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My Racing Story

My Racing Story

Gearóid O'Loughlin

Gearóid (left) with Davy Russell and Chris Jones after Cedarwood Road won at NaasGearóid (left) with Davy Russell and Chris Jones after Cedarwood Road won at Naas
© Photo Healy Racing

These are difficult times for trainers but we know racing is only a blip in the ocean compared to what is going on around the world and in the context of health, you can’t complain.

I am fortunate too in that Killeen Glebe is Chris Jones’ farm and he is making sure everything is provided for. Our staff are still coming in because the farm still needs to be run and the horses looked after. I ride out myself and Ben Harvey comes in to school as well.

We were very lucky to finish the season on a high and get the chance to run the Ulster National, which Space Cadet won. You’d love to be building on it for the last few weeks of the campaign into Punchestown but everyone in the racing game knew it wasn’t going to last too long more. We were glad to get the Ulster National out of it, it was a great win for us and for the horse.

I have had a great education in horses. I worked with Tom Costello, Enda Bolger and Martin Brassil before becoming head lad at Jim Bolger’s. I got on very well with Jim and I think the fact that I come from a hurling background helped.

My father, Victor played for Clare and my uncle Ger, known as ‘The Sparrow’, won a couple of All-Irelands with Clare and two All-Stars as well. He was also manager of Clare. Davy Fitzgerald, who was of course a teammate of Ger’s and managed Clare to win the All-Ireland, is now Wexford manager and as we all know Jim Bolger bleeds purple and gold and hurling is a huge passion. Davy is married to my aunt, Sharon. So, we had plenty to talk about.

That was a great learning curve. I ran a yard of 25 horses and I picked up so much. I was there two years when I applied for a job Chris advertised for a pre-trainer, who would also act as assistant to Andy Lynch.

I had a great time doing that for around two years when Chris asked me to take the training licence. It was something I had wanted to do but probably was going to wait until I went out on my own. But I jumped at the chance when he asked me to do it. It has gone well.

I had dabbled away training a pointer or two while pre-training and done well with them but it was great to get the licence and to have the ammunition off Chris.

Space Cadet certainly appears to have enjoyed the regime at the farm. Horses respond to a change of scenery sometimes.

One thing I learned out of Enda Bolger’s is horses love routine in their stable environment but in their exercise, we used to do something different with them every day. I probably train a bit like that now.

Ben played a big role in it all too. He had won a point-to-point on Space Cadet and he is very good value for his seven-pound claim, even though he is only 19. He schooled Space Cadet with Mitchouka at Leopardstown after racing, before Cheltenham. I was watching him and I just thought, ‘They’re like a match made in heaven.’ He just jumps brilliant for him. It made sense so I asked Chris if he was happy for Ben to ride him in the Ulster National and he agreed to it.

It was a big win for him. He has what a lot of lads don’t have, he’s very clever and he’s down to earth. His feet are always on the ground. He’s not a drinker, he’s not going around banging his whip against his boot. He’s good and focussed.

We can look forward to more good days with Space Cadet and we learned at Downpatrick that he doesn’t need the deep ground we thought he did.

We also have Cedarwood Road, who won a listed hurdle at Naas. I’d be good friends with Sean Flanagan and himself and Noel Meade think a good bit of Beacon Edge which finished second to us. The beauty of it is my lad never came off the bridle until that day. I wouldn’t have anything to take him off the bridle here at home.

He’s really a raw horse and he can only improve and keep improving. That’s how I would see myself as a trainer, always looking to get them to the level. It’s a Gold Cup horse we want. I’m not saying he is, I’m just saying that’s the way they’d be brought along, whether they’d be good, bad or indifferent, only two or three runs as four or five-year-olds.

They tell you what they are and the cream would always come to the top but he’s been schooled over fences since he’s three turning four. I school all mine over fences when I break them. That’s the way my operation works, the same as Enda’s.

He is fairly impressive over fences but he could be quite effective over hurdles for another year. It’s a good complaint to be thinking about it.

I have Mitchouka as well. He’s had three runs for me. He won in Thurles, then he wasn’t right the day he was third back there because I had to vaccinate him for Cheltenham. Then I thought he didn’t really get put into it at Cheltenham when he finished sixth and thought he might have been third or fourth if he was.

He could be very good if he comes back to his best. He jumped brilliantly around Cheltenham for only his second handicap. He could be exciting.

I must say Andy Lynch was a great help to me and I have a great relationship with him. And having had the two years using the gallops before I began training the horses was a great help. I am really looking forward to getting going again but we will just have to be patient. Some things are more important. Flat racing will be on a month before jump racing, and we don’t know when that is coming, so we’ll just have to bide our time.

And that’s something everyone is willing to do, to make sure we get to the other side of this.

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