Friday 19 January 2018

Sending Woodbine rivals up in smoke a real career high

Last weekend could be described as less than typical. I was gone from my house in Carlow at 4.30 on Saturday morning, bound for Toronto via Dublin and Heathrow. My final destination was Woodbine Racecourse, where I would ride Roan Inish in the Canadian Oaks for Carolyn Costigan.

Carolyn was born in Tipperary, but moved to Canada when she was young. She returned to spend two years with Jim Bolger, which is how I met her. Roan Inish is owned by her father, Robert, who sent her to Jim's with his daughter.

When Carolyn was due to saddle Roan Inish as her first ever runner in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Woodbine last October, she asked me to go over to ride. I'm glad I said yes. We won and all roads led back to Woodbine on Sunday.

Carolyn and I really fancied Roan Inish. When she was at Jim's, she was second on her debut, but then had a couple of bad runs. On Sunday, however, things couldn't have gone better. Roan Inish travelled well and picked up to win by a comfortable head.

With a winner's purse of $350,000 (approx €285,000), it was easily the biggest win of my career, as it was for the owner and trainer. Big wins like that raise a jockey's profile, so it will do no harm for trainers here to see that I can get the job done with the right horse.

And victory was particularly sweet for Carolyn. She had gotten grief in Canada for spending her apprenticeship at Jim's. People said it was a different style of training in Ireland and that it wouldn't stand to her. The critics obviously don't know much about Jim Bolger!

After the race, I only had time for a quick celebratory drink with the Costigans as my flight was just a couple of hours after the race. Duty called and I had more modest engagements to fulfil at Roscommon on Monday evening.

I had two rides there, with Ultra Cool piped on the line in the fillies' maiden. Having run only once before, she just got tired when she hit the front. For good measure, the stewards gave me a few days for careless riding. They said they had to give me a ban me because I was cautioned last week, but it was a harsh call.

I was back riding out in Jim's from Tuesday, before heading to Fairyhouse on Wednesday and Leopardstown yesterday.

Roan Inish's next target will be the Queen's Plate back at Woodbine on July 4, when she will tackle the best of the colts.

I won't be riding at Limerick this evening, as I must attend the funeral of Fr Liam O'Connell. Fr O'Connell baptised our children, and was a great friend and champion of the Neocatechumenal Way. He will be a huge loss to Christians in Ireland.

I should be back in action at Down Royal tomorrow, where I hope to ride Mianach for the boss in the Ulster Derby. He is a nice three-year-old that has won his last two, so he should run a big race off bottom weight.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out

Irish Independent

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