It was great to be among the winners on Friday night and I
suppose it was only appropriate that my first one back would be at Dundalk.
I’ve had great luck there from the start of my career and hopefully there will
be plenty more winners in the months to come.
I only started with Joseph O’Brien on the previous Monday
and I could hardly believe that I’d be riding a winner just five days later. There
was a bit of panic on Thursday morning when Joseph told me I’d be riding Ligeti
as I hadn’t fully finished applying for my licence. But the girls in the office
at Piltown couldn’t have been more helpful and they sorted things out with
Richard Hayden in the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board in plenty of time for me to ride at the
I’m pretty familiar with Dundalk and have enjoyed plenty of
success there. I rode the first winner of my career at the track in March of
2014. I was with Michael Halford at the time but it was Jimmy Lambe who gave my
very early winners. Boughtforasong was the very first of them and exactly a
week later I got a second for Jimmy on a horse called Revolution. Four of my
first five wins came on the all-weather and only a winner at Leopardstown broke
the sequence. Not a bad way to start off as a 16-year-old!
In all, I rode 38 winners on the Flat in Ireland, 12 of them
at Dundalk, and seven in Britain before I decided to give the jumps a go. I was
just beginning to struggle with my weight a little and at the time, it was
definitely the right road to go down. But I had some great days before heading
off the England with nice back-to-back winners at the Galway festival in my
first year including a premier handicap win on Tony Martin’s Artful Artist in
front of a huge crowd on the Friday night.
I spent a little under a year and a half with Neill
Mulholland and he was very good to me, giving me plenty of rides and ten
winners, all over hurdles. The biggest probably came one day at Ascot and I
just missed out on one at Cheltenham where I finished second. I had a handful
of rides over fences but no joy.
But my weight has come back right and it only makes sense to
revert back to what I know best. I’m back in a position to give the Flat
another go and with Joseph O’Brien, I’m definitely with the right man. I’ve got
Shane Foley to thank for the link-up, he had a chat with Joseph and told me to
give him a call. I lived with Shane when I was first starting off and I’m back
with him now in Kildangan. It’s only an hour to Piltown in the morning and the
commute is no bother. When the winter comes, I might think of basing myself a
little closer to Joseph’s. Shane’s girlfriend Lorraine probably won’t want me
to go but it might make sense when the weather turns against us.
Joseph’s set-up is unbelievable. There are horses
everywhere, every type you could imagine, from chasers to two-year-olds. There
is a lot going on. It’s all very organised, everything runs so smoothly and
everyone knows their job.
The size of each lot is pretty mind-blowing. There could be
30 or 40 pulling out at the same time, 20 is the maximum I would have seen
before. But you get used to it pretty quickly. I probably ride out five every
morning. Kick-off time is at seven.
Not in my wildest dreams did I think I would have a winner
ridden for Joseph already. Heading to Dundalk on Friday, I thought Ligeti had
an each-way chance. He was never out of the first two at the track and
certainly knows his way around. He got in nicely from a wide enough draw and we
sat about fifth all the way around. That was the plan and when I pulled him out
at the top of the straight, he picked up pretty well. They were spread across
the track late on but we lasted home quite well. It’s a long way home at
Dundalk but having such a willing partner, one that will stick their neck out
for you, certainly helps. Ligeti carries some very famous colours and it was
great to get a winner in them at the first attempt. It should help get me
And I suppose that’s what it’s all about. It’s not as if I’m
starting again. I never stopped riding winners, it’s just they were in a
different country. My time in England allowed me get my weight back down so it
makes sense to turn my attention back to the Flat. A few more Ligetis and I’ll
be well on my way.
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