• Donal McInerney

    When I took the decision to turn conditional I could never have dreamt that things would take off like they have this season and it has been a great couple of months. I didn't think things would be going this well to be honest and I’m now just three winners away from going down to a 5lbs claim. 

    Making the decision to turn conditional from amateur had been on my mind for a while as I couldn't really get any rides point-to-pointing. I was point-to-pointing for about five years but only had about four winners and was averaging about 30 rides a season and was lucky if I had a winner each season.

    I was working for Enda Bolger at the time and he fully backed me. His advice was that if I could stay around 10st that I should take a chance and give it a go and see how I got on and if things didn't work out I could always go back to being an amateur. And I haven't looked back since, thank God. 

    My first winner came shortly afterwards in the banks race at Punchestown in February on Auvergnat for Enda and JP McManus so that was a good start anyway! That was my only winner last season but I’ve had 16 so far this year and Mr McManus and Frank Berry have been very good to me. It is fantastic to ride winners in those colours and last Sunday winning the Grade B Handicap Chase at Cork on Ballyoisin was great to get. He’s a good horse to be getting a spin on, all those top weights in the big handicap chases have a bit of class and it’s great to be getting a chance on them. 

    Ballyoisin can be quite free but we went such a gallop it worked out grand and he’s a classy horse. Enda has done a great job with him. I didn't know until Friday morning when I was on my way to Downpatrick and saw my name beside him, that was the first I knew I was riding him so it was a bit of a surprise, but a very pleasant one.

    I’ve a great agent in Garry Cribbin - he’s very good at his job. I’ve had three rides for Gigginstown as well, one for Mouse Morris and two for Henry de Bromhead and it was nice to get a winner for them on High School Days in Gowran Park. 

    I’m local to Enda Bolger, from Herbertstown which is about 20-minutes away, and ride out there three mornings a week and I’m in Jessica Harrington’s now two mornings a week and just trying to spread myself around on the other couple of days. 

    You do plenty of schooling in Enda’s, over banks and any sort of obstacle at all, and you’d nearly learn something new every week, every week is different there. 

    I had gone freelance for a while and was riding out a bit for Charles Byrnes and Robert Tyner but about three years ago I broke my knee and was out for a few months. I wanted to just get back and get a job to get my fitness back so I went back to Enda’s and since then I have started to pick up rides for JP McManus and it all sort of worked out well since then so I haven't looked back. 

    In the weighroom Mark Walsh would always have been very good to me and would give you a helping hand and Davy Russell and Ruby as well would be chatting away with you and they are great lads to have giving you advice and on your side. 

      It was just the other day I had a look at the conditional jockeys table and since I spotted that I started thinking it would be a nice thing to win. JJ Slevin is on 19, three in front of me at the moment and I’d love to win that. I’m leading the Adare Manor Opportunity Series at the moment but if we can stay injury free and keep getting good rides I won’t panic but I would love to be champion conditional if it was possible. If not this season, maybe it’ll happen next season. We won’t be greedy though, if I can just keep picking up the rides I’m getting at the moment, I’ll be happy enough. My only target at the moment is to stay sound and try to keep improving and make as many contacts as I can

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