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My Racing Story

My Racing Story

Adrian Joyce

Adrian pictured with Colin Keane at Dundalk in November 2021Adrian pictured with Colin Keane at Dundalk in November 2021
© Photo Healy Racing

I'm from Curraghboy between Athlone and Roscommon, I'm 10 miles from Athlone and 12 miles from Roscommon town. I got into racing from showjumping originally. I did a good bit of showjumping as a kid into a teenager. I jumped all around Ireland with them and had great fun. It developed from there for me to go to RACE (Racing Academy and Centre of Education) as a 15-year-old. I wasn't a fan of school so that was my option to get out of school!

I then went as a conditional jockey to Francis Flood in Grangecon as a 17-year-old. That was my first proper job in racing. I learned a lot from Francis, he was a great teacher. I rode my first few winners for Francis and rode a couple of winners on a mare called Shivermetimber at Punchestown for him. I worked there for three years.

I moved on to Tom Taaffe. I rode a lot of good winners for Tom - I won couple of races on In The High Grass in Gowran Park and Cork. Tom was very good to me and gave me a really good opportunity as a young rider coming along. I won the Paddy Power Steeplechase on Cane Brake in 2006. He would have been my biggest winner.

My biggest regret in my jockey career was injuries. Every time I was going well riding winners and riding for lots of people and I'd get an injury. I had numerous surgeries on my left arm and every time I got a fall it was always broken. I didn't really have the tutoring to even know much about what I was doing when I was riding. I was never brought up with racehorses and I was kind of finding my own feet as a jockey.

Things went quiet with Tom, so I decided to move to Evan Williams in Wales. I was there for three months and I really loved it over there. I was only over there two or three days and he sent me to Plumpton for three rides. When I was over in Wales, my next-door neighbour in Curraghboy was diagnosed with terminal leukaemia, and he was like a father figure to me growing up, so I decided to come home to mind him really as he hadn't long to live. I came home and never went back to the UK. That was nearly the end of my riding career, I was riding very little after that.

I had a yard at home and I was tipping away with a couple of point-to-pointers and had a good few winners in point-to-points and sold a few on. I was finding my feet and trying to get into the way of training. I started training and Blastofmagic was a good horse for me. He was very cheap, we bought him out of David Dennis' for 500 euro for Sean Dalton who was a good owner for me. He won a couple of races for me. I had 10 or 12 horses and, between the UK and Ireland, I probably trained 30 winners in three or four years on the track with them. I really enjoyed training.

Things were quiet and I had no real profile horse to take me to the next level. It was down to financial reasons that I finished training. Financially to keep going as a small trainer in Ireland is next to impossible. I have great respect for small trainers who are trying to keep going - it's hard when you are paying staff with a small number of horses and taking on top-class horses. If you have five bad runners, you are basically written off. You don't have the ammunition to go and pull out another one the following day to win.

Adrian holding the Paddy Power Chase trophy after Cane Brake's win in 2006Adrian holding the Paddy Power Chase trophy after Cane Brake's win in 2006
© Photo Healy Racing

I would have spoken to Ger O'Leary a few times at the races and then I went and sat down with him for a couple of hours one day. After I spoke to him, I told him I'd love to come and join with him. Ger was looking to expand a little bit more and get help to do that. I jumped at the chance straight away because I knew how difficult it was going to be for me to make a living with horses in Curraghboy. I went straight in as assistant trainer. We got off the mark fairly quickly with a couple of runners in the UK. We get on very well together and we have a wonderful team of staff. Ger is top-class to work for and he listens to what I have to say and vice versa. We work well together. I'll be three years with Ger in October.

We have 29 horses in at the minute including three National Hunt horses. We took the approach this year that we have a lot of older horses and two-year-olds from last year who haven't run. They are three-year-olds now and we have a good bit done with them to get them out (racing). We want to focus on them and we hope to go to the breeze-up sales this year and purchase a few two-year-olds. That is the path we have taken. It is a change of approach with the two-year-olds this season.

In terms of targets, it is the number of winners that would interest us. I would love to think that we could hit 20 winners from January to December. That would be our main goal. Our main owner is Lance Bloodstock who own Real Force and I'm minding him like a baby! He is the one that I know has the ability to go and do it on the big stage. He is the horse that could get us black-type this year. Last year we had to stop with him, we only got one run with him. He got an injury in Cork and that put him out for the full season. We have given him plenty of time. We would be surprised if we don't pick up a Listed or Group 3 with him this year, he's a very talented horse. We would love to attract another good client who would have a goal of having Listed or Group performers.

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