Shane Tierney on Coolnaleen (left) & Eoin McCarthy on Sallies Boy
©Healy Racing Photos
In a competitive four-year-old maiden at Lisronagh in early December, who'd be the most likely of these to saddle the winner – Denis Murphy, Kieran Purcell, Robert Tyner, Sam Curling, Colin Bowe, Colin McKeever, Henry de Bromhead, Martin Cullinane or Eoin McCarthy? Well if you went with the youngest of the lot, the last man named, E C McCarthy, you'd be right.
Ridden by McCarthy that day too, Sergeant Mattie was the horse that did the needful and his young handler explained: "He's a nice four-year-old and he went over to Cheltenham for the sales last weekend. He was sold for £42,000 to go into training with Charlie Longsdon and that sale will keep our show on the road for another while.
"He's 16.3, a big athletic horse and he'd always gone well at home. Northern Alliance (a Grade 2 and a Kerry National hero) is a Naheez horse like this lad and I'd say for a sire that got very little mares, he done alright. He mightn't be the most fashionable sire to go to the sales with but this is a very good-looking individual. There's a bit of presence about him.
"He loves jumping. When you'd be schooling him there, he'd see a fence coming and prick his ears. He loves what he's doing. He was always a bold jumper.
"Our Askeaton winner from the spring, Another Mattie is by Zagreb. We couldn't get him sold on the way he was bred. We ran him in two bumpers then and he ran two solid races. He was fifth both days – only beaten twelve lengths in Naas. We got him sold over to Nicholas Alexander.
"When you're buying them yourself and you're only starting out, you have to 'poke away.' Anyway you can't train paper! We just buy them as individuals.
"We bought the Zagreb (Another Mattie) for three and the Naheez (Sergeant Mattie) for one (thousand Euros).
"The horse that finished third to Sergeant Mattie, (Top Cat Henry) was rated 91, which we'll say for point-to-pointing would be a big rating.
"We had a second as well the same day with another one of our own horses. He's a Helissio five-year-old (Mattie's Passion).
"Hopefully in the spring he'll go and win his maiden because he wants nice ground. He was a big baby at home and in his first two runs we just more or less dropped him in mid-division and let him find his feet.
"The last day was the first time he really got into a race. He finished second – granted he was well-beaten – but he should get through one in the spring no problem.
"Every race that went by the ground got worse at Lisronagh as it was raining the whole time.
"We fancied Sergeant Mattie first-time out, when he was third. He ran in Tinahely, where you run downhill into a sharp bend and he kept slipping up on the bend.
"He was second and closing going to the last when he made a 'horlicks' of it."
Winners in waiting?
"Some of the horses we have coming on include a Lend A Hand (sire of course of Knock A Hand, Silverhand, Gusda, Head Waiter, Lend A Hand Son etc.) three-year-old. He's unnamed at the minute.
"We have a mare there too, Days Of Glory, she was fifth in Ballindenisk. I'd be hoping she'll get through one somewhere on deep ground.
"For the spring we actually have a few older horses that haven't run. We have a full-brother to Sigma Dotcom (won four) to run.
"We have a full-brother to Kickham (eight time winner including the Aintree bumper) to run.
"They've nothing done at all. At that stage sometimes they won't take as much time to get ready.
"We have a lovely five-year-old Morozov horse as well."
Team effort with cousin Shane Tierney
"They are mainly horses that myself and my cousin Shane (Tierney) have bought. Shane rode Another Mattie to win for us in Askeaton and he won on another one for us in Ballybunion.
"Shane and myself go halves in these horses. He was actually in Ballindenisk the day Sergeant Mattie won in Lisronagh. He went to the Cork meeting with Days Of Glory and finished sixth on her."
Days as a professional jockey
"Seamus Lynch, Michael Hourigan and Philip Rothwell supplied me with winners when I was riding as a professional.
"When the recession hit I was free-lancing. A lot of lads I was riding for went bust and you couldn't make it pay at the fees you were getting for rides.
"With rides drying up and having always had the interest in training, it seemed the normal progression to go this way.
"A lot of the rides I would have been getting were light-weights. When I wasn't getting the rides my weight was starting to move up as well.
"I was getting hit from all angles really. I'm still only twenty-four and Shane is twenty three so we've started in time at this game anyway.
"The yard is based in Listowel and I have a restricted licence for the track.
"Our better horses would be point-to-pointers. Joe Reed, our winner from Ballybunion, was placed in a maiden hurdle at Cork. He won in Ballybunion on good to firm but he never again got that ground. He wants it that quick.
"Hopefully when he comes back he'll get his ground and do well handicapping.
"The thing about the track is that you have to take on some major trainers and owners.
"There's only one in our yard that isn't for sale. We might struggle on the track but the point-to-points are a great shop-window and you'd be hoping that if you've a nice horse that you could get him sold."
"If you see any of ours named 'Mattie' you'll know that we think a bit of them. We've named four horses after Mattie, who was our grand-father. So far three of them have won and the Helissio (Mattie's Passion) was second.
"Matthew (Tierney) was our grand-father and he's passed on now. He got myself and Shane into racing. He always had a horse at home and it was through him that we picked up the interest in horses." (EM)