Lady luck deserts Barry
The final meeting in the North region for the year was a two-day affair staged by Fermanagh Harriers at Necarne, and much attention focused on the battle for the North region rider's championship. Barry O'Neill (Ballindaggin) began the meeting on 16 winners, three behind Noel McParlan and four behind Derek O'Connor.
Lady luck did not smile on Barry as he had just one winner but five seconds over the two days. The title went to McParlan on 22, as he scored three winners to leapfrog O'Connor who, uncharacteristically, had two blank days to end on the 20 mark.
In the ongoing battle for the national trainers' title, Colin Bowe, Kiltealy, and Donnchadh Doyle from Ballindaggin had a winner each over the weekend to leave Bowe ahead by 25 to 24.
The Fermanagh meeting began well for Denis Murphy, The Ballagh, who sent out Arctic Lady (Milan-Arctic Rose), to win the four-year-old mares' maiden, owned by Thomas O'Sullivan and ridden by Jimmy O'Rourke, Ballycogley, who stood in for the suspended Jamie Codd to record his seventh win of the season. Third here was the William Codd-owned and trained Pursecco, ridden by Corky Carroll.
In the five-year-old geldings' maiden, Barry O'Neill was second on Letskeepit Simple, trained by Patrick Sinnott, but was well behind the winner, Drumconnor Lad. O'Neill had to be content with second again on board Honourable Exit for Colin Bowe in the geldings winner of three, behind Noel McParlan on Cousin Bill.
O'Neill finally got on the Friday winners' list in the seven-year-old plus mares' maiden on board Celtic Passion for Brendan Murphy and trainer Colin Bowe.
Day two on Saturday began on a high note for trainer, Michael Goff of Clondaw, Ferns, who registered his third winner of the season in the four-year-old geldings' maiden, with Bun Doran (Shantou-Village Queen), for owner Richard Frisby under jockey Shane Fitzgerald.
The vibes were very good about Bun Doran with seasoned observers predicting a bright future for this well-bred gelding.
However, it was a day of some frustration for O'Neill as he had three more seconds, including on Goonjim for Colin Bowe behind Bun Doran; on Phangio, again for Bowe, in the six-year-old geldings' maiden behind David Broad's Bringerofthedawn, and on Maple Mons for local Northern connections in the mares winner of three event.
On Sunday there was action at Stradbally Hall in Co. Laois and at Bartlemy in Cork, and there was a riding double for J.J. Slevin from Kiltrea, Enniscorthy, at the Laois Foxhounds meeting, and a first-ever training success for Wexford Hunt member, Susan O'Gorman, from Kellystown, Adamstown.
Slevin struck first in the divided five-year-old geldings' maiden when he won out in a great finish, getting up on Ballinvegga (Royal Anthem-Gill's Honey), trained by his father, Shay, and owned by Michelle Ryan, to pip the favourite, Inchcolm.
He completed his double in the five-year-old plus adjacent hunts maiden in another tight finish; he won by a neck on Kilna Shane (Gamut-Kabale), trained by M.O. Quigley and owned by Joseph Delaney.
Susan O'Gorman's big moment came in the seven-year-old plus maiden when her mare, Duplicate Daughter (Definite Article-Shady Pet), scored by just a neck under Pat O'Sullivan, who is involved in the horses with Susan. It was a family affair as the winner is owned by her father, Donal Patrick O'Gorman.
It was an all-Wexford finish as this time J.J. Slevin had to settle for second on the James Cousins-owned and trained Hi Lucy, and just a half length back in third was Tobar Liath, ridden by Richie Deegan, and trained by Island Hunt man, Marc Costello.
Down in Cork at the United Hunt Foxhounds meeting at Bartlemy, Barry O'Neill had his second winner of the week in Division 1 of the four-year-old mares' maiden on A Genie In A Bottle (Beneficial-Erkindale Miss), trained by Donnchadh Doyle for the Monbeg Syndicate.
A fine looking horse, he beat Jamie Codd into second place on Black Ace for Denis Murphy, with Michael Goff's Robintheaulad third for Shane Fitzgerald in an all-Wexford finish.
O'Neill was second on Theatre Mole for Colin Bowe in the five-year-old mares' maiden, two lengths behind Native Lass trained by Michael Winters. Third here was Donnchadh Doyle's Savingforvegas, with Derek O'Connor on board.
It was a big day for Roy Tector from Clonroche who trained and owned his first winner of the season in the winners of one race, with Clearly Capable (Bienamado-Spout Road) being steered home by Eddie Keating from Gusserane who was having his fourth winner of the season. Barry O'Neill was third on Freddie's Portrait for Colin Bowe and owner Carmel Byrne.
Leonard Whitmore's Golden Plasir, under a strong ride from Declan Queally, came very close to lifting the concluding six-year-old maiden for The Fort Road Syndicate, just failing by a head to catch Arnima, who was leading by eight lengths at the last fence and held on to give R.B. Tyner his first-ever win.
There are just six days racing left in the season which finishes on Monday, June 1, and next weekend there are just two meetings, in Ballybunion, Co. Kerry, on Saturday, and in Clonakilty, Co. Cork, on Sunday.