Sport Horse Racing

Friday 22 November 2019

I'm heading to Croker to see my former teacher lift Sam

It has been all go this week. I start work in Dessie Hughes' yard at 7.30 every morning, and by the time I finish there at 12.30, it's a case of jumping straight into the car and heading down the road to Listowel. I had no ride on Tuesday afternoon, so that was a chance to draw breath.

On Sunday, I took a bad fall from Pistol Jack in the handicap chase and gave my wrist a knock. Having broken it last year, I was afraid I'd gone and done it again. In the end, it was just bruised, so while I rode on Monday, I was glad to give it a rest on Tuesday. Pistol Jack's fall four out was unfortunate, as I thought he'd nearly win.

I've had three seconds this week and everything that I have ridden has run well, but it would be nice to nick a winner. Had the rain not come earlier in the week, I thought I might even do so on Dessie's Lenabane in the Kerry National on Wednesday.

I've been lucky enough to ride a couple of winners at Listowel's June meetings, but, coming from Tralee, to win the National would be a dream come true. Once the rain came, conditions went against Lenabane, but he ran a brave race in third. There will be a big day in him yet and, hopefully, I will be on him when he gets his turn. Dessie has been very supportive of me and it's great to have his backing.

We've had an excellent summer. Things have been going so well that there have been times when I haven't been able to ride my dad Tom's horses as Dessie is keeping me so busy. That's what happened yesterday, when dad ran Son Amix in the beginners' chase, but I was on Mr Nosie for Dessie. Unfortunately both came up short on the day.

Since I've got going, dad's horses haven't been in the limelight so much, but the likes of Forpadydeplasterer and River Liane have made good recoveries from injury and are getting ready to run again. I'd love to ride a decent winner for dad, especially on a horse of the calibre of Forpady, so fingers crossed we see them in back in action soon.

One thing I never thought I'd see was Robbie McNamara participating in manual labour. Robbie 'Mac' wouldn't be renowned for a love of hard graft, but he came in to ride work with us for the first time at Dessie's on Wednesday. Everyone chips in there, and at one point Robbie was spotted carrying two buckets of water across the yard. I'm sure it left him in need of a long lie down.

I will be heading for Croke Park on Sunday for the All-Ireland football final. I used to play for Kieran Donaghy's club Austin Stacks -- better known locally as 'The Rock' -- when I was younger. In fact, Marc O Se used to teach me history before I left school after doing the Junior Cert. When he heard that I was going into racing, he predicted that I'd never succeed and that I'd be back looking for a job within a couple of years.

I made sure to give him a big wave when I drove by him in town recently in my new BMW -- I'm still not quite sure how to describe the look on his face!

Joking aside, I'll be cheering him on come Sunday. I don't think Dublin will be able to go the distance against Kerry, and this is the time of year that Kerry tend to come into their own.

As for my prospects today, Eightybarackstreet is my only ride in the novice hurdle. The first-time blinkers should help, but he may need better ground. I also ride Coole Avenue and Lucky William for dad tomorrow. Coole Avenue didn't take to fences, but we think he's well handicapped over hurdles, while Lucky William is another coming back from injury. Both should go very close.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Champions Cup returns, Jacob Stockdale's development, and Simon Zebo goes back to Munster

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