• In the Stables with Nathan Crosse

    I have a big decision to make in the coming weeks. I’m not the first teenager to find myself in the position that I’m in and there is no getting away from it. School’s back in September. Do I go back or not?

    Let’s just say I’m in talks! My mam Bernadette and dad Matt are keen that I swap the saddle for the school uniform every morning. And of course I can see where they are coming from. But I’m reluctant to go back. We’ll talk it through soon and hopefully I’ll come out on top. 

    I started riding out for Tommy Stack when I was 14. My dad was head lad there at the time. He rode in England and America back in the day and linked up with the Stacks after he retired. He has just started a new job with Joseph O'Brien in the last few weeks. 

    And I have dad and my younger brother Shane to thank for my interest in horses. Dad bought Shane a pony called Pair Of Jacks from Billy Kennedy and I couldn’t believe the fun they were both getting out of him. They were having great craic and I thought I’d give it a go. I won on Pair Of Jacks on my first ride which was on the beach at Ballyheigue. But as I was working away, I only rode at a couple of flapper meetings but my last ride was also a winner. 

    Shane is in his final season of pony racing. He’s done very well and rode a winner on each of the three days at Dingle last weekend. But he arrived home in an awful mood as he was unseated at the start in the Derby itself. A horse in front of him refused to race and ran straight in to him. There was nothing he could do but he was raging! He’s riding out for Joseph O'Brien for the summer and things are going well for him. 

    I signed on as an apprentice with Willie McCreery at the start of the year and I can't thank him enough. I had been riding out for him during school holidays for a couple of years and was delighted when he took me on. As summers go, I've had a great one. In fact the whole year couldn’t have gone any better. 

    I rode out for Dessie Donovan a bit over the years and he gave me my first ride in an apprentice race at Dundalk at the end of February. I wasn’t as nervous heading up to the track as I thought I might have been. The pony racing definitely helped with that. Dessie put me up on a lovely horse and it was a great way to start off.

    At Naas on the opening day of the season, I rode against the full professionals for the first time. It was a different experience altogether. It was just as quick but they ride a lot tighter! There wasn’t much room. My first winner came on just my third ride, on Elm Grove for Willie and owner John Malone at Cork at the beginning of April. 
    It was brilliant. The race was over a mile and Elm Grove would want further and we were out the back going as fast as we could early on. But turning in, she started to pick them off and she was well on top at the end, winning by half a length. My family were all there and they got a big kick out of it. I was in school the following morning and everyone was delighted for me. 

    My brother Shane wasn’t the only member of the family riding winners over the weekend. I rode two for Willie. Any winner is important but these were pretty special. At Tipperary on Friday night, Raramauri won the auction maiden over five furlongs. She is owned by Willie’s wife Amanda and it was great to ride a winner in her colours. I don’t think she was too happy to have missed the race though! The boss might have had a bit of explaining to do when he got home. 

    Snowstar was an important winner for me. It was my first at the Curragh and my first for Godolphin. It was a great opportunity to ride for them and I was thrilled to get the opportunity. She is a fine filly and it looks like she will be up in class for her next start. 

    Everyone at Willie’s has been great to me and it means so much to be riding winners for the yard. Mick Clarke is the headman and Billy Lee and Mark Enright are in a couple of times a week. My dad and Billy have been friends for years and I would have met him first in Stack’s a few years ago. I’d be in for 6.50 every day and would ride out five lots. It’s a busy yard. 

    Willie set up a meeting for myself, Billy and Peter Kavanagh with the well-known nutritionist Crionna Tobin at Leopardstown last week and she put us right on a plenty of things. Protein is the key. Mam wouldn’t let me leave home without being able to cook for myself and I do all my own meals. Thanks to her, I eat well, plenty of fish, chicken and vegetables. 

    I’ve been lucky with my lodgings in my time on the Curragh. I stayed with Mark MacRedmond and his family in Rathangan when I first came up two years ago and they couldn’t have been more welcoming. I'm great pals with Mark’s son Cian. More recently, I've been staying with Chris Hayes and his girlfriend Rachel Kennedy. I have to make sure I’m quiet in the mornings though. They wouldn’t be up as early as me. 

    And hopefully, I’ll be tip-toeing around their house for some time to come. If I’m still with Chris and Rachel on September 1, they are stuck with me!


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