'You better tip a few winners next week or you'll be out the door' - Niall Cronin fondly remembers the much-loved Peter Casey
Sad news emerged this morning that Grade One winning trainer Peter Casey passed away overnight.
A proud Dublin native, Casey was one of the most colourful and popular characters in Irish racing and enjoyed his finest spell when training the talented Flemenstar to win eight races including three times at Grade One level.
Six years ago this weekend, Casey recorded his first ever Grade One success when Flemenstar won the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown by 19-lengths, the first leg of a hat-trick of Grade One victories that Flemenstar would record for Casey.
Of course within minutes of the horse winning at Leopardstown, Casey famously went viral following his interview with RTÉ presenter Tracy Piggott.
"Jesus it's unreal, I can't believe it, I can't believe it," Casey beamed. "I'll have fucking sex tonight and everything and I'm going to go away for a week."
Watch it here:
Casey relished every bit of his new found fame but it certainly didn't change him.
That said, Casey was no stranger to big race success and he enjoyed some memorable winners both over jumps and on the flat. Blessyourpinksox was one high level performer on the flat and Jack The Bus landed some big prizes over jumps, while Casey also bred Scottish Grand National winner Hello Bud amongst others.
There was no censor with Casey, he said it how he thought it and if he didn't agree with you, it wouldn't be long before you knew about it but by the same token, he’d be the first to back up your argument if he agreed.
Casey would often ring out of the blue to air his thoughts, good or bad. Not long after I joined The Herald I remember getting a call from him assessing the tipping in The Herald on a Friday evening. "Ya hoor ya, how the hell did you tip that yoke? What were ya thinking, sure I'd run faster meself."
And before you could get your defence in, he'd continue; "Go on, I've work to do, but you better tip a few winners next week or you'll be out the door."
When Casey's number came up on my phone yesterday morning, the first thought was that I was going to hear all about how the All-Ireland Football champions Dublin would be hammering Kildare in the first round of the National Football League at Croke Park. Casey could make a right few quid by backing his beloved Dublin with some of the racing fraternity from other counties.
Unfortunately it wasn't Peter making the call and son Francis was on the other end telling me the sad news, that his father had lost his battle with illness.
Peter Casey was a real family man and in all the airtime he got during Flemenstar's prime that was obvious. Wife Junie may have reluctantly shared the spotlight at times but after more than 50 years of marriage, their love for each other was absolutely endearing.
Casey defied medical opinion for a few years, especially after being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, and then suffering with some heart issues but it never dampened his personality and if anything, the loss of Flemenstar from his yard was probably as hard on him as any medical diagnosis. Despite losing his stable star to another trainer, the morning the horse left Peter Casey walked out the yard and wished the owner well with his decision. That was a measure of the man.
Few people could call you "a hoor" with such affection, few will ever match the character of Peter Casey. A Grade One winning trainer with a grade one personality.