A BUSINESSMAN is living proof that life really does begin at 40, after he rode his own racehorse to victory in his first race since taking up the sport just a year ago.
London-based building contractor John Reddington (40), originally from Bohola, Co Mayo, won the Trim (Pro/Am) Flat Race at odds of 16/1 on 'Agent James' which was named after his friend, the jockey James Collins.
Even though the race in Navan last weekend was barely visible due to heavy fog, Mr Reddington said it was exhilarating, if not a bit daunting.
"In terms of nerves there's not a lot you can do, especially when you have lumps of muck as big as sods of turf flying at you and hitting you in the face," he said. "That doesn't be long waking you up."
Mr Reddington only took up the sport a year ago after shedding a stone and a half. "I managed to weigh in at 11st 3lbs on Sunday," he said.
Although he began riding with his two young daughters a few years ago, it was his friendship with fellow Mayo man Thomas Gallagher from Kiltimagh – who trains horses in north London – who inspired him to race competitively.
He gets up every morning at 4.15am in order to ride out with Mr Gallagher at 4.50am before he starts his working day.
Legendary trainer Charlie Swan – who trains Agent James at stables in Co Tipperary – said Mr Reddington and his horse showed a lot of promise for future races.
"He's done very well. He's one of these fellows who likes to have a go," he said.
"Agent James is a really nice horse, too."
Mr Reddington, a father of two, moved to London at the age of 15, but he never lost his Co Mayo accent nor his love of horses.
And he is looking forward to crossing the pond again next month when he will ride 'Agent James' at the Naas Races on February 10.
"I'm the one who is doing the commuting, but I don't have to do the running as much as the horse does," he joked.
There was no resting on his laurels after his big win, in which he flew directly back to London for his Monday morning training session.
"The way I look at it, the horse can't have a day off so why should I?" he said.