Title triumph inches closer
Last Sunday was a cracking afternoon for me. I had two winners at the Inchydoney Island point-to-point in Clonakilty, and then saddled the first two home in the beginners' chase at Downpatrick. Days like that don't come around too often.
My double in Clonakilty probably sealed the point-to-point handlers' title. It put me seven ahead of Robert Tyner on 32 winners, and there is only this weekend left in the season. If Robert wins it from there, he'll surely deserve it!
All told, it has been a great campaign. We've improved on the tally that won us the title 12 months ago by a couple, and added another 17 on the track in the same period that I would have never had before. You'd have to be happy with that.
Running horses under rules is a new diversion for me. Producing point-to-pointers to sell was always my thing, but I was also losing horses to the track that failed to sell.
In the end, it made sense to keep those myself. Things have worked out well. I have no desire to expand too much more, but it's nice to be doing well with what we have.
Buying and selling is still where it's at for me. When you are doing that, you are getting in fresh blood every year. It's fine to have the same horses year in, year out if they are decent, but owners get fed up otherwise.
The vast majority of horses that I keep for the track are mares. Generally, mares are much harder to sell on, so that's the simple reason for that.
Every one of the half-dozen that I ran on the track on Sunday and Monday were mares. Model County Lass had won three point-to-points, a bumper and a hurdle before getting off the mark over fences at Downpatrick. She had loads of experience.
Representing, which finished second to her, had only won at Punchestown over hurdles recently. She actually jumped less novicey than I thought she would.
When she won at Punchestown, she got me into all sorts of trouble. The stewards handed me a €3,000 fine for not reporting that she had cracked a heel when she pulled up on her previous run, which was an awful sentence to get.
I had to appeal, and I'm glad to report that the hearing went well yesterday. As it happened, the stewards on the day should have referred the case. The net result anyway is that the case was dismissed, so I'm delighted about that. A lesson learned!
It has been an uneventful week otherwise. I was in Ballinrobe for the first time ever on Monday evening, a destination that makes Downpatrick feel like home -- five and a half hours it took to get there from Kiltealy!
By the time I got home at 4.0 in the morning, I was a spent force. David O'Connor, of 'You're A Star' fame a few years back, drives the box for me a lot of the time these days, so it's a journey I'll leave to him in future.
I didn't even have a winner to bring home on Monday. Glibin ran well to be second in the bumper, beaten by a Montjeu mare that had cost €145,000 as a yearling. Glibin cost €2,200, so there was no shame in her getting done for a bit of toe.
Tonight, I have Knockreigh in the beginners' chase at Tramore. He has won a point, which should give him a chance. Our Victoria will also make her chasing debut at Listowel on Monday, and you'd have to give her a squeak too as she jumps so well.
In the points, Milderina, a good third on her first start of the season in Clonakilty, will be hard to beat in the mares' open at Kinsale tomorrow. Millers Reef is another that should go close. That one will probably make its debut at Ballingarry on Sunday, and I'll be disappointed if he doesn't put up a big show.
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