It was fantastic to return to race riding at Listowel on Monday for the first time in 15 years and while it would have been great to mark it with a winner, and I got very close, you couldn’t give out when Mark O’Hare was retiring off the back of nailing me inside the final furlong on Jesse Evans.
So I hit the crossbar on Taylors Three Rock but it was great to return after so long away.
I was a conditional for 10 years in the late ‘90s and early noughties and rode more than 20 winners for the likes of Eric McNamara, JP McManus, Jessica Harrington, Tom Taaffe, Christy Roche and Michael Grassick.
I got back into it again through my son Calum, who has been pony racing for the last two or three years. I was watching him one day and I said to myself I’d love to give this one more crack and that’s what saw me ending up in one of my favourite racecourses this week.
I have to thank Eric McNamara a lot for giving me the ride on the mare. I’m a fireman in Rathkeale Fire Station and I go into Eric’s to keep fit, riding a couple of lots every morning.
She travelled well — she was a bit keen early. If I’d have got her to settle earlier it might have been a different story but we’ll both learn from the experience. She’ll learn and I’ll learn plenty from her. But it was a cracking run from her.
She took a fair grip early on but she did settle and was very game up the straight. She got a little tired turning in but she still picked up for me. She’s as honest as the day is long and there will be a day in her soon, please God.
We parted company in the ring before the race but she was new to the racecourse is all. She can be a bit fiery at home but I know her, I know what she’s capable of doing and I am so thankful to Eric for giving me the ride.
Calum is going down the racing route and he can follow me to the races and learn along the way, which is a great kick. He led up Blackjack Boy who won for Eric earlier in the day, which made it a great day. I am so grateful to everyone who has been involved in giving me the opportunity. It’s great to be back.
I was 10 and a half stone on Monday, claiming off 11-2. That’s probably my minimum now as I’m 6’1’’ so if I can keep my weight down, you’ll probably see more of me over the winter months.