15-runner four-year-old geldings' maiden with newcomer Grey Storm (September Storm-Lady Blayney) coming home in impressive style under Rob James for the Monbeg Syndicate.
He was four lengths ahead of Jamie Codd on Chase Me, trained by Liam Kenny (Craanford) for hotelier Pat Redmond from Gorey.
James later had a visit to hospital to check out a wrist injury after a fall from Wolf on the Run at the second last in the five-year-old geldings' maiden, and he was on the easy list at the weekend.
Gordon Doyle from Knockmullan House, New Ross, scored again in the winners of two with Applesandpierre in the colours of his girlfriend, Janelle Kirwan, under regular partner, Mark Scallan from Cleariestown.
John Berry was formerly a very successful rider and now operates as a trainer at Blackwater. He sent out his owned and trained Pennywell (Gold Well-Boyne Bridge) under champion Derek O'Connor to pick up the five-year-old mares' maiden.
This compensated for some bad luck at Oldcastle two weeks earlier when she slipped up on the run-in with the race at her mercy.
On Saturday the action switched to Athlacca for the Co. Limerick Foxhounds meeting. Mark Scallan rode his second winner of the week when he was four lengths clear on Subtle Sue (Subtle Power-Pans Partner), trained by John Martin Walshe and owned by James Kirwan from Camolin.
Richie Deegan (Borris) and South Wicklow's Aidan Fitzgerald kept up their recent good run in race one, the four-year-old geldings' maiden, with Bigirononhiship (Beneficial-Portabello Lady) for Philomena Crampton.
Sunday's meeting was hosted by the United Hunt Foxhounds at Ballydennisk, Watergrasshill, Co. Cork, and we had to wait until the final race for a full Wexford success in the winner-of-two event.
J.J. Slevin scored here by four lengths on Ash Rowe (Milan-Kaysel), trained by his father, Shay, at Kiltrea, Enniscorthy, for Michelle Ryan. Second in an all-Wexford finish was Jamie Codd on Redmond, trained by Liam Kenny for Gorey owner, Pat Redmond.
Jamie Codd won the five- and six-year-old geldings' maiden by five lengths on Murdo MacKensie for Jimmy Mangan from Conna, Cork, with Shane O'Rourke (Foulksmills) filling second on Billy's Boy for John P. O'Callaghan of Carrick-on-Suir.
Barry O'Neill was second in the opening four-year-old maiden on Colin Bowe's Farm the Rock, a length behind Joseph Ryan's Clare-trained Point of Departure. Jamie Codd was third on Tom Keating's Book Direct.
In the four-year-old plus race, Jamie Codd on Liam Kenny's Vital Plot, which he has partnered at both Cheltenham and Punchestown this year, ran into second place two lengths behind course specialist, Lenamore Boy, who was having his fourth win at the Ballydennisk track. It was a third second place in the week for Kenny.
There was not a lot of movement on the championship table this week, but it is neck and neck in the handlers' race with Donnchadh Doyle's Muskerry win leaving him just one behind Colin Bowe, 24 wins to 23.