• In The Stables with Gary Carroll

    I’m hoping my luck at Royal Ascot takes a turn for the better next week. I’ve ridden at the meeting a couple of times and might have a chance of improving my record at the track on Thursday when hopefully Born To Play will take his chance in either the King George V Stakes or the Hampton Court Stakes.

     

    His trainer Joe Murphy has been very good to me, a great supporter over the years. We have a good partnership going and have had plenty of success together. It was great that Joe got off the mark for the season at the Curragh on Saturday with Silverkode in the five furlong maiden.

     

    It should have been a lot better but Only Mine just lost out in the Group 3 Ballyogan Stakes the following afternoon. It was gutting really. She hated every inch of the ground but is as tough as they come. I was so sorry for her on Sunday. She did everything right, battled all the way to pass the one in front of her only to have Penny Pepper catch us on the line. She ran a super race and I have no doubt that she will win her Group 3 again this year. She is certainly up to that standard and could even go higher again. Time is on her side and she is a very valuable broodmare in the making. There would be nothing to lose by going up in grade with her. She has loads of options, both at home and abroad.

     

    Born To Play is still a maiden but he is certainly worthy of his Royal Ascot entries. He went close behind subsequent Navan winner Gold Spinner at Cork in the middle of April and closer again when second to Homesman in the Group 3 Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh at the end of last month. He’s pretty high-class and stepping up to a mile and a half will be the making of him. The King George V Stakes could be his race. It’s exciting to be honest.

     

    And Joe deserves a change of luck. He has had a frustrating time of it so far this year but has a nice bunch of horses. They were just a bit slow to come to hand but they have been running well since the opening day, just hitting the crossbar time after time. But there are plenty of future winners among them and Joe will have a great second half of the season. I’d bet on that.

     

    I ride as a freelance and another great stable in my corner is that of Ger Lyons. It was great to win the Listed Glencairn Stakes for Ger on Brendan Brackan at Leopardstown last week. He’s an eight-year-old now and a legend of a horse, a real favourite in the yard. He never lets you down and just goes and does it. I also won the Tote Irish Lincolnshire on him at Naas on the opening day of the season, that wasn’t a bad way to start off! We thought he might need the run that day and rode him from off the pace a little to get him to finish. It worked out well. The run at Leopardstown was his third of the year and he was just brilliant. He wouldn’t want it too quick, a bit of juice in the ground and he’ll put it up to anything.

     

    He is also a mighty lead horse. If anything can trouble him in a piece of work, you know they are in the best of form. Brendan is very valuable in that regard as well.

     

    I go up to Glenburnie twice a week for their work mornings. Of course I ride out for Joe Murphy too and also help out Adrian Keatley and Sheila Lavery on a very regular basis. Mick Mulvaney brings his horses to the Curragh on a Wednesday and I’d meet up with him after the morning in Ger’s. I’m on the Curragh most days and happy to help out and meet up with everyone I can.

     

    My dad Raymond was a jockey back in the day and a Classic winning one at that! He still rides out every morning and there is not a bother on him. He is fitter now than he ever was. There is nothing wrong with his eyes anyway! He watches everything and misses nothing. He’s my biggest critic. I dread the phone call when I’ve messed up. But he’s been there and done it all and I’d be a fool not to listen to him. He doesn’t mince his words and he certainly doesn’t hold back. I’d be lost without him, he’s the best in the world.

     

    It’s a toss-up between him and my mam Sally as to who is my biggest supporter. She is the Student Liaison Officer at the Irish National Stud here in Kildare and is heavily involved in the thoroughbred breeding course that educates so many every year. She takes great pride in her work and has played a huge role in the development of the training course. She has been there for years but retires from her job in a few months’ time. I know that she’ll miss it terribly. From what I’ve heard, they’ll miss her too. She’s pretty popular by all accounts.

     

    When she gets a bit more time to herself, she can help me out with the couple of hunters’ I keep around the place. Hunting is my favourite past-time and I always have a few horses on the go for the season. I’ve also been involved in a couple of pinhooks over the years but haven’t hit the jackpot yet! I love researching the pedigrees but it’s a bit of a gamble for sure. It’s one that I enjoy though and the little we’ve made from it, we are happy to reinvest.

     

    Like every jockey, I’d go anywhere to ride a good horse and I've enjoyed my travels. I've had great fun in Dubai where I was lucky enough to ride a winner. I've ridden nice winners in England too over the years and wouldn’t say no to one at Royal Ascot next week. The season is going well for me but that would bring everything to a new level. 

     

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