Champions lead British team for the Anglo-Irish International Point-to-Point Riders’ Challenge

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Great Britain are out to defend their crown in the fourth running of Anglo-Irish International Point-to-Point Challenge.Reigning champions Will Biddick and Gina Andrews head the British teams, which will take on their Irish rivals at Inch Point-to-Point, held near Tallow in County Cork, during the Easter holidays on March 23rd. Four men and four women from each country will go head to head in a series of races during the day.

The teams were selected based on their positions in last seasons championships owing to the early staging of this years renewal.  Joining Will Biddick on the GB mens team will be John Mathias, Darren Edwards and Nick Orpwood. The GB womens team, supported by AGA, is unchanged from last years winning quartet: Gina Andrews, Hannah Watson, Claire Hart and Catherine Walton.

Britain has won the Anglo-Irish challenge each year since its inception, beating Ireland by 21 points to 17 when the event was held last May at Chaddesley Corbett in Worcestershire.

Britains team details:

    Will Biddick – 30, is chasing his fifth consecutive mens championship and is currently leading the way

    John Mathias – 24, runner-up in last seasons championship, former national novice title-holder and multiple Welsh champion

    Darren Edwards – 31, currently second in this seasons national championship and the reigning champion in Devon & Cornwall

    Nick Orpwood – 27, Northern champion

    Gina Andrews – 23, double national womens champion

    Hannah Watson – 29, runner-up in last seasons womens championship

    Claire Hart – 32, currently leading the 2015/16 national womens title race and reigning South Midlands champion

    Catherine Walton – 28, Northern area champion

Irish Team Unveiled for Next Month’s International PtP

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The countdown continues to the fourth ever staging of the International Point-to-Point which features the British versus Irish Jockeys Challenge as its centrepiece, which is now little over a month away, and the preparations for the event, which takes place at Inch on Wednesday 23rd March, now step-up a gear with the announcement of the riders who will form the two Irish Teams.

On the Mens side, Derek OConnor, Jamie Codd, Barry ONeill and Rob James will step forward to represent their country at Inch next month. OConnor, the eleven-time Irish Champion, was the first rider to win a UK Point-to-Point race whilst holding an Irish License when scoring at last years challenge in Chaddesley Corbett which sealed victory for the Irish Mens team who will be looking to retain that crown 12 months later. OConnor, who currently heads the Leading Riders table once again this season, is looking forward to the defence of their title in Inch, The jockeys challenge has created a great atmosphere at the participating meetings over the past number of years and the atmosphere is always great in Inch, so it should draw a big crowd for what is always a well-supported fixture. He is joined on the Irish team by Jamie Codd, the 2013/2014 National Champion, who will make his third appearance in the Challenge having missed the inaugural contest through injury, although he has yet to taste success in the series to date, It will be great to bring the challenge to Cork and Im hoping that the change in venue might help change my luck in it so far!

Meanwhile Barry ONeill, who currently sits in second position in the Irish National Championship, is the only rider on the Irish team to have participated in all previous challenge races to date since its in inception in 2013. It will be great to welcome the British team over to one of our most popular meetings of the year and hopefully I can make it fourth time lucky. That trio are joined on the Irish team by Rob James, who will make his debut in the challenge competition next month. The Wexford rider has enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks since being crowned leading Novice rider at the end of the 2013/2014 season, and currently sits on the 15 winner mark for the campaign. I was delighted to get the call-up to have the opportunity to represent Ireland as is not something we get to do often in this sport, so I am really looking forward to it. The four riders selected were the top four riders in the National table on Monday 15th February 2016.

The Irish Ladies team features an experienced team of four riders who have all previously been a part of the Challenge contest, withLiz Lalor, Maxine OSullivan, Evanna McCutcheon and Sheila Ahern forming the four-strong line-up. Lalor is the reigning Ladies Champion and once again heads the table this season as she goes in search of a fifth Ladies title, having enjoyed plenty of recent success aboard her fathers star mare Carrigeen Acebo and she is raring to go with this years event. We havent managed to get the win on the board for the Irish Ladies team so far, but hopefully now with home advantage and the big local crowd behind us, we might be able repeat the efforts of Dereks win last year.

Lalor is joined on the team by Maxine OSullivan, a two-time Ladies Champion who visited the winners enclosure last weekend at Cragmore, and Tipperary-based Evanna McCutcheon who is a regular in the Cross Country races between the flags where she has enjoyed particular success aboard the likes of Long Strand and the late Lord Nellorie. Recently she has become synonymous with her handling of the star sprinter Maarek whom she trained to win the Listed Beverly Bullet Spring Stakes in late August before narrowly missing out on the Group 2 Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh a month later. The final member of the Ladies team is Sheila Ahern who has enjoyed great International success this season following her recent exploits in the Fegentri series, whilst she also enjoyed a strong start to the current Point-to-Point campaign, recording a brace of victories in the autumn which sees her currently sit in second position in the Ladies title.

The Ladies team was chosen on the total number of career Point-to-Point winners as of Monday 15th February 2016, as had been the case previously.

The system of allocating riders is well established. The entries will be numbered on the race card with the top eight declared runners going into a draw and being allocated to the International teams. Any other runners in the race will have to secure their own rider. Owners and Handlers at Fairyhouse and Chaddesley Corbett in previous years have been generous in their support of this concept and the Inch Committee are hoping that the Cork Waterford connections will show the same level of support to these races which are the 6yo+ Geldings Maiden and 6yo + Mares Maiden.

Inch Point-to-Point PRO Louise Kelly added, Now that both teams have been selected and with just 4 weeks to go until our race meeting, the excitement is really starting to build right across the community down here in Inch, Co Cork. We are delighted to have the best amateur jockeys from both Ireland and the UK coming to our race track to compete in this years running of the International Jockey Challenge. We are a small point to point committee from East Cork with a reputation for producing winners that end up doing extremely well on the big stage and the combination of both good horses and the best amateur jockeys around is sure to make for a thrilling day.

For travel information please visit the P2P.ie website at: http://www.p2p.ie/news.php?news_id=15288