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Report | Kirkistown 23rd November 2019

Barry O’Neill was unable to defend his 2018 northern title when Jamie Codd claimed that title by a margin or three winners in May, however the Wexford native has made a flying start to the season in that region, with a treble at Kirkistown on Saturday, leaving him at the head of the title heading into the Christmas break in the region.

His principal supporter, Colin Bowe, got him off the mark at the Co. Down venue when Askinvillar posted an impressive front-running performance in division two of the Dennison Commercials four-year-old maiden.

The son of Jeremy, who is closely related to Ted Walsh’s Southern Vic, improved upon his Loughanmore debut last month, to account for Brian Hamilton’s newcomer Keep ‘Em Lit by six lengths.

O’Neill’s other big supporter, David Christie, supplied the final two legs of his Kirkistown treble, with the handler’s own colours carried to success by On The Sod in the Wilsons Auctions winner-of-one.

The seven-year-old only prevailed by a head when getting off the mark in an adjacent maiden at Dromahane last Christmas when with Con McSweeney, and it was an even tighter winning margin as he remained unbeaten on his first start for Christie’s Fermanagh yard, having held off Caroline McCaldin’s Samurai Cracker by a short-head.

It was another newcomer to the Christie yard that completed the O’Neill hat-trick, as Dylrow, successful on three occasions under rules for Robbie Hennessy, made his first outing for Christie a winning one in the Knotts Bakery open.

The nine-year-old was a fifth winner of the season in the colours of bookmaker Ray Nicholas, after he got the better of recent Kinsale winner, Mighty Stowaway, by four lengths.

“I’ve only had him about two months, but he loves that tough ground. He just gallops and stays. He jumped well today and Barry thought he would come on a lot from that. We should be able to have a bit of fun with him,” said Fermanagh-based Christie.

It is Noel McParlan that trails O’Neill in the region and he enjoyed success of his own with a double which began with the success of Gallyhill, in what was a one-two for race sponsor Wilson Dennison in division one of the Dennison Commercials four-year-old maiden.

The two and a half-length victory for the son of Getaway was all the more notable as it provided former amateur rider Jamie Sloan with his first success as a handler, with his very first runner.

“That’s a great start. We were thinking of running this lad in the spring but he was a bit weak. We gave him a good summer to mature and it had paid dividends. I was quietly confident coming here today and it all went to plan. I would imagine he will be sold now,” said the winning handler.

McParlan doubled up when combining with Liam Lennon’s Lowtown Boy to win a dramatic Dunlop Homes five-year-old geldings’ maiden.

The Hayley Haughey-owned bay had finished placed at the same venue in March when beaten by 35 lengths, and he stepped up from two consecutive non-completions to defeat Moira runner-up Big Leg Up by two and a half lengths.

“He had a few runs last year when my horses weren’t right, but he is a big horse and he just needed a good summer break. We will probably sell him now,” said Lennon.

There will be few more deserving winners this season than Double Smart as she ran out a six-length winner of the Strangford Arms Hotel mares’ maiden.

The Paddy Turley-trained seven-year-old had appeared to have victory within in her grasp at Damma House at the beginning of the month, only for a loose horse to intervene and bring her down at the final fence.

There were no such issues on this occasion, as with Declan Lavery in the saddle, she proved too good for Killimorrie and will now be aimed at a winner-of-one.

Trimmers Lane had failed to make an impact under rules, however his first outing for the Jim Dreaper yard saw him defeat Danjaman in the BRG Autohub older geldings’ maiden.

Sporting the colours of Leon Tormey for the first time, the nine-year-old son of Publisher will now join new connections in England following this two-length success in the hands of Jamie Codd.


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