Doyle, James claim trebles
Local wins on exciting day
Sunday was the busiest day of the point-to-point season so far with four meetings spread around the country.
The main local focus was on the very successful Wexford Foxhounds event at Ballinaboola which featured trebles by jockey Rob James, and trainer Seán Thomas Doyle, a big crowd in perfect conditions and some really exciting finishes.
There was very good local support for the meeting in every sense and the results were dominated by the Wexford connections. Undoubted star of the day was Rob James from Tomona, Killanne, who won the first three races on the card and was just denied a four-timer in the next by 17-years-old Gearóid Doyle who was recording his first career win - a very special day for him.
This was the first weekend when the lucrative four-year-old maidens opened the proceedings. Wins in these races invariably lead to the next available sales and English buyers in particular have been shelling out huge amounts of money, as outlined in these pages over the past couple of years.
It's a part of the game that has been dominated by the Wexford battalions, led by the Doyle brothers, Colin Bowe, Denis Murphy, Michael Goff, Ashleigh Murphy and others.
However, the Englishsfruitnurseries.ie four-year-old maiden on this occasion went for 'export', but only just. Pat Doyle from Holycross, Tipperary, is an important man in fuelling the O'Leary's Gigginstown House operation and he proved the winner in Dorydalis, with Rob James prevailing by half a length in a thriller.
Just pipped was Frozen Flame for Ashleigh and Michael Murphy, Duncormick, in the hands of Gary Murphy, Ballycullane, with Henry's Joy third for the Corrigan's and John Fortune.
Rob James doubled up in the Tattersalls Ireland five-year-old geldings' maiden, on Seán Doyle's (Ballindaggin) Small Farm (Westerner-Eastertide) for the Monbeg Syndicate. This was another great ride as he held off the charging Double Portrait, trained by David O'Brien from Piltown, Kilkenny. The Murphy's from Duncormick were third with Buck Bravo, just ahead of Shanoule Wood, under J.J. Walsh for Kieran Roche (Adamstown).
James completed his treble and a double for Seán Doyle in the Gain Horse Feeds five- and six-year-old mares' maiden with a comfortable four lengths victory on Monbeg Zena (Flemensfirth-Mandy's Gold). Both of these Doyle winners will now be heading for the sales.
Second here was newcomer, Kygo, ridden by Luke Murphy for his father, John, from Inch. Mark Scallan (Cleariestown) was third on Echrad Carrlusa for Kevin O'Donnell, with Joseph Scallan fourth of the 14 runners on Uisce Ur for William Martin from Clonhaston.
Seán Doyle completed his hat-trick in the Nitrofert six-year-old geldings' maiden, and foiled Rob James this time in the process. Fightfirewithfire (Firebreak-Simianna), for the Monbeg Syndicate, won by two lengths under Gearóid Doyle who was scoring his first win between the flags. James was second on Burning Ambition for Pierce Michael Power from The Hook, clear of Mark Clifford's Doc Carver.
The Ballywalter Farms Winner of Three produced another very tight finish. The very consistent and gusty Teds Island (Heron Island-Morgans Lady) delivered again under Mark Scallan for trainer Michael John Murphy (Kilmore) and owner Seán Connick.
He had just a neck to spare over Eddie Keating (Gusserane) on Touchy trained by P.J. O'Gorman (Bunclody) for Mary Lett, who was clear of Battle Anthem under Harley Dunne for Liam Kenny, Ballydarragh, Craanford.
The concluding Horse and Hound older horses' maiden went to the aptly-named nine-year-old Eddies Miracle (Beat of Drums-Ballinamona Gold), providing a first training win of the season, and the fourth of his career, for regular rider Eddie Keating (Gusserane) under Ray Cody, for owner Peter Aspel.
They finished well strung out with First Crusade third for Laois man Willie Lanigan, with Joseph Scallan third on Roy Tector's At Tinryland.
Considering there were three other points on Sunday along with racing at Punchestown and all the other live and televised attractions, this was a successful and exciting day's racing and the total of 57 runners was the most at any of the four.
All the organisers and dozens of stewards can take a bow.