Trebles for James and O'Neill
Riders Barry O'Neill from Kiltealy and Rob James from Killanne were in dominant form at the Carlow Farmers meeting at Borris House on Sunday when they overcame very heavy conditions to each record a treble on the last day of the Autumn schedule
It was the perfect end to a great week for reigning champion rider, O'Neill, who was selected as the Horse Racing Ireland Awards point to point winner for the first time the previous Tuesday. The treble also puts him four ahead (18-14) of great rival, Jamie Codd, in this year's title battle.
James has been making a big impression in recent years and was fourth in the National table last season with 43 winners, his best seasonal total. Despite the conditions there was a big entry of 90 horses on Sunday and the two four year old maidens had to be divided to give an eight-race card.
James began with a win for trainer Donnchadh Doyle and owner John Fitzhenry on board Malachy's Girl (Darsi-Borleagh Princess) in Division 2 of the four-year-old mares' maiden, well deserved after three second placings. Second was the staying-on Fiveaftermidnight, ridden by Harley Dunne (The Ballagh) for Shane Byrne (Blackwater).
The five-year-old mares' maiden was a grief-stricken affair with just two of nine finishing. A patient ride by James saw him avoid the trouble and guide home Kilcullen Bellamy (Black Sam Bellamy - Fenney Spring) to complete a Donnchadh Doyle double. Second was Illtellmema, ridden by Mark Scallan (Cleariestown) for John Martin Walsh (Duncocmick).
James completed his treble in the five-year-old geldings' maiden with a commanding win on Roundstone for Gearoid O'Loughlin.
Barry O'Neill and trainer Colin Bowe continued their assault on the lucrative four-year-old maidens; they won Division 1 of the mares with an impressive Western Victory (Westerner-Zara's Victory), 10 lengths clear of Benny Walsh (Murrintown) on Carrolls Milan.
In Division 2 of the geldings, they combined to win with Trevelyn's Corn (Oscar-Present Venture) and this one heads for this Friday's Cheltenham sale. Second here was Joseph O'Brien's On Call. O'Neill's treble came in the concluding older horses maiden on Alpha Male, a former Nicky Henderson inmate, now trained by Peter Maher in Kildare.
Denis Hickey from Foulksmills had not trained a winner for a few years but now he has turned out two in three weekends with his Rue Hill (Craigsteel-Romany River) beating former track and cross country star, On The Fringe, in the Open race. He won with Buckie Cullen at Knockinroe recently, and he also owns the two of them.
The 'Buckie' was one of the few Wexford runners at Boulta in Cork on Sunday but had to be content with fourth from 12. The Louth Hunt meeting at Tattersalls Farm fell victim to the weather. There is a break now until December 31 when racing resumes at Templenacarriga, Lisgoold, Co. Cork.