Saturday 20 January 2018

You can't beat first win

It was some thrill to ride my first winner under rules at my local course in Listowel on Monday. I am from Asdee, just a few miles from the track, so all my family were there to support me on Chrisdonlady in the hunters' chase. It was lovely to have that.

Chrisdonlady provided me with my first point-to-point win at Rathcannon on my first ride back in September, and on Monday I was riding over fences on the track for just a second time, having ridden her to finish second at Tipperary two weeks previously.

I know her well at this stage and she is great to jump, so I went out confident enough that we'd have a chance.

She didn't let me down.

Out in front is where Chrisdonlady loves to be and we didn't see another horse from the moment the tapes went up. She just ran and jumped for fun, although we did have one shaky moment at the third-last fence. Thankfully, she stayed up and I stayed on.

The reception we got afterwards was amazing. I knew a lot of my neighbours had come down to cheer me on, but people that I hadn't seen for years were coming up to me afterwards to congratulate me. That's a memory I will savour forever.

I am a qualified veterinary surgeon, but I work full-time with Chrisdonlady's trainer, Paddy Neville, in Askeaton. The buzz you get from riding is incredible, and I've been blessed to have a bit of luck in running, which makes it all the more enjoyable.

After the races, we all went for a meal to celebrate. I drive up and down to work every day from home, so it was all very sober, but it was nice to mark the occasion.

My parents are mad into racing as well and there'd have always been a horse or pony around the farm at home. When I went to college, the horses died out a little.

Then I was working in a veterinary practice in Limerick after I qualified, which is how I got to know Paddy. He was a client of ours that I would have visited on calls, and the next thing I knew I was riding out for him in the mornings.


It was Paddy that really pushed me to take out my licence and give the riding a go. Nowadays we put our heads together to try and run the yard as efficiently as possible.

There is just the two of us full-time, and it's useful for him to have a vet on-site. I know it certainly helps to keep his bills down anyway!

I still do some locum work a few days a week. The yard is where my priority lies at the moment and I am in there every morning, but I try to combine both.

I certainly don't want to pack in the veterinary work, so I'll take it as it comes. If I need to go racing, I go, and it's ideal to be able to do the locum work when I can.

Since Monday, it has been back to the grindstone. We are always trying to get new owners and horses into the yard, and there's no better time to do that than when you've just had a winner.

We've had some horses come back into training this week, while we've been pushing a few more owners in the door at the same time. That's what it's all about.

With a bit of luck, I'll be able to ride some of the horses that we have here in qualified riders' races during the summer. The licence that I have now, a category C, gives me the freedom to do that, so I would love to be able to continue to make use of it.

In the meantime, having not had a holiday for as long as I've worked for Paddy -- a year and a half! -- on Wednesday I took the liberty of booking a short break in Portugal for next week.

We aren't going to have any runners, so I felt I'd better take the chance while it was going. Knowing me, I'll soon be itching to get back to the horses.

For more information on racing in Ireland this weekend check out

Irish Independent

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