By Dan Walsh
Barry O’Neill’s long journey home to Kiltealy was pleasant this evening after the champion rider recorded a double at Kirkistown, in North Down, earlier in the afternoon bringing his seasonal tally to nineteen.
First success for O’Neill came on Campaign Town for the Colin Bowe stable in the maiden race for four-year-olds by three lengths beating Bare Meadows handled by Donnchadh Doyle and ridden by Rob James.
O’Neill was in the winners’ circle again following the Winner of One race and a five lengths victory for the Gordon Elliott trained The Creadan Rogue.
Following a brace of ‘seconds’ Rob James finally got his head in front to win the Open Race on Some Man for David Christie by a comfortable dozen lengths.
The 2021 Horse Racing Ireland Awards will be presented in early December. There are forty nominations in total, four are in the point-to-point category and two of them – Colin Bowe and Barry O’Neill – are Wexfordians.
For the ninth time in his career, Colin Bowe, was crowned champion handler at the end of the 2020-‘21 season in late May.
Despite a curtailed campaign with the absence of point-to-pointing from January to the beginning of April, Bowe still enjoyed one of his best seasons to date as he sent out 44 winners and further 59 placed finishers from a total of 216 runners. That was just one winner shy of his previous best highlighting his dominance.
Barry O’Neill displayed brilliant consistency as a rider during the 2020/21 season, winning the champion rider’s title for a fifth year in succession courtesy of 54 winners, almost three times the number of any other rider.
Perhaps most notably, the Wexford native created history when he became the first rider to pick up all four of the regional titles in the same season, a feat which had not previously been achieved in the near 40 years since those titles were created.