Tuesday 26 September 2017

Karen Morgan: People raise eyebrows when they see me driving the lorry

Trainer Gordon Elliott
Trainer Gordon Elliott

THE way it is with my boss Gordon Elliott, you can never be sure of his plans until the horses are on the way out the yard gate in the lorry.

As his travelling head girl, it's not unknown for me to have to unload a horse and all its gear before finally leaving the premises. Part of what makes Gordon such a good trainer, though, is that he isn't sure himself until every possible permutation is known and the whole team at Capranny embraces those same high standards.

Still, when you are the one responsible for coordinating transport and staff for the day's runners at Limerick and Ballinrobe so that you can enjoy a rare day off to go to the Phoenix Park for a concert, a bit of certainty helps.

That was the situation I found myself in on Sunday and I eventually managed to hitch the horses and staff a ride to both venues with Tony Martin's crew, who were also going to the two meetings.

Once I had that organised, I was able to enjoy Florence and the Machine and Snow Patrol with a bunch of friends -- though not without getting absolutely covered in mud. I had booked Monday off too, so I was able to let me hair down for a change.

There is a lot of responsibility in my position and it's a job that wouldn't suit every 22-year-old, because you can't go out much and you dare not risk a single drink if you are driving the next day.

Now and then, when I see my friends heading out, I do get slightly envious, but it's not something I dwell on because I love what I do.

I am the only one on the yard qualified to drive the lorry and Gordon puts immense trust in me, so you have to be on the ball. That's a situation I've grown to relish.

People raise an eyebrow when they see that it's a petite little 22-year-old girl that drives the lorry, but I've been addicted to racing since I did the apprentices' course at the Racing Academy and Centre of Education during Transition Year.

My parents, who have nothing to do with racing, weren't happy when I told them that I wasn't going back to school, but they supported me once they realised how determined I was.

The lifestyle is demanding, and, unless Gordon finds a fella that is willing to move into the lorry with me, I won't be getting married anytime soon. That's fine with me.

On Tuesday, I was back on the road as normal. Gordon is in the process of completing his new yard at Longwood, so I was dispatched to pick up stable doors -- for a change.

On Wednesday, we had a single runner at Wexford, which, at three hours, isn't too bad a journey for us.

On the way home, I picked up a horse that had been out at grass in Carbury and, with Gordon busy at the sales in Newmarket this week, the yard will now begin to really fill up.

Yesterday, I collected five from Gigginstown Stud in Mullingar. We are getting a lot of the Gigginstown point-to-pointers for the first time this year, so that is going to swell the numbers even more, and is an exciting development for the yard.

Gordon absolutely loves the pointing. If we have runners at the track and at a point-to-point, he usually sends me to the track and goes to the point-to-point himself, so he will be in his element when all the Gigginstown horses begin running.

Today, I will be in Downpatrick, before making for the late boat at Belfast tonight ahead of Sunday's racing in Perth.

From our gate, Perth takes about nine hours.

It's a long haul. When we get there tomorrow morning, we'll ride the horses out, bath them and get everything organised, so it doesn't just stop once we arrive.

Indeed, to everyone else looking in, the races are all that matter, so here's hoping we'll make for the boat home with a couple of winners on board.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie

Irish Independent

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