Losing claim caps a week to remember
IT has been an unbelievable couple of weeks for me. Once the weather finally cleared up to allow racing go ahead at Limerick after Christmas, everything started to fall into place.
I rode and trained Drive On Jim to win over fences on the Tuesday of the festival, and then again over hurdles two days later. In between, I also won on Stephanie Kate for Charlie Swan on the Wednesday.
With only eight horses, my training set-up in Clough-jordan is quite small. I'm just 23-years-old, so riding remains my number one priority, although obviously the horses at home take up a lot of my time.
I ride out four mornings a week for Charlie, who I still consider to be my boss. I'd usually be finished there at about 10.0, so I have time to go back home then and do my own. I also ride a lot of work for Ronnie O'Leary and Mick Hogan.
All the same, I enjoy the training. You get a great buzz out of it, and the work doesn't bother me. A 15-hour day at my own place wouldn't put me up or down.
Having said that, I'd love to get a few years out of the riding yet. If I was offered the right job in the morning, say a number one position, I'd even put the training on hold. However, the best jobs are rare and I'm perfectly happy as I am.
Charlie is a great man to work for, very fair, and he has been responsible for my education in this game. When I started out as a kid, it was at his riding school -- where his sister Natasha and Tony Ennis were the instructors -- that I learnt to ride.
When I was 13 or 14, I began riding out for Charlie. Then he sent me to Michael Halford's for my apprenticeship and I have been back with him now for five or six years. You couldn't ask for a better mentor.
Anyway, my good fortune continued at Cork on Monday, where Kylebeg Krystle won over hurdles. She was the fourth winner that I trained this term and my 11th as a jockey, which equalled my previous seasonal best.
What's more, it was a family success. Apart from me riding and training Kylebeg Krystle, my father Martin owns her and my sister Deirdre led her up. My mother Mary also came racing, so 2011 couldn't have got off to a better start.
Despite never having horses, my parents have always been a huge support to me, and I now train on part of the farm at home. To celebrate on Monday evening, we all went to The Fairways restaurant for a meal. That was lovely.
With a busy schedule again the following day, my girlfriend Anna and I didn't delay getting home. Tuesday is a work morning at Charlie's, so I had to be there for 7.0.
After that, I took two of my own to Mick Hogan's gallop, and Anna brought them home while I headed off to Thurles to ride a couple of Mick's in schooling bumpers. Once I was done there, it was back home to help out in the yard.
I was back at Thurles yesterday, where Slippers Percy won for me for the first time at 33/1 at the age of nine. It's unreal how things fall for you when your luck is in, although I did think that he had a chance, and he got his own way out in front.
His owner deserved something in return for his persistence and, being my 60th career success, the win also means that I have now lost my claim. That's something every young jockey wants to achieve, so it was another excellent day.
My book of rides for this weekend isn't finalised, but I do know that I ride two for Oliver Brady. Saddler's Native is in off a light weight at Punchestown tomorrow, although Baron De Feypo may be the better of the two at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Hopefully, 2011 can continue to go as well as the last fortnight has done. Riding winners is ultimately what it's all about for me and I'd be happy to keep the numbers in training small so long as there are one or two nice horses in the yard.
Trying to combine both jobs means that my schedule is pretty hectic, but I'd prefer that to being idle. Some people might say that I'm a bit cracked -- and maybe I am -- but I wouldn't be happy doing anything else.
For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out www.goracing.ie