BARRY O’Neill’s quest for a seventh straight riders’ title shows no signs of abating as he booted home a treble on home turf at a bright and sunny Ballycrystal to put him on the 35-winner mark for the season.

The regaining champion lives local to the course, and he delighted a decent-sized crowd with an opening race winner in the four-year-old maiden aboard the exciting Ben Solo (1/1 - 4/5 favourite).

In the familiar black and green of owners Milestone Bloodstock Ltd, O’Neill sent the Colin Bowe-handled youngster to the front from flag fall.

He jumped impeccably throughout and had matters well in control when his nearest challenger Kandor pecked badly after jumping the third-last. From here it was only a matter of what the winning distance would be as he coasted home from his five rivals.

Kandor, to his credit, tried to get going again but could make no impression on Ben Solo and finished four lengths adrift.

“He had loads left and I couldn’t get him pulled up until the top of the hill,” reported O’Neill.

The same combination were back in the winner’s enclosure with another debutant as Brechin Castle (1/1 – 4/5 favourite) didn’t disappoint the home crowd in the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.

Just eight runners went to post in a contest run at a good gallop from the off. The good-looking Shantou gelding travelled and jumped sweetly throughout the contest before looking green in the closing stages as Noble Blue and Joey Dunne made him battle hard to line to score by a length.

“We only got him as an unbroken four-year-old,” Bowe said. “He has a great attitude with loads of improvement in him and he has a big future. He will head to the sales now.”

By Shantou, he is out of the winning Old Vic mare Glorious Twelfth and a brother to the blacktype performer Wynn House.

Long trek

Shane Donohoe made the long trek from Cootehill, Co. Cavan worthwhile as he watched his charge Extrapolation (2/1 - 9/4 favourite) cruise to victory in the concluding older maiden.

Completing the final leg of O’Neill’s treble, the grey Mahler gelding had finished a good third at Tyrella on his last start and he never gave favourite backers a moment’s doubt as he cruised to a very easy five-length success over Turnthelightsoff.

Wearing the colours of his trainer, he travelled supremely throughout and posted a visually impressive performance as he broke his maiden tag at the eighth attempt.

A delighted Donohoe quipped: “Barry [O’Neill] said he couldn’t believe he was a maiden, how did it take him so long to win.

“I didn’t help him by doing a couple of stupid things along the way, but he is a decent horse. He is for sale.”

Focus on Point for Hydes

THE winners of one saw recent wide-margin Ballyvodock winner Focus Point (6/4) run out a very comfortable winner under his teenage pilot Daniel Hyde.

Making all the running at a strong tempo, he jumped brilliantly throughout as the Robin Des Champs gelding saw his five rivals drop away one by one to score by an eased down 11 lengths from a gallant Tara Cove as just the two horses finished.

The Tim Hyde-trained gelding, sporting the famous yellow and black sash of Mrs Trish Hyde, was giving young Daniel his second points win in a real family affair.

“He jumped great, it was very straightforward. He will stay pointing and head to a winners-of-two now,” reported the young rider.

The five and six-year-old mares’ maiden had just the eight runners as small fields were a feature of the card, but it produced a winner in Merry Melody (5/1) who is now bound for the Gain Mares’ Final in Ballynoe next month.

The six-year-old Beat Hollow mare carries the colours of the Three Dudes Syndicate and was given a fine ride by Eoin Mahon. Never far off the pace, she quickened clear before the last to beat newcomer Rhiannon Ring by a length to give her handler Paurick O’Connor his third success of the season.

“She is homebred by Leonard McMahon from Newmarket-on-Fergus and it’s great for him,” O’Connor said. “She is from a good family in Merry People and Merry Masquerade and is a nice mare who jumps and stays. She is also a half-sister to Sliabh Mhuire Lass who won six for us.”

The mares’ open saw just the four runners but between them they had a total of 14 point victories to their names.

Local mare The Forge Hill (3/1 - 5/2) accounted for half of that total and, back between the flags for the first time this year, she once again showed her liking for the Blackstairs venue.

A winner at this venue in October 2020, the Morozov mare led before the last under new partner Ross Sugrue and stayed on strongly from Aghmorough Bridge to win by a length and a half.

The Monbeg Partnership-owned mare was supplying Sugrue with his second career success, while handler Sean Doyle moved on to 10 winners for the season with this eighth career success for The Forge Hill.

Doyle, who was completing an across the card double after a winner at Nenagh earlier in the day, paid tribute to the mare as he stated: “She is great to have around. The ground dried up right in time for her. She will run away in mares’ open races.

“That is her eighth points win, and it takes some doing. It’s great for Jay Tobin [part owner] as he bred her.”

Horse to Follow

Noble Blue: (D. P. Murphy): This son of Brave Mansonnien, from the family of Cheltenham Festival winner Noble Prince, was a game second in a very decent looking five-year-old maiden. He made the smart looking winner Brechin Castle work hard in the closing stages and looks a sure-fire maiden winner in the coming weeks.