• In The Stables with Ana O'Brien

    I can’t remember exactly what age I was when I began riding ponies. I did a lot of pony clubbing as a child and then that progressed into eventing.  I represented Ireland at eventing with Ice Cool Bailey who all of us rode. He’s retired now but I still go down to exercise him when I can. I was only small at the time but Istabraq is probably my earliest racing memory. I can always remember going down to visit him in his stable here in Ballydoyle.


    Being a jockey, even on the Flat can be considered a risky profession but I just don’t think about it. I believe you couldn’t do it right if you did. If I wasn’t pursuing a career as a jockey, I think I would still be involved in some aspect of the industry. I enjoy the breeding side of things. I’m often questioned on how I balanced horses and education but it was quite simple for me, the horses came first! I’m a female in a sport dominated by my male counterparts however it doesn’t bother me, I just get on with it.  It’s great to have Nina (Carberry) here in the yard with us every day as she’s someone I look up to. I’ve learned a great deal from my parents Aidan and Annemarie, and I would have to say that they are my two most influential mentors.


    Fairylike gave me my first win in 2013 at Dundalk. She was a lovely little filly and that winning feeling was brilliant. It was great that she was trained by Dad and owned and bred by my Mam.  She really got me going and even gave me my second win a few weeks later. I’ve gone on to ride 37 more winners including one win abroad. My trip to Bro Park Racecourse in Sweden earlier this year was a brilliant experience. I was privileged to get invited over but to get a win in the international female jockey’s race just topped it off. I didn’t know if I had won it as my horse Hi Finn got up late on the line. It was my first win outside Ireland and is something I’d consider to doing again if the opportunity arose.


    The best horses I’ve ridden on the track would be Arya Tara and Beyond Brilliance. Arya Tara made up one half of my first double last month at Leopardstown and also gave me my first black type success when winning the Listed Stanerra Stakes that night. It was a great win as it was also Joseph’s first black type win. Beyond Brilliance was a super filly as well. She ran a great race to finish fourth with me in the Darley Irish Oaks in 2014. I’ve ridden some quality horses at home too but one who I think has potential is Promise To Be True. She’s two out of two and won the Silver Flash at Leopardstown on her last start. 


    I’ve three rides in Gowran Park this evening. Joseph’s two two-year-olds Epitaph and Sweetasever seem to be nice juveniles. The filly Sweetasever is having her first run in a nursery and should run a nice race.  I also ride Pretty Love for Tom Cleary in the apprentice handicap. I don’t know too much about her but hopefully she’ll be running on at the line.


    Regarding riding out, I’m based here in Ballydoyle and ride out most of the time with Dad. I try to get over to Joseph the odd day when I can. For the rest of the season and the future my main aim is to ride as many winners as I can, to keep improving and become as strong as I can in the saddle. I’d love to win any Group 1 race. I’m enjoying the Flat so I’ve no immediate plans to go jumping. I think Irish racing is in a good state and if I could change anything, it would be to have more racing! I was delighted to be involved in the launch of Longines Irish Champions Weekend on Monday. I think it’s a great concept that can have a major impact on Irish racing. It’s a weekend of brilliant racing.



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