Three more winners for O'Neill
Barry O'Neill was the star turn again on the third weekend of the point-to-point season, following on his treble at Tinahely the previous week with three more winners in Antrim and Galway.
He began with a double at the East Antrim Hunt meeting in tough conditions at Loughanmore on Saturday, both for Colin Bowe. He won the five-year-old mares' maiden on Princess Mononoke (Oscar-Grande Solitaire), improving on the second place at Castletown-Geoghegan two weeks earlier.
His second was in the winner of two aboard six-year-old Kingston College (Kings Theatre-Princesse), taking it up at the final fence and easing four lengths clear. He also had a second and couple of thirds on the day.
Jimmy O'Rourke was second in the four-year-old maiden on Denis Murphy's debutant, Patriot's Prayer, and this one should be a winner soon.
Much the same could apply to Seán Thomas Doyle's Secret Mahler, second under Rob James in the five-year-old geldings' maiden. Both of these were behind winners from the strong Derek O'Connor- Colin McKeever team.
O'Neill's third win came at the Galway Blazers meet at Loughrea on Sunday in the opening four-year-old maiden on Forgetthesmalltalk (Flemensfirth-Mylane Du Charmil) for Seán Thomas Doyle.
He had a couple of seconds on Lacken Bridge for Bowe and Golander for Tom Nagle, again behind eleven times champion O'Connor in both, on Moyross for Enda Bolger and Ruairis Cloud for Robert Tyner. O'Connor is sure to mount a strong challenge to regain his title this season, being backed by lots of big guns.
Reigning champion, Jamie Codd, had four days on the sidelines after picking up an injury on Denis Murphy's gallops on Thursday morning, missing out on a couple of nice rides, but he was due to be back in action early this week.
It's very early in play but O'Neill has seven winners after just three weeks, two ahead of O'Connor, and Codd is on three.
Racing next weekend is at Portrush in the north on Saturday and Rathcannon in Limerick on Sunday.