The last few weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster as I’m a
jockeys agent to Flat and National Hunt riders and Colin Keane is one of the
lads I have on my books. Colin has been with me since he first took out his
licence at 16 and is now fighting it out with Pat Smullen to be champion
Things are fairly tight at the moment with Colin just five in
front but I suppose it is better to be five in front than five behind. It would
be a massive achievement if we held on but it won’t be easy.
Big credit in all of this has to go to Ger Lyons for his support.
I think both Colin and I are fully aware that neither of us would be in this
situation if it wasn't for Ger’s support and he’s been pivotal in us
challenging for the title.
I have looked after champion apprentices in the past but this is
new territory for me as an agent and for Colin too. Colin was second for the
last couple of seasons but this is a different situation and Colin is taking
each ride as it comes and that’s all you can do and give it your all between
now and the end and hopefully it will work out.
I genuinely absolutely love my job. A normal day would see me in
the office for 8am getting stuck into the entries for racing the next day and
once declaration time passes you are straight into looking at the ballot
numbers for racing three or four days in advance and then after that you have
the entries out at around 12.30pm. Between that and the end of the day you are
just continuing to dot up the week as things change along the way, like maybe a
horse no longer running or something like that.
I have been around racing since I was about 16 when I started to
work for Tom Hogan. I had a little stint in America after that and then I came
back to ride for John Murphy for a little while and I also trained for a little
bit but about six or seven years ago the agent work really started to take off
so I started to concentrate on that and thankfully it has worked out so
At the moment I’d have about 15 or 16 lads riding over jumps and
similar number on the flat and I’m quite lucky with the numbers I have. I’ve a
nice mix of some well established and experienced riders and then some good
kids coming up through the ranks.
This year has been quite a memorable one I suppose in that Padraig
Beggy won the Epsom Derby and Seamie Heffernan won the Irish Derby so they were
two fantastic days. Without a doubt it is very satisfying to see any of
the lads ride a winner but those two races are special. There’s many satisfying
elements to this job and I suppose I have worked with Colin from the minute he
got his licence so to witness, and be part of, a rider rising up through the
ranks is certainly the good side of the job.
Padraig’s win in Epsom was very much a shock and you’d look at the
race and think the horse was beaten and then nearly have to look at your Racing
Post again to see was it really him coming inside the last furlong.
I’m very lucky to have Padraig and Seamie attached to Ballydoyle.
I also do Emmet McNamara and once you have riders attached to that yard nearly
everything you ride has the potential to win and you’ll always get your turn
there and thankfully we won both Derby’s this year and that’s the way it goes -
it goes full circle and we’ll take it when we get it.
You do get trainers ringing you at times looking for them and you
may have to say that Aidan has three or four in the race but after dealing with
it for so many years you go about it subconsciously. I just find that any
trainers that enquire about a jockey, like Seamie Heffernan for example, I just
be honest with them and tell them that we think Aidan might need him and ask
them to hold out for us and 95 per cent of them will. That is the benefit of
having a big book of jockeys then because I can also offer some of my other
lads as well. Quite often lads hold fire to see what is happening and go from
Things aren’t going so bad but you always have that worry in case
you let things slip but I’m very lucky to have the lads that I have. I also
have Killian Leonard who is currently three behind Oisin Orr in the apprentice
championship and although we are fully aware it is an uphill battle, he’s
determined to give that a good rattle before the end of the season. Over jumps
it has already been a good start to the season for Sean Flanagan and I’m
delighted with how that is working out for him.
The hardest part of the job is keeping lads happy, both the
jockeys I have and the trainers I work with. It is impossible to keep everybody
happy all of the time but all I try to do is try to work as hard as I can and
keep my foot on the pedal and once one does that you can’t really do any
Come hell or high water I try to be in front of the printer every
time the entries or ballot numbers come out so being based in Kinsale makes it
difficult to get racing much but I try to get racing once or twice a month at
least. I like to be in the office and have all the relevant information to hand
but whatever happens I’ll definitely be at Naas on the last day of the Flat season
and I’ll enjoy my gin and tonic that day!
There is always new lads coming onboard. I do try to get pony
racing a couple of times during the year just to keep an eye on the youngsters
coming through and that is a circuit that has provided us with Colin Keane,
Connor King and a lot of good riders over the years and that is a massive asset
as you are getting almost ready-made riders with a 10lbs claim. Then you’ll
always have lads who may want a change but my main objective over the last
couple of years is to keep the lads I have happy.
There have been a few good days this year but the championship
battle has been such a slog for a while now that it would be quite satisfying
to get Colin over the line but there’s a bit to go yet.
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