JAMES Hannon reached a major milestone last weekend when he partnered his 100th career winner between the flags.
The Cork-Waterford point-to-point jockey completed the feat, at Dromahane, when guiding Ian Power’s Rock On Rita to victory, in the four-year-old mares’ maiden. It was an across-the-weekend double for the amateur jockey, who steered Power’s Gordyny to land the four-year-old mares’ maiden, at Lisronagh, 24 hours’ earlier.
A veteran on the local circuit, having competed for over 20 years now, Hannon is enjoying a solid start to the current campaign. He sits on four winners already, having also guided Joseph Ryan’s Yes Governor and Harry Kelly’s As High Say to their respective victories, at Dromahane, last month.
Hannon, who recorded his first winner with Farasani at Ballindenisk in 2003, hails from the Cork-Waterford border. His family own and run the Old Road Stud, at Glenaglough, Waterford. The stud has housed established stallions such as Ballinger, Sheer Grit and Witness Box, over the years.
It is currently home to the Grand National-winning sire, Cloudings, and the former St Leger winner, Arctic Cosmos. Hannon himself runs a breeding and pre-training facility at his current base, in Curraheen, near Tallow.
His most-successful season arrived in 2017-'18 when he booted home 14 point-to-point winners for the campaign. On the racecourse, he completed a first double under rules, at Downpatrick, in 2018. He made all aboard Turbo to take the bumper that day and brought Gerard Kelleher’s Macs Legend home in front to win the hunters’ chase. The local stalwart is currently one of the most-senior riders in the weigh-tent and is now competing in his 22nd point-to-point season.
Elsewhere, Terence O’Brien is off the mark for the new jumps campaign. The Carrigtwohill handler saddled Anglers Crag to win the concluding point-to-point bumper, at Fairyhouse, on Tuesday.
A five-year-old son of Multliplex, the 6/4 favourite stayed on stoutly, under Araglen’s Darragh Allen, to win by six lengths. Anglers Crag was making it two career wins from two starts, as he won his point-to-point for O’Brien, at Ballindenisk, back in January.
It was a good day for the Cork contingent at Fairyhouse – a meeting which was initially scheduled for Mallow over Easter before it was abandoned – as Michael Winters and Chris O’Donovan combined to land a double on the day. The Kanturk trainer and Mallow jockey won the opening mares’ hunter chase, with Rose Milan, at odds of 7/2.
The duo completed their double at the Meath track when Sayce Gold (2/1), a winner at Boulta in 2019, made all to score impressively, in the mares’ point-to-point bumper.
The awards for the shortened 2019-20 point-to-point season were presented at the Fairyhouse meeting. Lombardstown’s Maxine O’Sullivan shared the Champion Lady Rider accolade with Liz Lalor and Moira McElligott. It Came To Pass, winner of the Foxhunters’ at the Cheltenham Festival for O’Sullivan and her father, Eugene, was crowned Horse Of The Year, for his memorable triumph.
Bred by Cork’s Edmond Coleman, the 10-year-old gelding finished fourth on what was his seasonal reappearance at the track, on Tuesday, in the two miles and seven hunters’ chase on the card. Flemensfirth, a stallion standing at The Beeches Stud in Tallow, was recognised as the Leading Sire for last season, having been represented by 20 winners between the flags.
Meanwhile, the point-to-point fixtures for the upcoming spring campaign have been announced. 79 meetings are scheduled to take place from the middle of next month, to the end of the season, in late May. Cork’s Dromahane track will open the spring fixture list, at the earlier date of December 20.
The first local fixture of 2021 is scheduled for January 3, with the United Hunt meeting at Lisgoold. Also on the Cork-Waterford circuit, Lismore’s fixture has been moved to a Saturday and is set for March 6. Kinsale will hold its traditional, bumper two-day meeting on the concluding weekend of May 29 and 30.
There is just one blank weekend in this 2020/21 campaign between the flags. The next local fixture of the current season takes place at Boulta, with the West Waterford Foxhounds holding a meeting on Sunday, November 22.