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My Racing Story

My Racing Story

John Shinnick

John Shinnick pictured with Colin Keane during his time with Ger LyonsJohn Shinnick pictured with Colin Keane during his time with Ger Lyons
© Photo Healy Racing

I’ll turn 21 this summer and I’m from Glanworth near Fermoy. My family are dairy farmers and I’m back living at home at the moment which I enjoy. It’s nice to have the family support behind me. I’m full-time with Enda Bolger who I joined last August and his place in Bruree is about 40 minutes from home.

I’m very close to my brother Andy and we both got ponies when we were quite young. I was six when I got my first pony. We went out with the local hunts and there was a sort of race over the last mile or so, one for the bigger horses and one for the ponies, when we were drag hunting. That was great fun and I used to get competitive on my pony and it kind of got me thinking about racing and being a jockey. I played hurling and football for the local club in Glanworth but the horses started to become the main thing for me.

When I was fifteen, I spent a few weeks with Brendan Holland who runs Grove Stud in Fermoy and he organised for me to go up to Ger Lyons. I did a couple of weeks there and, once I finished my Junior Cert, I did the ten-month jockeys’ course at RACE. I was sent out on work placement to Michael Halford’s yard during my time on the course. Then I went back to Ger who signed me on as an apprentice and they were all very good to me at the yard. I stayed with Andrew Duff and Colin Keane and Gary Carroll were always on hand to advise me as well as Ger and his brother Shane. I got to know Sam Ewing there as well and we’d be good friends.

I rode my first winner at Navan in April 2019 on Handsome Maverick for Donal Kinsella and had two winners for Ger later that year. Unfortunately I had a fall riding yearlings for Gerry Keane the following winter and broke my pelvis. Things got a bit quiet for me after that in terms of getting rides and I decided to give England a shot.

Again Brendan Holland was very helpful and arranged for me to go over to Kevin Ryan’s yard in Yorkshire. I went over in February 2021 and Kevin gave me plenty of opportunities and put me up a few times on a good sprinter called Major Jumbo. I rode a couple of winners on the all-weather and I was living with Oisin McSweeney from Newbridge who had also moved over to work in Kevin’s yard. My weight was creeping up though and I was having to do a lot of wasting. I’d be going racing with Oisin and whereas he’d be eating something on the way to the meeting, I’d be there with my tongue hanging out.

I decided to return to Ireland and give myself a bit of time to readjust. I had been over to Enda’s place to have a spin over the banks, which I loved every minute of, before I went to England. He was good enough to give me the opportunity to work there. I’m learning a lot and the horses do something different every day because there are different places to go and different obstacles to jump.

L'impertinent and John jumping the last at BallinrobeL'impertinent and John jumping the last at Ballinrobe
© Photo Healy Racing

I’ve had about ten rides over hurdles and it was great to get my first winner on L’impertinent at Ballinrobe last week. I’d been riding him a good bit at home and he takes a bit of knowing. Luckily I was able to get away out in front and nothing took me on which was a big help as he doesn’t like horses around him. He should make a nice chaser in time. I’ve only had the one ride over fences so far and I’m looking forward to getting a few more. I’ve a great teacher in Enda. I got plenty of texts congratulating me after the winner including from Colin Keane and Gary Carroll.

Enda lets me off two mornings a week and I go to John Ryan’s on a Tuesday and to James Nash on a Thursday. I go into Michael Hourigan’s at lunchtime the odd day as well. Garry Cribbin is my agent and hopefully things will pick up after that first winner over jumps. I still have my Flat licence too.

I was involved as an owner, along with my brother, in a horse called Men of Dreams who we bought as a foal. He had some good runs when I rode him as a two-year-old for Gerry Keane before we sold him on to Johnny Levins. He was just touched off at Cork last year and hopefully will win a race or two for his new connections. I said to my brother that we must find ourselves a jumps horse the next time.

I’m going to give it a hundred per cent to try and keep improving as a jockey and I’m looking forward to the summer. Hopefully I'll have more opportunities to show what I’m capable of and I’ve great people around me to give me help and advice.

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