The lads at @Irishp2p are back with their latest blog, and this month they discuss a fantatsic season for the pointing game, and look back on a thrilling Anglo-Irish Challenge...
It has been another significant and compelling season for Irish pointing graduates between the rails. Grade 1 victories for Petit Mouchoir, Bacardys, Death Duty, Yorkhill and Special Tiara to name a few, have further advertised our sport this term. Aintree Grand National success for Lingstown winner One For Arthur, complemented this seasons main success story Finians Oscar, who progressed from winning a maiden at Portrush on debut, to becoming a two-time Grade 1 winner in the space of just seven months.
This continued success is further highlighted by a recent study carried out by animal therapist Rory O'Brien. O'Brien who we have mentioned previously in this column, examined closely the Grade 1 races run over the last two seasons, the results which have thrown up some remarkable returns in regards to ex-Irish pointers.
Throughout the 2015/16 and 2016/17 National Hunt seasons, 148 Grade 1 races were run in Great Britain and Ireland. These races produced 103 individual winners. Interestingly more than 85% of races won and individual winners had started their careers by the time they were four.
From a pointing perspective, impressively more than 20% of the races won and individual winners over the two-year period came from the Irish pointing field. Horses from this background lead the way and no other group of horses having broken 15% in terms of races won or individual winners.
Looking at last season alone, of the 74 Grade 1 races run in Great Britain and Ireland, 13(17.57%) were won by those who graduated from the pointing circuit and won a four-year-old maiden between the flags in Ireland. This figure is further enhanced when you take individual winners into account. Ten of those 13 winners were individual winners. Those statistics are remarkable and go some way to justify the large sums being paid for pointing graduates at the sales this year.
This seasons four-year-olds which have lined up between the flags have looked an above average bunch and we eagerly await to see if they can further enhance these statistics in the coming seasons.
Of those winners that already have had a track run to their name, runaway Rockfield winner Poli Roi has since finished third in a Grade 1 bumper at the Punchestown festival. Lingstown maiden winner Minellafordollars ran out a wide margin victor of a bumper at Navan, while we still intently await the track debuts of impressive Tattersalls Farm winners Slate House and Cool Getaway, along with £480,000 Tattersalls Cheltenham purchase Flemenshill, to name just a few. The future looks positive and it would be surprising if there was not a couple of future Grade 1 winners among this bunch.
The fifth edition of the Anglo-Irish Challenge took place recently and the Irish team finally had something to celebrate having recorded an emphatic victory over Great Britain at Kingston Blount in Oxfordshire.
The Irish team looked strong on paper and thankfully it worked out that way. The male team was made up of leading Irish riders Jamie Codd, Derek O'Connor, Barry O'Neill and Noel McParlan, while leading lady riders Lisa O'Neill, Liz Lalor, Maxine O'Sullivan and Shauna Larkin represented the ladies for the day event.
The winning-most jockey in the history of point-to-point racing in Ireland, Derek O’Connor kick-started proceedings for the visitors when landing the Conditions Race aboard Hunters Lodge.
With just six declared for the Ladies Open, it was the Maxine O’Sullivan-ridden Cut The Corner who prevailed for handler Martin Weston to give the Irish team a further boost.
The second and final men's challenge on the day could not have went much better for the visitors as they recorded a decisive 1-2-3, led home by recently crowned Champion Track Amateur Jamie Codd. The Wexford-native was drawn aboard the favourite Ka Maresco, a recent Irish point-to-point graduate, while Barry O’Neill, Codd’s big rival for the Irish point-to-point title over the coming week, returned in second, with Derek O’Connor completing the placings for the Irish.
Liz Lalor is on-course to record yet another ladies title between the flags in Ireland this season and she capped the day off in style for the visitors when landing the six-runner Intermediate contest. Lalor’s success ensured that the Irish team claimed all four races that featured as part of the challenge, the overall score finishing - Great Britain 43, Ireland 81.
The 2016/17 season is one that we can look back on with great appreciation and fondness for those that compete weekly within our sport. There have been many highlights, track winners or future track winners aside.
The battle between jockeys Barry O'Neill and Jamie Codd in the race to be crowned leading rider for the season, has been one of the closest we have had in years. It is to their credit that they pushed each other all the way to the finish, the title still not decided heading into the final weekend of the season.
The consistent dispute between Sprintingforgold and Ourmanmassini to be named leading pointer for the season, has been another by-line which has gripped fans of the pointing circuit. 15 wins between the pair for the season has been remarkable and is another title that goes right down to the wire.
As mentioned before sales for point-to-point recruits has taken a significant rise this season and has almost certainly been brought to a wider racing audience by the huge sale of the afore-mentioned Flemenshill earlier in the term. All of this bodes well for the future of the pointing circuit and here is hoping for the continued growth of our sport.