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My Racing Story

My Racing Story

Kieran Cotter

© Photo Healy Racing

It was some thrill to see George Cornelius winning the way he did on his first racecourse appearance at Dundalk last Sunday. We knew our horse would put it up to any of them on what we’d seen at home even though we hadn’t asked any questions and physically, he looked far superior to any of them beforehand.

He has two speeds. Go really steady slow and then bang, gone. We don’t kill him at home. He has a mammoth stride, once he gets up and going he takes a bit of stopping then.

The plan at the moment is that he will not be sold. Mark Gallagher, who rode him on Sunday, bought him and brought him into the yard for an English owner, Stuart Robinson. He had horses in big yards in England with no luck and he liked being able to come in here when it suited him, walk around the place and watch the horses work. He has four horses with us at the moment.

He will probably go for a listed race in the Curragh. We will play it by ear after that. We will just see what level he can get to. Everyone is talking about Royal Ascot. All things going well, and being sound, everyone would love to go there.

My father Bobby trained for a good number of years. His father was a creamery manager. My father came up from Kerry and built the co-op in Monasterevin that’s now Glanbia. He was the manager of that for years. He was always into greyhounds but he got out of them and into a horse. From there it developed on, and eventually he wound up training. Our first two-year-old, Shindella, won a Group 3 in Leopardstown, and she was second highest-rated filly in Ireland. She finished third in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot, so it would be absolutely great to go back there.

Dad is over the moon with what is going on at the moment. He is 83 now but he is still very active. He loves coming out to watch horses work. He got a great kick out of last Sunday.

It is not all about me in the yard though. This is a small operation so you are relying on everyone to put in the effort.

Danny Murphy is a huge part of it. We went to school together in Kildare. He has trained more than 1000 winners in Macau, Singapore, Malaysia and UAE but he packed it in to come home. He loves the relaxed nature of this place.

We have good facilities, really good gallops and Danny felt that with a bit more finance, he could make improvements, add stock and make it a really successful yard. So he joined in with me last September. He brought in owners with more firepower moneywise. That is when the turnaround came. We finished last year strongly with five winners and aim to build on that now.

Danny and Mark are good friends too, so Mark came on board as well. They bought George Cornelius for Stuart and Mark rode him then at Dundalk. There are only half a dozen of us working here and everyone plays a big part — Martin, Dylan and Damien are the other lads. David Mooney, who is beside me at Treascon Stud and owns two fillies that won a good few races for us, Polly Douglas and Dash D’Or, he chips in a bit too. We had two runners in Southwell last week and he came over to give us a hand.

I have been training in the lower divisions a long while. It is actually harder to train winners in the 45-65 bracket. I was always involved in construction but I said I would concentrate solely on training.

I would never had more than four or five horses. We have a farm here as well. You were trying to keep a lot of balls in the air. I was hiring out the gallops. Whatever was needed to pay the bills.

Last summer I was thinking that I couldn’t keep going. It was just too much work but next thing, Danny Murphy is on my doorstep and it’s the start of a bright new dawn. We have 18 horses in now and hopefully more coming after last Sunday.

I am still riding out. We were laughing about that the other day. They gave me an award for the most improved rider. They are trying to keep me going or something.

We have a smart filly by Requinto, Daughter In Law, that will hopefully run in the next fortnight. She is pretty smart. There would be another one or two early ones. We have a nice Kingston Hill colt, St George’s Head, that goes very well. And there are a few more that aren’t named yet that look smart.

It is exciting to be having nicer horses running in better races. For the whole operation to be financially viable you have to be trying to compete at that level.

The phone hasn’t stopped since Sunday, which is great. The dream is always alive with these horses.

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