• In The Stables With Richard O'Brien

    I qualified as a dentist in my twenties but I never let decay grow on my love of horses and these last few months have justified my decision to become a trainer. It has always been a lifelong dream of mine and, so far anyway, it has not turned into a nightmare thanks to nine wins with just four horses. 

    Alans Pride and Tom Dooley have put me on the map. They have been stars of our stable. Both have won three times and I would like to think that their winning sprees are not over yet. 

    It was slightly surreal when they ran against each other at Roscommon last month in an apprentice handicap over seven furlongs. They sat first and second throughout and were embroiled in a thrilling tussle the whole way up the home straight. Tom Dooley prevailed by a short-head from Alans Pride and there was a yawning gap back to the third. That was a night I will never forget. 

    Tom Dooley was rated 46 when he arrived here but I knew from the first time I saw him work that he was not related to a horse rated in the 40s. He was much better than that and I told his owner that we might just have struck it lucky. 

    He is a great little character and his work has been great from day one. You always need a bit of luck and we were fortunate that he quickly began to enjoy his routine here. He was a happy horse and followed up that aforementioned narrow win at Roscommon with victories at Leopardstown and Fairyhouse. He won three times in 13 days. What a little legend!

    Alans Pride is another who worked better than his rating when he arrived here. He had a mark of 52 last winter but he fell into the routine nicely and seems to love the place. All we have done is kept on training him and he has relished it. 

    He won for a third time for us at the Curragh earlier this month under a terrific ride from Gary Halpin. The problem now is that he has gone up 6lb for that success and he is up to a mark of 71 which will make life tougher. However, he is loving his racing and here's hoping that there is another win or two in him. 

    Rewind to January and we just had three horses in training. My aim at that stage was to have three winners. We then upped our team to four so the aim was to have four winners and so on. Needless to say that we have exceeded expectations and long may that continue. 

    Patrick, who arrived from Richard Fahey's stable, won on his debut for us at Dundalk in February, while our other winner in 2017 was Khabaray who did the business at Dundalk in March and again at Leopardstown in May. 

    I am originally from Kilmaley in west Clare. I rode as an amateur jockey when I was younger, badly! Horses were always a big part of my life and, while I was always going to train one day, I thought it was important to have something to fall back on so I studied to become a dentist. 

    Between 2011 and 2014 while my wife Norma was completing her training as an oral surgeon, I spent three or four days a week in the David O'Meara stable. Everything I know now is down to my time with him. He was a brilliant mentor and is a great friend. Even now, when I have a decision to make, I try to put myself in David's shoes and think what he would do in the same situation. 

    We bought our current yard in Ballingarry in 2015 and took out my training licence in December, 2016. We have 12 stables but the plan would be to extend in the next 12 months. We simply need to keep the momentum going and keep growing. You have to be ambitious in this game. 

    I am 38 years of age now so I would like to think that the future is bright. Norma has been hugely supportive from day one and my father, Willie, has been paramount to my progress too. 

    I was told from an early stage that you need to surround yourself with talented people to make a go of things and in Katherine Dalton we have found a diamond. To be perfectly honest, I am just the name on the licence who keeps an eye on things. She is the main woman around here. She does everything and we would be absolutely lost without her. She is the engine that keeps things motoring. 

    We've put together a nice little community here and everyone seems happy, most importantly the horses. We all get a great kick out of it and every winner we have widens the smile on all of our faces. 

    The horses-in-training sales are around the corner so that will be another chance to grow our team. It is an exciting time here in Ballingarry. We have only ran seven horses in total in 2017 so to have nine winners is a decent return. 

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