O'Brien lands share of spoils

Joseph O'Brien rode a final day double to draw level with Gary Carroll and Ben Curtis as the three shared the apprentice jockeys' title on 39 winners on a thrilling night at Dundalk.

O'Brien had the advantage of the backing of the powerful Ballydoyle stable, who have provided him with a large proportion of his winners, but he worked up a real head of steam in the final few weeks.

Carroll, the defending champion, and Curtis had struggled for victories as the season drew to a close with the final few meetings on the all-weather.


Fresh from a double on Wednesday, O'Brien struck on board Empowering (11-4) for his father, Aidan, in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden, making nearly all the running.

"She progressed nicely from her first run to her second and has done the same again here. Joseph felt she wouldn't mind stepping up to a mile after the last day. Hopefully she will continue to progress next year," said the winning trainer.

The all-important winner which drew him level was Regent Street (2-5 favourite), also trained by his father, who had to survive a steward's enquiry in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.

However, it could have all been so different as Carroll looked set to nick it in the final race when Dark Prospect hit the front but was caught in the final strides by Denny Crane (4-1).

Carroll was also on Via Mia, who was narrowly denied by No Trimmings (16-1) in the second division of the Crowne Plaza Leading Jockey & Trainer Championship Handicap.

Pat Smullen was crowned champion jockey with 95 winners, seven ahead of Fran Berry and eight ahead of Johnny Murtagh. "It's very satisfying and even more so this year as the other two lads gave it a good go," said Smullen. "It was very tight up until the last two or three weeks and I'm very relieved.

"I was always sitting comfortably until I went to Melbourne and Fran had a few winners which unsettled me a bit!

Murtagh returned from a short stint riding abroad with a winner on Sports Casual in the first division at Dundalk.

Riding the 9-2 favourite for Yvonne Dunleavy, Murtagh always looked confident in winning by two lengths.

Owner Paul Duffy already has a legitimate Cheltenham Gold Cup contender in Diamond Harry but he believes he has discovered a future heir to the greatest Festival prize by way of Friday's course winner Reve De Sivola.


Duffy is the figurehead of the Diamond Partnership, raised to such prominence when Diamond Harry landed the Hennessy a fortnight ago, and he does not hold back in his predictions for the younger horse.

Just five, Reve De Sivola needed to show a little more than when he was fourth on his first attempt over fences a month ago and the early signs were hardly encouraging.

The 3/1 shot found himself right at the back after walking through the first couple, but the whole shape of the race changed when the leader, Othermix, fell on jumping the water, bringing down Radium and hampering Wishfull Thinking.

Rebel Du Maquis was left out on his own but he ran out of steam before the last and Reve De Sivola picked him off, holding the brave Wishfull Thinking by a length and a quarter.

"He is relentless at the back-end of a race and his potential is unbelievable as a three-mile chaser," said Duffy.

"This is a Gold Cup horse of the future and the plan is to come back here at the end of January and then go for the two-and-a-half-miler (Jewson Novices' Chase) at the Festival."