Point-to-point history was made in a field in Co. Limerick yesterday (Sunday 15 February) when Irish jockey Derek O’Connor became the first rider from either side of the Irish Sea to notch 1,000 winners.
Derek, the multiple Irish point-to-point champion, reached the phenomenal figure when guiding Death Duty to victory in the first race at the Co. Limerick point-to-point at Cragmore — winning by 15 lengths.
The winner ran in the ownership of Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud, whose racing manager Eddie O’Leary said: “Derek is a legend in his own game and I’m thrilled we were able to give him his 1,000th winner. Derek’s now only got 3,300 odd more to go! [to catch AP McCoy].”
The 32-year-old jockey went on to complete a treble in the following two races, gaining the third win on Air Command, a debutant representing the connections of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere — trainer Jim Culloty and owner Dr Ronan Lambe.
Derek rode a double at the Cheltenham Festival in 2011. The first was Zemsky in the Christie’s Foxhunter — which he won by 17 lengths. He then partnered Chicago Grey — trained by Gordon Elliott — to victory in the National Hunt Chase (pictured).
Derek was unveiled last week as a new Irish agent for Doncaster Bloodstock Sales.
He rode his first point-to-point winner in February 2000 on Rossy Orchestra in a mares’ maiden at Killaloe.
Derek, who hails from Co. Galway, reached 999 when riding Muirhead at Kirkistown in Northern Ireland on Saturday (14 February).
Derek added: “I’m thrilled to reach the milestone. People have been so kind. There’s been an unbelievable amount of well-wishers.”
The British record of 414 winners in point-to-points is held by Richard Burton.