Codd closes gap
Rider’s title set to go down to wire
Jamie Codd served notice over the weekend that he is not going to easily hand over his point-to-point rider's title when he outscored Ballindaggin rival, Barry O'Neill, by six wins to four over three racing days and now trails by just six, 59 to 53.
Sunday was potentially a key day as Codd had four winners on an eight-race card at Bartlemy in Cork while O'Neill drew a blank at Stradbally, Co. Laois.
The weekend started strongly for O'Neill at the two-day meeting at Necarne, Co. Fermanagh. He scored a great treble on Friday while Codd drew a blank and at that stage he led by eleven. His first came in the five-year-old mares' maiden on Gortnagirl (Mahler-Rebel Flyer) for Colin Bowe.
O'Neill's great northern mentor, David Christie, provided him with the final two winners - a third win in a row for Eddie's Miracle in the winner of three, and Corella Creek in the older mares' maiden.
Rob James also got in on the act, taking the five-year-old geldings' maiden on Belharbour for Gavin Cromwell, and James Doyle (Monageer) got back into a share of the lead for the Horse of the Year award when Liz Lalor drove home Sprintingforgold to a seventh win for the season, the same as Ourmanmassini.
Jamie Codd struck back with a double on day two on Saturday as he and O'Neill slugged it out. He won the opening four-year-old geldings' maiden on Good Man Pat (Goldwell-Basically Supreme) for Denis Murphy and Pat Coffey, well ahead of O'Neill on Donnchadh Doyle's Present from Dubai, and he won the concluding older geldings' maiden on Clock In for Jim Dreaper.
J.J. Walsh from Tinahely won the six-year-old geldings' maiden on Alka Step, owned and trained by his father, John Edward.
The open race was a head-to-head between the two Wexford riders, with O'Neill winning yet again on David Christie's Maple Mons, holding off Codd on Jim Dreaper's favourite, Cavite Beta. As they moved on to Sunday's action, O'Neill had stretched his lead at the top to ten, 59 to 49.
Codd was in rampant form at Bartlemy on Sunday with a four-timer and there were doubles for Rob James and trainer Denis Murphy as the Wexford connections took seven of the eight races.
Codd won the opening four-year-old mares' maiden for Denis Murphy and owner Maria Byrne on Ifyoucatchmenow (Westerner-Ifyoucouldseemenow), from Tillythetank under Rob James for James Doyle, and Asking A Lot for Harley Dunne and Seán Doyle.
Codd and the Murphy-Byrne combo doubled up in Division 2 of the four-year-old geldings' maiden on Hitman Fred (Getway-Garravagh Lass), ahead of Jan Maat for Rob James and Cormac Doyle, with Harley Dunne third on Seán Doyle's Champagnendiamonds.
He completed a great day by winning the last two events - on Allannahs Gold for Declan Queally, and racked up another success for his brother Willie in the older horses' maiden on Imperial Oscar (Oscar-Athy Princess), Willie's seventh win of the season, his best for six years.
Rob James kept up his recent great run with a double and he is in sight of the South region riders' title as he leads Declan Qually by three, 20-17, and is close-up fourth in the overall championship on 39 winners.
He won for Sam Curling (Tipperary) on The Crazed Moon, and for Tom Keating on Over Stated in the five-year-old geldings' maiden, ahead of J.J. Walsh on Shanoule Wood for Kieran Roche (Adamstown) and Codd on Denis Murphy's Neyja Blue.
The Monbeg operation and the Doyles are firing on all cylinders. Derek O'Connor rode a rare winner for them on Donnchadh's Invincible Cave (Court Cave-Bespoke Baby) in Division 1 of the four-year-old geldings'maiden, ahead of Rob James on Out For Justice for James Doyle and J.J. Walsh on Always Du Cerisier for Cormac Doyle.
Shane O'Rourke (Foulksmills) had a double at the Laois Hunt meeting at Stradbally, while Barry O'Neill was out of luck with four rides. O'Rourke scored in the five-year-old geldings' maiden on Ofcourseiwill (Publisher-Camden Princess) on debut for Vincent and Jimmy Devereux from Rostoonstown.
He won on Queen Matilda in the older mares' maiden for Brian Galvin (Co. Meath), ahead of Benny Walsh on Blazing Passion for Frank McGuiness (Blackwater).
It's all Wexford at the head of the trainers' championship, with Colin Bowe on 29, Denis Murphy on 24 (his best-ever season and a marvellous 27% strike rate), and Donnchadh Doyle on 23. The Monbeg Syndicate has amassed an amazing 57 winners through brothers Donnchadh, Seán Thomas and Cormac Doyle, and James W. Doyle (Monageer), who is not a brother!
There is just one meeting this weekend, at Dromahane, Co. Cork, on Sunday, and after that there will be six meetings left to the end of the season at Ballingarry on June 5 (bank holiday Monday).