DAVID Christie and Barry O’Neill took the training and riding honours at the Portrush point to point with doubles. ‘Winged Leader’ took a competitive open contest, when leading three from home with former American Grand National winner, ‘Jury Duty’ always playing catch up and making mistakes at the penultimate and final fences.
Christie said: “He did that well. The hunterchase at Fairyhouse has been his target.”
The duo completed the brace when ‘Ask D’Man’ made a winning debut for the Fermanagh trainer, making all and scoring despite pressed by the runner up ‘Outside The Ring’ in the final mile.
The Derrylin trainer said: “I’ll look for a suitable winners race next.”
The Graham McKeever trained ‘Brayhill’, having been always prominent, prevailed by a head in a photo finish in the geldings maiden, denying ‘Vaucelet’ – the last named representing the trio of David Christie, Barry O’Neill and owner John Hegarty, a Portstewart hotelier who is also a major sponsor at the venue.
The Route Hunt meeting has long been a happy hunting ground for the Fermanagh trainer, with ‘Blue Fire’ and ‘Finoel’ – the last named again owned by Hegarty – winners of the North West Grand National in past years.
Multiple All-Ireland Champion rider, Derek O’Connor claimed the opener for leading owner, Wilson Dennison ending a frustrating run of placed efforts for the stable, when running last for most prior to delivering ‘Gortmillish’ late to lead after the last with ‘Garde des Champs’ having looked the winner.
Dennison said: “He’ll be for sale now.”
The Larne-based Crawford brothers, Stuart and Ben, landed the mares maiden with ‘Well Briefed’ holding the persistent challenge of ‘Oldtown Annie’. The Sam Curling trained, ‘Templeburn’ was the sole Southern success on the day, when reverting from open company and took the winners race in easy fashion.
Saturday, October 17
Portrush point to point
FIRST RACE: 1) Gortmillish, Derek O’Connor; 2) Garde Des Champs; 3) Airtothethrone. 12 ran. 3/4 – 9.
SECOND RACE: 1) Brayhill, Mickey Sweeney; 2) Vaucelet; 3) Presenting Jeremy. 9 ran, Head – 5.
THIRD RACE: 1) Well Briefed, Ben Crawford; 2) Oldtown Annie; 3) Mis Clogher. 7 ran, 1 – 10.
FOURTH RACE: 1) Winged Leader, Barry O’Neill; 2) Jury Duty; 3) Coastal Tiep. 5 ran. 6 – 4.
FIFTH RACE: 1) Templeburn, PA King; 2) Lough Derg Lyric; 3) Handy Headon. 8 ran, 2 1/2 – 3 1/2.
SIXTH RACE: 1) Ask D’Man, Barry O’Neill; 2) Outside The Ring; 3) Loughhill. 6 ran, 4 – 3.