Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 25 February 2018

Millennium man O'Connor to shine again on Visible Light

Tom Taaffe
Tom Taaffe
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

After a memorable weekend that saw him record a landmark 1,000th point-to-point triumph, Derek O'Connor can deliver today's nap vote on Francis Flood's Visible Light at Clonmel.

A native of Tubber on the Clare-Galway border, O'Connor is a riding phenomenon whose achievement has been favourably compared with AP McCoy's. Restricted to around 60 days of point-to-point activity a year, his haul of 1,002 wins includes over 720 maidens.

On Sunday at Cragmore in Limerick, the first and third leg of his treble were having their first outings, yet he rides with such composed authority that he made the job of winning seem almost routine.

Despite the fact that O'Connor specialises in riding greenhorn babies, he is a winning machine. His record is remarkable. A 10-time champion between the flags, O'Connor has a 25pc career win ratio.

While the dual Cheltenham Festival winner's legendary status was assured long before now, he will arrive at Clonmel sure to be the subject of a renewed sense of appreciation from hardcore jumps fans, and Visible Light appeals as nap material in the amateur riders' handicap hurdle.

The Shantou gelding ran the best race of his life when second over course and distance last week. Had Visible Light not landed flat-footed at the final flight, he might even have repelled Tb Broke Her.

Regardless, his performance confirmed that he is an improving sort, so he is fancied to make amends for the Grangecon, Co Wicklow handler.

The €12,500 conditions hurdle that gets proceedings under way is the best race of the day, with Tom Taaffe reintroducing his Grade Two-winning chaser Argocat in the eight-runner affair. Andrew Lynch's mount is among a number with chances, but preference is for the Willie Mullins-trained Aklan.

At Punchestown in January, Aklan just lost out to the smart Noble Endeavour after a ding-dong battle. That for

m has since been franked by the fourth home Gerdago getting placed in graded company on Sunday and the fifth, Turban, winning here over fences, so he should take a bit of stopping under Ruby Walsh.

Venitien De Mai is the one to keep on side in the longer maiden hurdle under Jonathan Burke, who might also score for his father Liam aboard Coolbane West in the two-mile edition.

In the beginners' chase that follows, the Burkes' fellow Co Cork natives Mary Louise Hallahan and Davy Russell might hold the key with the useful hurdler Deano.

Irish Independent

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