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My Racing Story

My Racing Story

Jane Mangan

Jane Mangan in her riding days.Jane Mangan in her riding days.
© Photo Healy Racing

The Dublin Racing Festival is almost upon us and I am in the very lucky position of being paid to witness some fantastic action, as I will be working with RTÉ’s radio team covering it on Saturday and then the television coverage on Sunday.

Working in the media wasn’t something I ever planned on doing. I met Robbie Irwin when I was riding and the radio work started from there. I was delighted to be asked to do the television, starting off in Galway last year — and no better place to start! Ted Walsh and Robert Hall really look after you and it’s great to have them beside me.

I’m a bit of an anorak anyway when it comes to racing and all you want to do after that is do the sport justice. This is a sport that generations of Mangans have made a living from so that’s important to me. A weekend like this is a real showcase and an opportunity to shine a light on a great sport.

Apple’s Jade is the star for me. In France you have De Bon Couer, in Britain you have Altior, over here we haven’t woken up to the fact that Apple’s Jade is the best here.

We rarely ask geldings to go from two to three miles in their main discipline, whether it be chasing or hurdling, never mind asking them to do it in the one season. If she goes and wins this weekend, the Champion Hurdle will definitely be on the agenda. To win a Grade One at two and a half and three miles, and then if she were to do it at two, she’s just incredible. She has only turned seven and is after winning nine Grade Ones. She’s unbelievable.

I don’t see any reason why she can’t be a Champion Hurdle horse. She’s as good as what’s out there but we’ll find out if the trip is a bit short for her at the weekend. I do think she’s better going right-handed but again, we’ll see. I wouldn’t be making excuses. If you asked me two months ago I’d have said Buveur D’Air was banker material but he’s not now. There are holes in every horse.

It has been a strange season that way and the pundits are going to have to work a bit harder at Cheltenham this year! We can’t be lazy. We’ve no On The Fringe. Last year we had Shattered Love and Presenting Percy, both absolute bankers.

The media works in and around my main job with Primus and it’s great to be able to do the two. I enjoy the bloodstock side of it with Primus and you have to have a genuine interest for it. Otherwise, when you clock off on a Friday, you wouldn’t think about it til Monday but in this game, Saturday and Sunday are the most important days of the week!

My brothers, Brian and Patrick have a keen interest as well. We have a couple of mares between us and tip away with them, and do a small bit of pinhooking as well. We’re trying to feel our way. Our parents have done it all their lives so we’re keeping our eyes open and trying to learn from them.

I have the dam of Flemenshill, Southern Skies. She’s a Dr Massini mare. Flemenshill won his point-to-point easily, beating Defi Bleu at Loughanmore. He was then sold to Colin Tizzard for £480,000 but unfortunately never made it to the racecourse. That’s the way it goes sometimes but we live in hope that we might find another like him.

I have a Getaway with Nicky Henderson at the moment, out of another Dr Massini mare Dr Sandra, called I Can’t Explain, that won at Sandown in December and has potential. There are a few more that are doing okay. Hoo Bally Diva won twice last year.

The main focus for the family at the moment is the point-to-point in Tallow on Sunday week, which we host. Between foaling mares and training horses, my dad Jimmy is trying to get that ready and it’s really what he’s concentrating on. While my parents will probably be always remembered for winning the Grand National at Aintree with Monty’s Pass as well as plenty of other big races, the point-to-point is our bread and butter. This is the grassroots of racing and it will be a very big day for us.

My grandfather Paddy bred and trained horses, my dad Jimmy took over and my mam Mary breeds horses as well and is a fabulous rider. It was all I was ever interested in and to be able to work in it was the goal.

I gave up riding a few years ago and at 25 now, it’s not a decision I regret. Of course you’d miss riding good horses but I don’t miss the driving. I did it as best as I could while I was in college. We made hay while the sun shone.

I always loved the Punchestown Festival and was lucky there. To ride a Grade One winner for David Pipe, The Liquidator, in the Champion Bumper in 2013 — you could be riding all your life and never ride a Grade One winner. And then, any winner I had for the family was always special.

It’s great to see Rachael Blackmore making the most of her opportunities now. Nina Carberry set the bar. She changed the perception of trainers and owners, that girls can be as good. Rachael is reaping the benefit of that and doing a great job, setting the bar now herself.

We operate in a great sport. People have open minds. They don’t see gender, they see talent. And whether it’s Apple’s Jade or Rachael Blackmore, they’re good enough given the opportunity.

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