Potters Point and Lisa O Neill (yellow cap) leads Arkwrisht
©Healy Racing Photos
By Thomas Weekes
Amateur jockey Lisa O’Neill stole the show at Listowel today when winning the Guinness Kerry National Handicap Chase for a second consecutive year on a Gordon Elliott trained, Michael O’Leary (Gigginstown House Stud) owned gelding, as Potters Point held on for another famous victory in Kerry’s biggest race.
O’Neill came to prominence when winning last year’s renewal on Elliott’s Wrath Of Titans and was also successful in the Four Mile Chase at Cheltenham last March. Today the 29 year old showed further big race steel to steer Potters Point to a hard fought half length win over Arkwrisht, whose rider Andrew Ring was left without irons from the second last fence.
Elliott, whose horses won a wealth of big handicap chases last season including Wrath Of Titans’ Kerry win, later revealed “he was a novice and I was going to let Jack (Kennedy) ride him but I have to say Michael (O’Leary) has full faith in Lisa and wanted Lisa to ride the horse. It was his pick and he wanted her to ride it as she’s lucky and he’s right!”
“The pressure was on last year when we had plenty runners and plenty fancied ones but this year we were hopeful more than confident.”
The Grand National and Gold Cup winner added “I was very worried about the ground, whether he’d handle it but Lisa is plucky as hell and gave him a great ride. She probably got there a bit soon and she said it herself but in fairness to the horse he showed plenty guts and pulled it out after the last.“
“He had a wind operation before he won in Fairyhouse (in April) and it looks like it has made the difference to him; Kevin Sexton won a maiden hurdle on him last year and said he wouldn’t walk on soft ground and we got his throat done afterwards. I’m delighted, and It’s great for Lisa and the whole yard.
“They (O’Learys) are very good to us and it’s great to reward them with another big winner.”
Regarding future plans, Elliott added “looking at that you’d think he’d stay further and he’d also love a bit of nice ground. We’ll enjoy today before making plans but could be a National race in time.
“Lisa has done more over the two or three years than any girl has done; she is brilliant and a great bit of stuff.”