Monday 21 October 2019

Codd wins epic battle

Coveted Irish jumps jockey title secured for first time

Jamie Codd celebrating his first champion amateur title with his parents, Billy and Mary Frances. Photograph: Dave Barrett
Jamie Codd celebrating his first champion amateur title with his parents, Billy and Mary Frances. Photograph: Dave Barrett

Horse racing by Pegasus

Jamie Codd is the Irish jump jockeys' amateur champion for the first time after an epic battle with Patrick Mullins, top dog for the past nine years, which was only decided in the final race of the season at Punchestown on Saturday.

It is quite amazing that they should have 282 rides between them over a long season and yet it was in the melting pot to the very end, with Codd ending up ahead by 41 winners to 40.

It was quite a rollercoaster ride all through the week at Punchestown.

Codd went in leading by two and he seemed to have the title in safe keeping when he had three winners to lead by five and Mullins had only six rides left in the closing two days.

But Mullins hit back hard and did much to retain the trainers' title for his father, Willie, with a 530/1 treble on Friday, including two grade ones in successive races.

On Saturday, Codd led by two with one ride left; Mullins had two chances and he grabbed the second-last race on a 20/1 shot, Open Eagle.

It was all down to the last race of the season - Codd's mount, The Shearers Wife, never really showed and was well back in ninth; Mullins forced the pace on Sparky Stowaway but he faded into fourth at the end. The race was won by Katie Walsh on Vocarium for local Kildare trainer, Peter Fahey, and Jamie was amateur champion for the first time

It was a wonderful achievement and the result of a lot of hard work. Most of his track winners have come in bumpers for Gordon Elliott.

On quite a few weekends, he has travelled the country to point-to-point meetings for two or three rides in the early races and then had to dash by car to catch the concluding bumpers at various tracks, but it has now all worked out.

Peter Fahey and Katie Walsh did him a favour in that last race, and Fahey also got him off on the right foot at Punchestown as Jamie won the first race of the meeting over the banks on his Enniskillen on Tuesday.

He followed up with a great double on Wednesday on two mares he was very familiar with - he won the €100,000 Grade 1 champion bumper on Fayonagh for Elliott, doubling up on his Cheltenham Festival success, and then he beat Mullins by half a length in a driving finish to the €50,000 Grade 3 mares' bumper on Minutestomidnight for Cork trainer, Jonathan Sweeney.

Codd had won a point-to-point on Sweeney's horse at Lingstown over a year earlier and also won a bumper on her at Wexford on April 7.

The horse was sold for €200,000 at the Punchestown sale the following evening.

Of course, the Fayonagh story is now well known - she won a bumper at 33/1 for Richie Rath (Screen) at Naas in November under J.J. Slevin when owned by two Wexford couples; Jamie then bought the horse at the sales for her current owners and rode her to a big win at Fairyhouse and then the champion bumper at Cheltenham.

This is just the latest milestone in Codd's outstanding career since he had his first point-to-point and track winners in 2001. In recent years he has been concentrating more on the point-to-point circuit where he has had over 800 winners, only exceeded by multiple champion, Derek O'Connor, and he has been champion twice. He also won the Amateur Derby at Epsom in 2016 on J.J. Quinn's Hubertus.

His 41 track winners this season has been his best by far; he had 24 way back in the 2003-'04 season, and only had six last year.

He can now concentrate on retaining his point-to-point title but has a big task as he trailed Barry O'Neill from Ballindaggin by eight on Sunday evening.

He received his trophy from Horse Racing Ireland chairman, Joe Keeling.

Other Wexford jumps riders also had a good season. Seán Flanagan (Palace East) finished in sixth place in the championship with 46 winners, exceeding his previous best tally of 30 a year earlier. Jamie Codd was eleventh with his 41 winners with a 31% win strike rate, second only to Ruby Walsh.

J.J. Slevin was 18th with 20 winners, a very promising start in the professional ranks. He was one place ahead of Mikey Fogarty with 19 wins; Jonathan More was 34th with 12. A total of 138 riders actually rode winners in the season.

Liz Doyle of Crossabeg finished 14th in the trainers' championship with 18 winners, her best total, just exceeding the 17 she achieved twice in recent years.

Enniscorthy Guardian