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AUTUMN 2017: A look back at the pre-Christmas campaign

AUTUMN 2017: A look back at the pre-Christmas campaign

The 2017/18 season was due to begin at the Mid Antrim’s meeting at Toomebridge but was later cancelled resulting in Castletown-Geoghegan staging the opening meeting on the 8th October.

The Co. Westmeath fixture saw an exceptionally high runners to entries percentage with 61 of the 77 entries declared to run on the day.

Champion handler Colin Bowe continued the successful partnership with last season’s champion rider Barry O’Neill, when the pair teamed up to win the opening race of the new term with Napolean Blue in the four-year-old maiden and their good run of form continued right through the pre-Christmas campaign.

It was an exciting day for the next generation of riders as three of the six races on the day went to Novice riders - Adam Feeney, Michael O’Sullivan and Ben Love.

The Northern season kicked off the following weekend at Loughanmore which held the highest percentage of finishers to runners for the autumn season with 32 of the 41 runners completing on the day.

Other meetings that were unable to hold their fixtures during the autumn were Rockfield, Grennan, Corbeagh House and Tattersalls.

Both the Golden Vale Foxhounds and the Suirvale Harriers staged their meetings at new tracks while the Wicklow Hunt marked their return to the point-to-point calendar for the first time since 1997 when they held a fixture at Tinahely on 5th November.

Season stats

Of the 1996 entries made, 1231 horses lined-up from October until December while so far this year there has been 1337 hunter certs issued which is 64 less than last year.

The average entry for this season so far has been 87 which is on par with last season’s autumn fixtures. 94 individual handlers trained winners since October while 62 individual riders have ridden winners so far this season which includes eight riders having enjoyed their first winners.

Highs

Horse Racing Ireland’s budget for 2018 saw a further boost to prize money levels for point-to-points with prize money to increase by €161,000 in 2018 which is reported to be a rise of 23%. Horse Racing Ireland also stated that the administration grants for point-to-points would be maintained at the increased level of €6,500 per fixture in 2018, having previously totalled €4,500 per fixture.

Irish point-to-point graduates also enjoyed a profitable autumn season on the track with 478 former pointers winning since October which is an increase of 49 on last year. Six have claimed Grade 1 honours while a further 37 have won Graded races in recent weeks.

Lows

We lost some great followers of the sport since the beginning of the season including William Billy Patton, Alan & Ann Potts, Peggy Hagan and Robert McCoubrey.

Unfortunately we have also lost some popular horses over the past few months including the promising stars Flemenshill and Neon Wolf as well as the consistent servant Need To Know who won nine point-to-points for the Brennan family as well as enjoying success at the Punchestown festival and also in France last May when he won a cross country chase in Le Lion-D'Angers.

 

With 82 meetings scheduled to take place from January until June, we have a lot to look forward to over the coming months.
 


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