• In The Stables with Shane Kelly

    I’m enjoying race riding more now than I ever did before. I certainly appreciate everything far more these days. And riding winners certainly helps. 

    May went well for me. There were 19 meetings with Flat racing during the month and I rode at 11 of them. Four winners, three for Michael O'Callaghan and one for Lee Smyth was a great return. I had a double at Dundalk three weeks ago and that was pretty special. To ride one winner at a meeting is difficult enough!

    Just to get back riding last year was a bonus. It isn’t much of a secret, but I was out of the game for a while after failing a drugs test in August of 2015. I appealed the suspension and was back in the saddle in July of last year. The Turf Club have kept a close eye on me since. Looking back, they treated me very fairly. Dr McGoldrick has been a big help. All the jockeys will say that. 

    And he’s not the only one. Michael O'Callaghan and his fiancée Siobhan have been unbelievable. They were great when things were going bad for me and I couldn’t believe how well they stood by me. We have a great relationship to this day. They are friends as well. Michael is a great man to talk to. We chat about everything. 

    I picked Michael out as someone going places a couple of years back and was delighted when we teamed up. My brother Daniel had worked with Michael when he was starting off with the breezers and that’s how I got to know him. Before I moved to Crotanstown, I worked with Michael Halford, who was great, but to be honest there were too many lads with him and most of them were in ahead of me. It was difficult to make the breakthrough there. I rode winners for Michael Halford but it was time to move on when I did. 

    I graduated from RACE back in 2008 and was sent to Eddie Harty and signed on with him as an apprentice. But I fancied a change of scenery and headed off to England and joined up with John Quinn who I rode my first winner for on a horse called Bollin Freddie at Beverley in June of 2010. In all, I rode 43 winners in England. I was flying through my claim and I enjoyed it over there with John and then with Richard Fahey. 

    But I was happy to come home when I did. I worked with Willie McCreery for a while and rode by biggest winner for him on Fiesolana in a premier handicap at the Curragh. I had seven winners for Willie and then four more for Michael Halford. 

    But things have really taken off with Michael O’Callaghan. It’s great to be riding winners for him, there have been 11 in all and many more to come, I’m sure. Michael has his horses in great form and they are all running well and he’ll train loads of winners before the season is out.

    I’ve also struck up a great relationship with Lee Smyth. His Duncan Of Scotland was half of the Dundalk double but he disappointed a little when we brought him to Ayr last week. I’m sure Lee will get him back though. He’s a great man to find the right races for his horses. 

    Ruaidhri Tierney is my agent. He is easy to talk to and is another firmly in my corner. He is doing a great job for me. And Warren O’Connor is the same. I talk away with him and he’s always there too. When I was out of action, Warren was a huge help. He gave me great coaching on the simulator from time to time and there is no doubt in my mind that I’m riding better than ever before because of him. 

    We all have targets and my main aim is to ride out my claim in the next couple of years. A total of 24 more winners and its gone. I’d love to ride 15 winners this year. It’s a good enough number but once the summer season really takes off, I think it’s pretty achievable. I’m not being greedy. But I’m back on my feet and I’m going to make the most of the opportunity. 

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