19th September - Ballingarry
The Ormond Foxhounds opened the season under the INHSC Covid protocols and following a six-month absence of racing between the flags, it was a busy start with eight races staged including a double for Wicklow rider James Walsh which included the success of High Stakes.
The Scorpion gelding made a winning debut in the concluding older maiden with a seven-length defeat of Corach Rambler in the colours of the winning rider’s father and the horse would go on to become the first horse to progress from winning a maiden the champion point-to-point title holder in the same season.
Elsewhere, Barry O’Neill began his latest title defence in fine style with a four-timer including victory in the open aboard Marinero.
20th September – Oldcastle
A double on the card for Shane Fitzgerald and Mick Goff saw the pair record their respective 50th winner in point-to-points following the successes of Leac An Scail Lady and American Legacy at the Ballymacad fixture.
Dento Des Obeaux provided 21-year-old Jay Gibney with the first success of his career both as a rider and handler when he returned successful in 16-strong novice rider’s winner-of-one race, whilst Richie Deegan won the five-year-old geldings’ maiden on Rockstar Ronnie which would be his final success between the flags as he turned conditional later in the season.
26th September – Necarne
High Stakes and Er Dancer were both among the winners on this rare autumn fixture at the Fermanagh venue, with the former quickly following up his maiden success from Ballingarry some seven days earlier. The pair would ultimately decide the outcome of the champion point-to-point horse title between them.
For Er Dancer, his success provided Ross Foley, who was based with handler Donnchadh Doyle, with his first success.
27th September – Monksgrange
Harley Dunne, a former Under-21 champion rider, sent out his first winner as a handler when Paloma Dove in the four-year-old mares’ maiden. The Wexford native had set up his own training establishment operating out of Lar Byrne’s yard at Rathurtin, Clonroche.
Dunne had previously been based with Liam Kenny for the previous two years where he was training a number of his own horses alongside him.
3rd October – Toomebridge
It proved to be a successful afternoon for the raiding Wexford contingent who left the Co. Antrim venue with four of the day’s prizes to ensure a 700km round trip was more than worthwhile, with the victory of Colin Bowe’s Branson Missouri proving to be most dramatic as Rocked Up has crossed the line in front.
She was however later disqualified after it was deemed that rider Michael Sweeney had taken the wrong course on the run to the back straight, an error that his rivals had spotted at an early stage.
Duty Calls struck a blow for local connections when he ran out a popular victor of the winners race with handler Rodney Arthur and his wife Diane also acting as starter and fence steward respectively on the afternoon.
4th October – Castletown-Geoghegan
Despite some challenging weather conditions, the Westmeath Foxhounds fixture played host to one of it’s busiest in close to ten years with 85 runners in all at the meeting which was particularly notable for Barry O’Neill as a treble saw him secure his 600th winner between the flags.
Paul Nolan’s Fire Love was the horse responsible for his milestone success in the mares’ maiden having also enjoyed success aboard Grady Hollow and Handy Headon.
10th October – Moira
The veteran performer Mount Colah rolled back the years as he defeated Ballingarry winner Marinero in the open.
Now trained by Sean McParlan and ridden to success by his son Noel who had been associated with the 13-year-old right throughout his career was gifted the horse by his former owner Thomas Walsh when he was diagnosed with cancer.
Cork handler Paul Cashman made a rare trip north of the border worthwhile when his Call Me Merry won the mares’ maiden in the hands of former Under-21 rider Michael O’Sullivan.
11th October – Loughrea
Doubles for Rob James and James Kenny proved crucial as the Covid-19 interruption that followed later in the spring ensured it was a particularly brief western season and ultimately saw them share that regional riding title with Barry O’Neill.
For another winning rider Thomas Geoghegan he was left smiling when a dog left its mark on his saddle which has been left on the ground beside his car before he went on to win the older geldings’ maiden on Subset, a horse that he also trained.
11th October – Dromahane
The Mallow venue played host to the first Cork & Waterford fixture of the season where Colin Bowe enjoyed a double to contribute to what had seemed to be a Barry O’Neill treble, however the mares’ maiden on the card proved to be a controversial outcome that was referred to a subsequent IHRB hearing.
An early incident which left Richie Deegan being attended to on the course for a broken leg, led to confusion as the first fence in the home straight was by passed with runners going either side of the fence.
Barry O’Neill on the winner, Robert Tyner’s Dangan Des Champs, was adjudicated to have taken the wrong course, with the original third being awarded the race.
17th October – Portrush
Colin and Graham McKeever replicated the exploits on the flat of the O’Brien family as the father and son both saddled winners on the card.
McKeever Senior sent out Gortmillish to win the opening four-year-old maiden in the colours of Gortmillish as they briefly reunited with their long-timer rider Derek O’Connor who was deputising for stable jockey Stephen Connor who had picked up a shoulder injury in a schooling fall earlier that week. Brayhill, who was originally trained by Colin, provided his son Graham with his first winner of the season in the five-year-old equivalent.
18th October – Tinahely
Barry O’Neill won four races at the fixture which ten years earlier Jamie Codd had won all six races. The successes also included the impressive victory of Mighty Stowaway who beat subsequent Cheltenham Festival winner Rewritetherules by a distance.
Philip Reynolds’ ten-year-old would finish sixth and tenth respectively at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals later that spring.
18th October – Umma House
The South Westmeath Hunt unveiled a new course at Umma House, just 15km from their long-standing home at The Pigeons and the left-handed course was warmly welcomed by riders and handlers alike.
Gordon Elliott, who had ridden his first pointing winner at the South Westmeath’s fixture in 1995 was the man to follow as he was in attendance to saddle a hat-trick on the card including first successes in the sphere for riders Cian Chester and Aubrey McMahon.
24th October – Ballycrystal
Sean Doyle’s The Forge Hill put her recent race fitness to good use by winning her second race of the season in the campaign’s first mares open, lowering the colours of Longhouse Music and Sliabh Mhuire Lass in the process. The success would prove to be a final win in the pointing fields for rising star Jordan Gainford as he would elect to join the professional ranks when the spring campaign was stopped for the Covid-19 pandemic.
Six of the seven races on the card were won by locally trained horses – Pat Doyle being the only ‘outsider’ to break their stranglehold on the card when his daughter Susie steered Flamenco De Kerser to win the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.
24th October – Loughanmore
Wexford rider Tiernan Power rode out his claim when he teamed up with Cormac Doyle’s Undersupervision to land a division of the four-year-old maiden, to complete an across the card double for Doyle’s yard.
The opening race saw the Ellen Doyle-trained The Mean Queen make a winning debut sporting some notable silks, those of Rodman Moorhead, a leading owner in American Steeplechasing. The daughter of Doyen would later head stateside to join trainer Keri Brion, and within ten months of that opening success enjoyed Grade 1 glory at Saratoga.
25th October – Dromahane
First Touch provided former rider turned handler David Murphy with his first success since moving to a new base in Glengoura when winning the older maiden in the hands of Shane Baragry who also turned 22 on the afternoon.
25th October – Tattersalls
The Covid-19 restrictions which prevented spectators from attending fixtures during the 2020/21 season resulted in the Meath & Tara committee electing to switch their ultra-popular autumn meeting from Dowth Hall to Tattersalls.
The opening four-year-old maiden saw Gordon Elliott’s Ginto tear apart his opposition on debut and 12 days later the son of Walk In The Park was sold for €470,000 in the sales ring adjoining the course.
31st October – Curraghmore
Donnchadh Doyle introduced Gentlemansgame to make a winning debut and the grey enjoyed a rapid ride through the ranks which would see him finish second in a Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival just three months later.
1st November – Damma House
Twenty-one-year-old Jordan Hart not only rode his first winner, but also sent out his first winner as a handler when Nothinbuttime won the mares’ maiden at the rain-soaked Kilkenny venue.
High Stakes became the first horse of the season to record a third success when he regained the winning grove, just eight days after suffering the first defeat of his career at Loughanmore.
1st November – Rathcannon
A minutes silence was held prior to the first race in remembrance of the late John McNamara who passed away last year. McNamara played a big role on the Bruff point-to-point committee where he was chairman for a number of years. He was remembered on Sunday afternoon for all his tremendous work with the committee over the years.
Brian Dunleavy recorded his first winner of the season when Jimmy Mangan’s Monty’s Meadow landed the open. The Cork native would go on to enjoy his most successful season to date by partnering a further three winners.
7th November – Lisronagh
The all-time winning rider Derek O’Connor further increased his tally between the flags when bringing his career total in the sphere to 1,250 winners courtesy of a treble on a card which saw the Tipperary Foxhounds unveil a track extension to their venue which was very well received resulting in 90 runners on the card.
Former conditional jockey Liam Gilligan recorded his first pointing winner back as a Qualified Rider when he teamed up with Patrick Doyle’s Lady Mangan to run out something of a surprise winner of the mares’ open. The Galway native would only miss out on the Under-21 rider’s title by just a solitary winner by the season’s end.
8th November – Dromahane
Jonbon, a brother of Douvan, caught all the headlines and garnered significant social media attention when he made a winning debut for Ellmarie Holden. The Walk In The Park gelding had cost €140,000 as a three-year-old and ultimately went on to be bought by JP McManus for a record sum of £570,000 after his 15-length success.
James Hannon reached his 100-winner milestone when Rock on Rita continued a purple patch for Ian Power in the four-year-old mares’ maiden, whilst at the opposite end of his career, 22-year-old David O’Brien rode his first winner with the success of Tom Keogh’s homebred Melanamix.
8th November – Knockmullen House
Their was also a first success in the saddle for Stefan Tobin when Prime Pretender won the five-year-old geldings’ maiden for Paul Cashman. The Tallow native was back riding on these shores having ventured across to America in the spring only for the Covid-19 pandemic to bring racing there to a stop.
14th November – Loughbrickland
All six races at the Co. Down fixture were won by horses trained in Northern Ireland including Ballyhawkish, who is owned and trained by Graham McKeever, to continue a good run for the Antrim handler.
15th November – Tinahely
Some Man continued his progression into a top-class open performer when swiftly following up a Curraghmore success two weeks earlier by getting the better of Kruzhlinin. The former champion point-to-point horse was appearing for the first time since June 2019 and would record an emotional success for his owner Camilla Sharples when returning to the winner’s enclosure at the age of 14 at Navan in the following March.
15th November – Turtulla
Pat Doyle introduced Grand Jury to make a winning debut in the Walter Connors colours. The pair have previously started of a number of future stars together and Grand Jury made his way to the Henry de Bromhead yard for his new owner Robcour.
21st November – Kirkistown
A close relation of Tammys Hill, the last Northern Irish-trained winner at the Cheltenham Festival, Kates Hill opened her account for Patrick Turley in the colours of her breeder Patrick Smyth. The success featured as part of a double for Declan Lavery.
On a similar family note, Peter Croke was responsible for winning maidens on the card with a pair of half-brothers – Carrig Sam and Carrig Rock. The latter won the four-year-old maiden, with his year older brother Carrig Sam taking the five-year-old maiden. Bred by Maurice Sheehy, both were partnered to success by Brian Lawless.
22nd November – Boulta
The colours of Willie Deacon, who is associated with the 1990’s top-level performer Garamycin, whom he trained, were carried to success by Call It Time in the winner-of-one. Trained by Willie’s son Daryl, who was the best man at the wedding of fellow handler Willie Murphy and Moira McElligott – the latter of whom guided Call It Time to success.
22nd November – Lingstown
The ever-popular banks course was certainly not lacking in drama, when the 14-year-old veteran Better B Quick, who had crossed the line in front, was disqualified after he was adjudged to have taken the wrong course under Sean Staples. The resulted in the race being awarded to previous course winner Vital Island.
Jamie Codd teamed up with Denis Murphy to enjoy a four-year-old double on the card with the subsequent £430,000 seller Grangeclare West and Viva Lavilla. The latter would prove to be Codd’s final winner at his home track as he announced his retirement the following May, with the Lingstown spring fixture not taking place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
29th November – Ballindenisk
Getawayrooney won her third straight race for the Bandon-based Jason O’Reilly when she got the better of the Kirkistown scorer Kates Hill in a top-class mares’ winners race.
Meanwhile, Mick Murphy unleased the mightily impressive Journey With Me to take a division of the four-year-old maiden on his debut. The Mahler gelding would follow up on his stable debut for Henry de Bromhead the following March when winning a point-to-point bumper at Gowran by 13 lengths.
29th November – Borris House
With no fewer than ten races taking place, the Carlow Farmers fixture was once again one of the busiest of the season, with Classic Getaway proving to be yet another big grossing autumn pointer when he was sold for £570,000 after winning for Donnchadh Doyle.
5th December – Kinsale
John Barry recorded a Kinsale double which included a popular success with Gerry Kelleher’s Macs Legend
6th December – Mainstown
The Ladies Open was the undoubted highlight of the card with Barry Connell’s Dom Dolo springing something of a surprise to provide 22-year-old Rachel Kelly from Kildare with her first success. The race once again featured as part of the ITM Ladies Series with fixture secretary Aileen Persse organising a number of prizes for the riders.
A rare dead-heat saw Current Mood and Thedancingfarrier share the spoils in the winner-of-two contest.
6th December – Tattersalls
Little of the action at Tattersalls was visible as fog covered the course throughout the seven-race card, although visibility was sufficient for racing to proceed. The famous ‘double green’ colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede recorded a rare four-year-old maiden victory when Gold Cup Bailly made a winning debut for brothers Stuart and Ben Crawford.
Tom Harney was another rider to make his breakthrough during the autumn, with his opening winner coming courtesy of Tom Shaw’s Keenaghan Lass in the older maiden, whilst Singing Banjo ended a long losing run to take the winners contest, almost five years after his maiden success. The Walsh families horse did not have to wait as long to follow up as he would go on to win twice at that spring’s Punchestown Festival – taking both the Ladies Cup and La Touche over the banks.
13th December – Boulta
Twenty-four hours after sending out Chatham Street Lad to win the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham’s December fixture, Michael Winters enjoyed further success as Barrowdale carried the Trevor Hemmings colours to land the winners-of-two race. The victory was a 50th between the flags for rider Chris O’Donovan.
13th December – Stradbally
Heavy overnight rain ensured testing conditions for the 91 runners at a rare winter fixture at the parkland course typically synonymous with quick ground in the spring. Conditions proved particularly challenging in both divisions of the four-year-old maiden, with just two horses finishing both races.
Mr Mantilla continued his winning run by recording his second open success within the space of a fortnight to uphold his remarkable strike rate for handler Vincent Devereux. It would be the eight-year-old’s final start for those connections, as he was then sold to David Jeffreys, for whom he finished a very creditable eighth in the Cheltenham Festival Hunter Chase on his first start under rules.
19th December – Moig South
The Stonehall Harriers had a second chance to run their autumn fixture at Moig South having had to cancel their intended earlier fixture and testing conditions produced small fields throughout the day with 19-year-old Conor Smithers recording his first success aboard Dubai Dandy for Edward Creighton in the novice riders race.
20th December – Dromahane
Taking place in Christmas week, this proved to be one of the latest finishes to an autumn campaign as Lite Duties regained the winning thread to take the open for James Hannon and Sam Curling.
Notably the fixture provided 19-year-old Pearse Rogan with the first success of his career when Fiston Du Mou took the five-year-old geldings’ maiden for Donnchadh Doyle. Remarkably, a further seven wins during the season would see him crowned Champion Under-21 rider.
10th April – Cork Racecourse
Government restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic saw point-to-point racing brought to a halt for the second consecutive season in early January, with no action until three fixtures of point-to-point bumpers were staged at Punchestown, Wexford and Tipperary racecourse throughout March.
The return of maiden races over point-to-point fences was agreed with Government officials for early April, however this was on the condition that they were staged on racecourses which resulted in Cork Racecourse in Mallow hosting the first of the them.
On the same day that his former point-to-point horse, Minella Times, won the Aintree Grand National, John Nallen sent out Minella Crooner to win a division of the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.
11th April – Tipperary Racecourse
Barry O’Neill and Colin Bowe completed a monopoly of the weekend’s four-year-old mares’ maidens as having combined with Jenny Flex at Cork 24 hours earlier, their pair enjoyed Tipperary success with North Of Nashville.
17th April – Fairyhouse Racecourse
The racecourse-only point-to-point fixtures solely for younger aged maidens continued at Fairyhouse with the home of the Irish Grand National hosting a two-day fixture.
Day one say Luke Murphy enjoy a double which kickstarted a notable spring for the Wexford rider and saw him once again come to the fore.
18th April – Fairyhouse Racecourse
Wexford connections dominated on day two winning all five races as quicker ground conditions resulted in just one race being divided.
Both Barry O’Neill and Jamie Codd emerged from it with doubles, whilst Liam Gilligan was the only other rider to get on the scoreboard on the afternoon.
24th April – Tipperary Racecourse
A second visit to Tipperary Racecourse proved particularly popular with 109 runners requiring nine races to meet the demand and it once again was Wexford connections that took charge.
That included victories for Pat O’Rourke, Donnchadh Doyle, Pierce Power, Mick Goff and Ellen Doyle. A double for Goff included a first pointing success for Joey Dunne aboard Daily Present. Dunne, who had made notable inroads on the track for Gavin Cromwell, teamed up with Goff following the decision of Goff’s principal rider Shane Fitzgerald to make the switch to the professional ranks owing to the Covid-19 interruption.
25th April – Fairyhouse Racecourse
It was a quieter afternoon in Fairyhouse with just 41 runners – 22 of whom were representing Wexford handlers – and it was once again that county which dominated the five-race card including a double for Jamie Codd.
Twenty-nine-year-old Ian Donoghue, a brother of NH jockey Keith, sent out his first winners as a handler when Optional Mix took the mares’ maiden for the Co. Meath-based former rider.
1st May – Lisronagh
The Tipperary Foxhounds fixture marked a belated return to a traditional pointing fixture for the first time since December 20 with Pearse Rogan enjoying his first double having only ridden his first winner at that December 20 fixture.
There was also a double on the card for local handler Harry Kelly as he twice teamed up with veteran rider James Hannon on the card.
2nd May – Dromahane
Pointing and Hunter Chase regular Ajijic returned to the winner’s enclosure for the first time in over three years when he took the winner-of-two contest under former southern champion Mikey O’Connor. The victory was a welcome triumph for Newcastle West handler Terence Leonard.
3rd May – Dawstown
Thirty-seven-year-old Peter Duffy rolled back the years when he took the open aboard Robin De Roost. The former publican was back riding a winner just over 20 years after his last success, whilst the victory was also a first for him as a handler.
8th May – Broughshane
Eight days after running a very creditable race to finish sixth to Bob And Co in the Punchestown Champion Hunter Chase, Poli Roi took the open race to complete a double for the Larne-based Crawford brothers. They had earlier won the five-year-old geldings’ maiden with Ree Okka in the well-known colours of Ben Halsall.
9th May – Dromahane
A second visit to Dromahane on consecutive Sunday’s was a final pointing fixture of the season at the Mallow venue and it saw a popular victory when Copper Nation took the four-year-old mares’ maiden. The debutant was not only owned and trained by Donal Coffey but also bred by the Carrigtwohill man.
Elsewhere, 22-year-old David Mulcahy rode his first career winner when Backoftheenvelope came home in front for former regional champion rider turned handler Ciaran Fennessy, whilst Chris O’Donovan was the only rider to secure a double at the meeting.
9th May – Tattersalls
This fixture will forever be remembered for the retirement of Jamie Codd, as the Wexford native called time on his career in the pointing fields following his 972nd winner when Supreme Gift won the four-year-old geldings’ maiden.
Fittingly the former champion was able to end his pointing career with a winner for his long-time supporter Denis Murphy and at Tattersalls where he works as an agent.
14th May – Necarne
Maxine O’Sullivan looked to move a step closer to yet another Ladies title with victory in the Ladies Open aboard Marinero for local handler David Christie, however her title rival Moira McElligott immediately fought back with a win of her own aboard her husband Willie Murphy’s Vinnies Nephue.
15th May – Necarne
David Christie continued his profitable run of success at his local course with a double on Saturday’s card. That featured his Winged Leader beating Ned Stark in a match race for the open lightweight, whilst the local Hunt race also went his way courtesy of Sholsang.
The finale saw William Tyndale put up a big performance in the older geldings’ maiden and that wide-margin victory for Noel Kelly’s charge would provide Portglenone-based Daniel Scullion with his opening success in the saddle.
16th May – Ballindenisk
The Cork-Waterford season came to a close at Ballindenisk with the 11-year-old Robin De Roost winning his second open race of the month when getting the better of champion pointer contender Er Dancer.
Shane Baragry also made the spotlight as he rode a double with the victories of Bolintea and Truckin With Paddy.
16th May – Stradbally
Young riders came to the fore at the Co. Laois venue with a first career double for Eadestown native Tom Harney, whilst 17-year-old Adam Ryan, a graduate of the pony racing circuit, teamed up with his uncle Andy Slattery to ride his first pointing winner aboard Dr Shirocco.
22nd May – Ballingarry
The two-day Ormond Foxhounds fixture traditionally brings down the curtain on the season however they elected to a slightly earlier date at their course which first hosted a point-to-point in 1976 and day one saw a first pointing double for Liam Gilligan followed by a notable success for Poli Roi as he got the better of a number of notable rivals to win his second open of the month.
22nd May – Punchestown
Having lost their traditional February fixture due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the point-to-point circuit made a rare late May visit to Punchestown on the same afternoon that the Irish 2,000 Guineas took place at the nearby Curragh Racecourse.
Nina Carberry, a former star of banks races at the venue, had different reasons to celebrate when she sent out her first point-to-point winner with the victory of Adventure Bay.
On the riding front, Minella On Line provided Alex Harvey, the younger brother of the reigning champion under-21 rider Ben, with the first success of his career, whilst Paul Power notched up his 70th victory between the flags on Sea Of Sands in the finale.
23rd May – Ballingarry
Fermanagh handler David Christie reached the notable milestone of his 300th winner in the pointing fields with the victory of Marinero in the Ladies Open.
Marie Harding’s Ballygrifincottage completed a hat-trick in the winner-of-two contest by winning his third race in the month of May.
23rd May – Tralee
Barry O’Neill reached winner number 50 of the depleted season with a four-timer at the Co. Kerry venue, the achievement being all the more notable as all four of his wins were recorded for his principal supporter Colin Bowe.
29th May – Kirkistown
Almost 15 years to the day of hosting it’s first pointing fixture, Kirkistown played host to the season’s penultimate fixture at the sun-soaked Co. Down venue which saw Barry O’Neill wrap up his third northern title with further success for Colin Bowe when Rathmacknee opened his account.
The card proved particularly key for Pearse Rogan in his bid to secure the Under-21 title, as he rode a double at the track with the victories of Galunggung and Creadan Grae. The latter beat Marinero in the open to end that horse’s hopes of becoming champion pointer.
30th May – Grennan
Mikey O’Connor reached a notable personal milestone when his 400th pointing winner came courtesy of Terence Leonard’s Lily Of Dromard in the mares’ maiden.
The season-ending fixture at the Co. Kilkenny course had promised to be a jam-packed one with a sizeable declaration across the card, however it was brought to an unfortunate early end when the decision was made to abandon the meeting after Eoin Mahon had to be airlifted to hospital following a fall which resulted in the Galway native suffering a number of fractures.