Significant milestone for O'Neill
The new point-to-point horse racing season began last weekend with meetings in counties Antrim and Limerick, and it was a great start for Ballindaggin rider, Barry O'Neill, whose three successes brought him to the 300 point-to-point winners milestone.
O'Neill, third behind Derek O'Connor and Jamie Codd in last year's riders' championship on 43 wins, was in the thick of the action at the two meetings, also recording five seconds and a third over the two days. O'Connor also racked up three winners.
Barry rode his first winners in the 2006-'7 season; he was the novice (Under-21) national champion in 2010 and has been consistently riding well over 40 winners in the past five or six years.
He got off at the mark at the Antrim Foxhounds meet at Toombridge on Saturday on You Must Know Me for trainer D.M. Christie in the open for four-year-olds plus, a horse that will be aimed at big things this season.
The Murphy family from Duncormick had quite a good raid up north with rider Gary, trainer Ashleigh and owner Michael coming second with Redbridge Rudi in the five-year-old geldings' maiden, and third with Looks Majestic in the six-year-old plus geldings' race.
The action moved to Bruff on Sunday for the Limerick Foxhounds and O'Neill won a thriller in the five-year-old mares' maiden by a neck on The Model County (Robin Des Champs-Ware It Vic), for the White Gold Syndicate, getting joint national trainers' champion, Colin Bowe, off the mark for the new season.
O'Neill completed his double and reached the 300-winner mark in the final race when he steered home Knockraha Boss for former star rider, Adrian Maguire.
Derek O'Connor repelled a strong Wexford challenge in the opening four-year-old maiden on Product of Love for Shark Hanlon; O'Neill was second on Bowe's Ballycrystal, from Jimmy O'Rourke (Ballycogley) on Denis Murphy's (The Ballagh) Admiral Kid, and Rob James (Ballindaggin) on Bowe's Patsy Milan.
The winners of two race went to Carry on Asian ridden by E.P. O'Brien for owner/trainer J.P. Baragry, with O'Neill second on Skip a Beat Kid for John Paul and Marie Brennan from Camolin.
He was also second on Man of Mysteries for Henry Cleary and trainer Richard Rath from Screen.
The action moves to Loughbrickland, Co. Down, on Saturday and Castletown-Geoghegan on Sunday for the Westmeath Foxhounds meeting.