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O'Connor takes Southern and Western Title

O'Connor takes Southern and Western Title

(Derek O'Connor accepting his award from Niamh Doyle, HRI)

HRI SOUTHERN – Derek O’Connor

The Southern region is the largest region with 38 meetings, with the first meeting taking place on the 28th October at Lisronagh with three meetings being cancelled at Kilfeacle, Ballyvodock and Ballyarthur.

Since 2004 Derek O’Connor has won the southern title nine times.

The 2017 joint winners, Jamie Codd and Rob James, who had 24 winners each last season, finished up with seven and 13 winners in the southern region.

The lead in the Southern region remained tight throughout the autumn with Johnny Barry going in front after the final weekend of the autumn season with four winners.

The first week of the Spring season saw Derek join Johnny before going in front until the third week in February where he was joined by James Hannon where the pair both had seven winners.

James went in front for the following week before being caught again by Derek and Eoin O’Brien who shared the lead with eight winners a piece.

Derek had a double at Ballynoe and took up the lead once again. He then remained in front for the rest of the season and finished up with 25 winners. Johnny Barry his nearest rival finished up with 19 winners after he had a treble at Tralee on the penultimate weekend.

Derek rode winners in the south for nine different handlers with his best support coming from Pat Doyle with seven winners, Robert Tyner six winners, Sam Curling & Pauric O’Connor two winners.

Johnny Barry rode his 100th winner at Ballynoe aboard Mac’s Legend.

HRI WESTERN – Derek O’Connor

The Western region is the smallest region with 11 fixtures each season.

Derek O’Connor has dominated this award for the past ten years and was again the run-away winner with 12 winners, 6 winners clear of Johnny Barry.

Of the 11 Western meetings, Derek rode winners at six of them for eight different handlers.

Derek established a clear lead in the region following his treble at Rathcannon in October and remained in front for the rest season.

The rescheduled meeting at Moig South saw O’Connor register another treble with one of his winners that day coming from the current leading point-to-pointer this season, Sydney Paget, who Derek also won on at Cragmore and Ballysteen.

O’Connor finished seventh on Balnalsow in Cheltenham Foxhunters and the Galway native then enjoyed his first success over the Grand National fences when the pair won this year’s Aintree Foxhunters by two and a half lengths.

Derek reached another milestone in his career as he won his first Grade 1 abroad the Joseph O'Brien-trained Edwulf in the Irish Gold Cup and then rode the former Dromahane runner-up to finish eight in the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following month.

Derek rode his first point-to-point winner on Rossy Orchestra at Killaloe in 2000 and has since ridden 1,183 point-to-point winners.

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