Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Wily trainers pull fast one

My day-to-day routine has changed a bit since I broke my collarbone in a fall at the Pardubice Chase meeting in the Czech Republic six weeks ago. Youth is not on my side, I suppose, so the break has been very slow to heal.

It is starting to feel better, and I'm swimming every day as well as doing a bit of work in the gym to speed up the healing process. I'm due to see my specialist next Monday or Tuesday, so I'm hoping to be able to start riding out again shortly.

For the past few years, I've also been working part-time as a rep for Gain Horse Feeds. In recent days, I've been trying to make up for days I lost when I couldn't drive because of my shoulder. It's hard going into places these days looking for money when there's none circulating, but you've just got to do what you can.

I enjoy the rep work. I could go into a yard and spend an hour talking hurling or racing or whatever when I might only need to be there for five minutes. That's all part of the job, and I've learned which places to turn up to at feeding time.

For example, Michael Hourigan's wife Ann does a smashing lunch, so I time my run carefully for destinations like that. After all, you can't work on an empty stomach.

Time spent on the sidelines is pretty boring, though, and I've had more than my share of daytime television by now. At least in the evenings my son Ross keeps me busy.

It was hurling on Monday, handball on Tuesday and soccer on Wednesday. Yesterday was his day off, but it's back to hurling again today, handball tomorrow, and rugby on Sunday. Ferrying him around keeps me busy, and it's something to look forward to.

Not that he is having all the fun. On Sunday, we had the annual jockeys versus trainers football match at Simonstown GAA club near Navan, a charity event organised in aid of the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.

I had the dubious honour of managing the jockeys' team, but we got a drubbing from a trainers' selection that featured a few unlicensed individuals, shall we say. Put it this way, we could have done with the likes of Gordon Elliott getting more game time.

In the hope of some divine inspiration, I went to mass on Sunday morning -- which isn't something I'd normally do. It was a good job I did, because it was only when I saw the girl who owns the dry-cleaners that I remembered I had forgotten to pick up the jerseys from her on Saturday. Thankfully, she didn't mind getting them for me.

Things went downhill thereafter. As soon as I collected my assistant Derek Stamp, who works at Ballydoyle, it became clear that there wasn't going to be much in the way of tactical discussions on the way to the game. He wasn't in the best of shape.

As for the game itself, well, it was a bit of a mismatch. Colm O'Rourke and Joe Sheridan were on the trainers' team, as was Willie McCreery -- at least he is a trainer.

To be honest, McCreery ran the show. He seemed to own the ball, and hit a goal at one stage that I'd say would have broken our 'keeper David Casey's hand if he got a touch to it. I don't think I've ever seen anyone hit the ball so hard.

We had Niall Quinn and Colm O'Rourke's son, Paddy, for the second half, but 30 jockeys turned up and they had all raised money, so I had to give everyone a game. The trainers weren't nearly as sporting, although I must give credit to Joe Sheridan.

After his try in Croke Park this summer, we weren't sure how he'd adapt to orthodox Gaelic football, but they kept him out around the middle of the pitch, and he seemed to manage okay out there. Obviously the key is to keep him away from goal!

Afterwards, my own lads told me I had lost the dressing-room. Maybe I had, but you can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear either, can you lads?

Anyway, it was all in a good cause, as is Sunday's big meeting at Fairyhouse, which we are doing our best to push through the Support Your Sport initiative.

There will be various forums for punters on the day and opportunities to meet all the best jockeys and trainers, not to mention three top-class Grade Ones.

So c'mon, wrap up warm on Sunday and support your sport. It should be a great day's racing.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out

Irish Independent

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