O'Neill rides three weekend winners
The Hardy point-to-point folk had to endure dreadful wet and windy conditions at Ballinaboola on Sunday for the Wexford Foxhounds meeting, but the Moorfield track stood up well to the battering and the card was successfully completed, to the great credit of all concerned, with a large degree of local success.
Meeting Secretary, Brigid O'Gorman, was happy that everything had gone off so well in the difficult conditions and she thanked all the officials and volunteer stewards for their work in preparation and on the day itself.
Overall, it was a good weekend for Barry O'Neill who rode three winners over the two days, while Rob James had a double at Ballinaboola and Jamie Codd belatedly got off the mark with his first two winners of the season. There were training doubles for Colin Bowe and John Paul Brennan from Camolin.
Rob James was the central figure for the first three races at Ballinaboola on Sunday, with two winners and a hard luck story.
The bad luck came in the first, the DPS Hennessy Sale (November 27) four-year-old mares' maiden, when he cut out most of the running on Seán Doyle's The World's End until he came to grief at the second last, hampering Ronan Quinlan on Kagney.
There to pick up the pieces was Ballindaggin's young John Doyle who held on grimly to win by a head from the recovering Kagney on Colin Bowe's Ballymountain Boy (Mountain High-Minora's Return), owned by the Milestone Racing Partnership.
John Doyle had his first-ever winner last season and he is really impressing keen judges with his riding this year.
He has three winners now from just seven rides and looks like a serious contender for the Novice riders' championship.
Rob James got quick compensation for his initial misfortune with a quickfire double in the next two races. He struck first in the Horse and Hound Hotel five-year-old geldings' maiden on Park Steel (Craigsteel-Orient Star) for owner Una Lawlor and trainer Seán Finn who runs a tight operation at Killinick. He won by a length from King Charlie, ridden by Harley Dunne for David V. O'Brien, Blackwater.
In the third race, the Nitrofert five-year-old plus adjacent mares' maiden, James struck again for Bowe's double aboard No More Gin (Fruits of Love-Soignee) owned by Jack Conlan, which is now heading for the track. Bowe also had third, Katie's Hen, under Barry O'Neill.
He is joint leader of the handlers' championship on six winners, alongside David Christie from Fermanagh.
The Cooney Furlong Grain Company Winner of Two went to Ringrone Castle, the first ride of the season for Cork's Don Atkinson, a clear winner from the Barry O'Neill-ridden Deise Vu for Gary O'Neill.
The fifth race was the Ballywalter Farms open four-year-old plus, and here O'Neill got his head in front and completed a two-day double for himself and John Paul and Marie Brennan from Camolin on Need to Know (Definite Article-Desperado Queen).
He was eight lengths in front of John Berry's Cootamundra ridden by Jamie Codd, with Denis Murphy's Road to Croker in third. O'Neill is on ten winners in a great start to the season.
Codd went one better in the last, the Casey Enterprises six-year-old plus maiden, when he won on Texas Forever, owned by top rider Nina Carbery and trained by Ross O'Sullivan.
He was followed in by Barry O'Neill on Exbaal for G.D. Corrigan, Johnnyonepunch for the Slevins from Kiltrea, and Mia's Milan under Rob James for Hugh Doyle.
The weekend action began with the Iveagh Foxhounds meet at Maralin, Craigavon, Co. Armagh. Trainer John Paul Brennan's long journey north from Camolin paid off when Barry O'Neill was a clear 15 lengths winner on Boruing Up a Storm (Brian Boru-Liskilnew Abbey) for Marie Brennan in the winner of one. The gelding had been off the track for almost a year and looked good on his return.
O'Neill completed a quickfire double in the next, the open four-year-olds plus, when coming home ten lengths clear on You Must Know Me for northern trainer David Christie who has supplied him with a few winners this season.
The meeting produced a delayed first win of the season for Jamie Codd in the opening four-year-old maiden on Big Meadow for Peter Fahey, with Derek O'Connor second on Reigning Supreme and Harley Dunne third for Michael and Caitríona Goff from Clondaw, Ferns, on Clondaw Westie. Codd missed a few meetings after suffering first day injuries.
There was minimal Wexford interest in the Dromahane meeting of the Duhallow Foxhounds, Kanturk, on Sunday with most of the locals concentrating on Ballinaboola.
The meeting at Thomastown on Sunday week was a big day for 20 years old Barry Walsh and his family from Ballyday, Gorey. He recorded his first-ever win on Ballydarsi (Darsi-Ballyday) in the mares' maiden, holding on by a head in a tough finish with Philip Rothwell's Taboo.
The mare was bred and trained by Barry's dad, John, to make it a family success story. Sorry I did not pick up on this last week but I'm happy to set the record straight.
There's just one meeting next weekend: the Westmeath and Longford Harriers at Corbeagh House, Moatfarrell, Co. Longford. The Dungarvan Harriers meeting at Cappoquin in Waterford has been postponed.
The Killinick Harriers will race at the Lingstown track on Sunday week next, November 22.