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Horse racing

Under the spotlight: questions and answers with Jim Bolger

What was your childhood ambition? To get a job which would enable me to buy some horses.

Growing up, who was your sporting hero?

Nickey Rackard.

Who do you turn to for advice?

My wife, Jackie.

What or where is your happy place?


What sparked your love of racing?

I always wanted to be around horses and followed show jumping and horse racing from an early age.

What horse put you on the map?

Condessa. Her victories in the early 1980s gave me my first major racecourse successes. She developed to become one of the best staying fillies of her generation in Europe, beating an exceptionally strong field in the Musidora Stakes at York racecourse, finishing second in the Irish Oaks, and recording her biggest win when she won the Yorkshire Oaks.

Who is your favourite horse?

Teofilo is my favourite horse, the first European champion to be bred in Oylegate, as was his dam.

Describe the feeling of training your first winner?

Almost as good as the five All-Irelands won by Wexford in my time.

What is your most memorable racing moment?

Winning the Irish Derby at the Curragh with St Jovite in 1992. He still holds the track record for the fastest Derby.

If you weren't trainer what would you be?

Definitely a farmer.

If you could train one horse, what would it be?

Without a doubt, Secretariat.

How do you cope with pressure?

I don't do pressure - it's for tyres.

What mental preparation do you do for the big days?

Just get them ready and hope for some luck in running.

How do you stay motivated?

My staff see to that.

How do you deal with dips in form?

Don't get too high with success or too low with defeat.

Outside of racing, what is your favourite sporting moment?

The 1996 hurling final and seeing Mick Butler shed a tear. Liam Griffin was brilliant too.

Can you give us a film recommendation?

Michael Collins, although Eamon De Valera was treated unfairly.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Mars bars - I've been off them since 1977!

Desert island discs - name your favourite three songs?

Boolavogue, Kelly the Boy from Killane, and The Boys of Wexford.

What person do you admire the most and why?

Seán Lemass - having played a big part in the War of Independence, as Taoiseach in the 1960s he set our economy on a most successful trajectory.

Favourite dinner?

Steak dinner in Liam Griffin's Ferrycarrig Hotel.

Where is your favourite place to go on holidays?

Croke Park in September, or is it August??? (All-Ireland hurling final day).

What ambitions do you still have?

The only Classic I have yet to win is the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

What is the hidden gem of Wexford?


When you think of Wexford/your family home, what immediately springs to mind?

My parents - Watt and Katie - and my four brothers and three sisters.

How are you occupying your time during the Covid-19 restrictions?

I'm kept busy looking after one hundred horses.

What would be your top piece of advice in these worrying times?

Take great care and trust in God.

Favourite saying/quote?

Every deed has a consequence.

Thanks to Barbara White, PR and Events Manager, Horse Racing Ireland, for her help with this feature.

Enniscorthy Guardian