• In the Stables with Louise Magee

    Having spent years working for Gordon Elliott I’ve just about come back down from the buzz of riding a winner for him at Punchestown recently.  For years and years I have been saying I’d love to ride in the Charity Race at the Punchestown Festival but every time it came around, things were fairly hectic in work or at home and it just never really happened so when Punchestown had their day dedicated to stable staff a couple of weeks ago it all came around really quick. It was a great feeling to actually do it, but to go and win it was something else.  I actually wasn’t really that aware of the race itself but when Mary Nugent and Camilla Sharples saw the race was for people who had never rode in any sort of race, they put my name forward without telling me and then there really was no going back!  The race was over in a flash and it’s hard to really remember a lot of it, but thanks to Gordon, he put me up on a horse like Taglietelle that had a good chance and to do it at Punchestown as well made it really, really special. Ever since, the lads in the yard have been egging me on to go again and do something like the Corinthian Challenge next year.  There’s a lot of fundraising involved for the Corinthian Challenge but in fairness to the community around Summerhill they are very good for things like that and it is for a very good cause (Irish Injured Jockeys) so maybe I’ll give it some thought over Christmas! 

    Working in Gordon’s is absolutely fantastic. I love it. I have two sets of twin boys, who are in second class and junior infants, so I just work Saturdays and Sundays in Gordon’s now but it’s a great place to work. Coming up to the race, for a month or so, I was back going in most mornings, I’d drop the four lads off to school and then go back to Gordon’s to ride out three or four lots and then back to pick the lads up from school. It was all worth it.  At the weekends I’d bring the horses racing and usually ride out beforehand if we have time. There’s just a really good vibe in the place, we all get on really well together and when you are having winners it’s all the more enjoyable for everyone. 

    A day I’ll never forget is leading Don Cossack up to win the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in 2016. Karen Morgan would have looked after Don in Gordon’s but when she left to go back studying I got to look after him and it was just a magical experience to be able to lead up a horse in the biggest race of all. I remember that season the horse ran in Kempton in the King George on December 26th and Gordon was fantastic about it. It was obviously very tough for me to have to spend Christmas in England when I have a husband and four young kids but while I was mulling it over Gordon actually arranged for the horse to go over and me to fly over the morning of the race and that meant I got the best of every world. Unfortunately the race didn't work out and Don Cossack fell at the second last fence and that was horrible. Heart in your mouth stuff when he was down. But thank God, he got up and that soon became history. 

    Cheltenham was a rollercoaster of emotions because we had a bit of a tough week to start but the build up to Don Cossack was a unique experience. I just remember when Don was turning in for home in the Gold Cup we just took off roaring and shouting up the horse walk and getting to lead him into that amphitheatre of the Cheltenham winners enclosure just gives you goosebumps even thinking about it. 

    I play GAA for my club Summerhill and spent a couple of years playing for Meath so when we got to parade the horse through Summerhill it just meant so much to everyone. Gordon sponsors the GAA club and my father is chairman, to be able to bring a Gold Cup winner back to your hometown is stuff you couldn't even dream of. 

    There’s been a lot of good days in Gordon’s but the Gold Cup and then riding a winner at Punchestown in front of my husband, Gavin and our four kids, are two days that will live with me forever. When you have the likes of Samcro and some of the really good horses that are there at the moment it doesn’t really feel too much like work going in there. Samcro looks to be of the same calibre as Don Cossack when he was starting out so it is all very exciting. 

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