Its two weeks since I won the Newcomer Award at the Irish Godolphin Stud And Stable Staff Awards and I'm still trying to get my head around it. I was very surprised to be nominated back in February but to win was just something else.
Heading down to the Newpark Hotel in Kilkenny, I had no idea that I was the winner. Not a clue. I did know that I was up against two great guys in Mark Byrne and Patrick Murray. My mum Brenda and a few of my friends came down for the ceremony and we had a great night. It was a wonderful recognition of the work we do. Brian Cody presented the prizes. I’m from Dunboyne originally and I think he was relieved when I told him that Kilkenny had nothing to fear from the Meath hurlers this year!Growing up, I had no background in horses or racing. I had a couple of lessons at a local riding school as a child but it was just a hobby back then. I spent a week with Ted Walsh as part of my transition year in school and loved it. At the end of the week, Katie Walsh told me that I would be welcome back at any time and I kept her to her word. I did a few weekends in Kill and also spent much of my school holidays there as well. When I left school, I did the level five horsemanship course that was in Pipers Hill in Naas at the time. As part of that, I spent two days a week in Ted’s and was also there every weekend. When I completed the course I went to work with Ted on a full-time basis in the summer of 2014. Undoubtedly one of the best things I ever did. I got a bad fall that November and that put paid to my hopes of starting the Irish National Stud course in early 2015. I was out of action for seven or eight months with a fractured pelvis and while it was slow enough to heel, I'm right as rain now. I finally got to do the course last year and it was fantastic. We lived in the stud and learned so much. I’d highly recommend it to anyone. The only race riding I ever did was in the charity race at the Punchestown festival. I got two spins on Collingwood in 2013 and again the following year and let’s just say I didn’t trouble the judge on either occasion. They were two brilliant days though and I’d love to give it another go. I have no ambition to ride as an amateur, I wouldn’t be good enough for that!In this game, I think you need to be learning all the time. I rode out for Michael Halford for a couple of months last summer and that was a great experience. But I’m based here in Kill ever since and I’m head girl. I’m in before 7.30 every morning and the first of my duties is to check over all the horses. It’s important that they’ve all eaten up. A few go on the walker and we begin riding out soon after and that could go on for most of the morning. The afternoons are spent checking over the horses and getting ready for the following day. We probably have about 20 in for the summer, mainly jumpers and a few for the Flat. The winter time is busier and we might have twice as many on the go. Any Second Now and Foxrock are the stars here at the moment and I'm lucky enough to look after them both. We had a great time with Foxrock earlier in the year. He won four hunters’ chases and there is loads to look forward to with him. He is out on grass with us here for his summer break but Any Second Now, which Ted trains for JP McManus, has gone back to Martinstown for his holidays. He was a very good winner of a maiden hurdle at Navan and went on to win a Grade 2 at Punchestown in January. That was a great day for us all and it’s a pity he could not add to that in two more starts last season. But again, I can't wait to get him back and he will be heading up the M7 in August all being well. And at some time in the future I plan to do some travelling myself. I’d love to do a year working with horses in America, I think it would be a great experience. I haven’t given it a great deal of thought but to work on a stud farm in Kentucky could only be a good thing to do. Maybe further down the line I would like to get into buying a few as foals and then selling them on as yearlings. I’m going to get a look at how things are done in the Middle East early next year as part of my prize for winning the Godolphin Stud And Stable Staff Award is a trip to Dubai! I’ll be heading out for Super Saturday in March and I hope to get a good look around while I'm there. It’s another wonderful opportunity. And it wouldn’t have happened if Katie Walsh hadn’t nominated me for the awards at the beginning of the year. It was a lovely thing for her to do and I really appreciate it.
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