Rare happening as Codd absent from winners' list
After all the Cheltenham excitement, the main East Region point-to-point focus switched to Ballyraggett, Co. Kilkenny, on Sunday for the North Kilkenny Foxhounds meeting.
It has to be said that while the usual Wexford connections did not exert their dominance on this occasion, there were some good performances and three winners with Wexford links.
It was notable that Jamie Codd, needing just one more winner to reach the remarkable 700 mark, went away empty-handed from five rides - a rare occurrence.
Paul Martin Pierce from Killurin trained the first winner, Sweet Little Kitty (Robin Des Champs-Alcrea), scoring on her debut, ridden up with the pace most of the way by J.T. Carroll for the Model Garden Syndicate.
Just six runners went to post for the five-year-old geldings' maiden but it was still a dramatic contest. Sweettoothtommy was the hot favourite for trainer Denis Murphy, The Ballagh, and seemed set for victory until crashing out at the last.
This left the finish to be fought out by two Wexford horses, with the win going to Make You Think (Publisher-Dev's Delight) for James and Vincent Devereux, ridden by Seán O'Rourke, from Le Saumon, ridden by Robbie James for Colin and Brigid Bowe, Kiltealy.
Jamie Codd must have felt he was in with a good chance on Gullivar, a winner for him two weeks ago at Tinahely, but he ran into a hot shot in Luska Lad, trained by 'Shark' Hanlon for Barry Connell and ridden by Rachael Blackmore. This one had been due to run in the Foxhunters at Cheltenham but did not make the cut.
Rob James, last year's champion novice, scored in the winner-of-one on Rebel Benefit, owned and trained by Eamonn Fehily from Cork.
He held on in a thrilling finish to win by a head, with Barry O'Neill and Eddie Keating filling minor places for Paul Martin Pierce and Roy Tector.
The action began on Saturday in Kirkistown, Co. Down, with the only Wexford-linked winner being Kayf Supreme under Jamie Codd for Alan Potts and Jim Dreaper, getting back up close home to foil Barry O'Neill on Jonniesofa for Colin Bowe.
Minor placings were filled by Rob James (Rolling Dylan, second for Shane Donohoe), Barry O'Neill (second on Escape Footwear for Colin Bowe) and Jamie Codd (thirds for Gordon Elliott on Balzac Turgot and Slemish for George Stewart).
Other meetings were held on Sunday at Tuam (North Galway Harriers) and the Kilworth and Araglen Harriers in Cork. These yielded no Wexford winners but Denis Murphy had a second with Le Feu Royal under J.P. Murphy, and Colin Bowe got a third in the mares' winner-of-two with Temple Cloud, ridden by J.R. Doyle.
Derek O'Connor's two winners in Tuam mean he has extended his lead in the jockeys' championship - he is now on 53, Jamie Codd on 46 and Barry O'Neill on 27. O'Neill leads Jamie Codd by 12 to 9 on the North Circuit, while Codd has a commanding lead over O'Neill on the East circuit, 35 to 12.
There was no change at the top of the trainers' table this week and Colin Bowe on 16 is ahead of Robert Tyner on 14 and Gordon Elliott on 13.
There is local action for the next two Sundays, with the Carlow Farmers' meeting at Borris on March 22 and the Bree Hunt meeting at Monksgrange, Rathnure, on March 29.