Jane Mangan: In the Stables
Privileged to lead a double life
Sunday at Limerick was what you might call a successful day at the office for me. For the second year in a row, I won the same two races on the card. Dont Tell Pa, which is trained by my father Jimmy and owned by my mother Mary, took the handicap hurdle in style and Charlie Swan's Casablanca Lily obliged in the bumper.
Because mum was away at the sales in Tattersalls, myself and dad went out for a meal once we got home to Conna on Sunday night. Win, lose or draw, there was going to be no dinner on the table, so eating out was the only option available.
Dont Tell Pa might be in the handicapper's grip by now, but he is in at Cork again on Sunday and, if dad is happy with him, he could run. Another to keep an eye out for is Kilcrea. I think he is the most exciting prospect we have and he is certainly a better horse than when disappointing under my brother Patrick on bad ground at Tipperary.
To be honest, I don't know if any of us would achieve half the things we do if it weren't for mum – she is a real driving force. She oversees every aspect of the business and, if you're doing anything wrong, she is the one who will set you straight.
When we have winners on the track, everyone sees that, but the training side is subsidiary to our breeding operation. I joined my mother in Fairyhouse on Tuesday and the two foals we had to sell sold well. It was my 19th birthday and while I don't get too excited about that kind of thing, that ensured it was a good birthday.
I am also juggling the first year of a marketing degree at Cork IT. From helping out at home, I know how straining and financially challenging the training business is. I wouldn't rule it out completely as a career option, but it's not really feasible for a trainer to set up in the current climate. Things would need to improve appreciably.
Race-riding is a similarly precarious vocation, so I felt that having a business degree to fall back on would be important. I am determined to complete the four-year course, but it is essentially a case of college fitting in around the racing and not vice versa.
Because I am commuting from home, it's often too dark to ride out before I leave in the morning. You have to stay sharp, though, so I ride out in the afternoons instead.
When you are doing that and then going from one side of the country to the other for rides, you don't have much time for socialising. There just aren't enough hours in the day, although I make it my business to sample that side of student life once in a while.
It's all a bit of a balancing act and my lecturers have been very fair in facilitating my racing activities. In saying that, 99pc of them have no idea what I do outside of college, and the same goes for my classmates. I reckon I'd have to do something extraordinary for them to recognise me – or if they do, they haven't said!
That was a bit of an eye-opener, not because I expect to be recognised but because I expected more people, especially in Ireland, to have some idea about racing. Since starting in college, it has become very apparent to me that is not the case.
Maybe it's an IT or a city thing – I don't know – but that's the challenge that racing faces nowadays. Anyway, it means I lead something of a double life.
While people often complain about being busy and tired, for me it's a privilege to be getting the chances that I am in the racing world. There's never a dull moment or idle time, but that's the way to be. You certainly won't hear me complaining.
For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie