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My Racing Story

My Racing Story

Peter Flood

Peter FloodPeter Flood
© Photo Healy Racing

Everybody knows just how competitive Irish racing is at the moment but I absolutely love being involved in the sport and between training a few myself for point-to-points and working in Gordon Elliott’s five days a week, I probably have the best of both worlds at the moment.

Point-to-point is the grassroots and it’s where I would have been brought by my mother and father growing up and even to this day, if we have runners or not, that is where you would spend most weekends.

I did ride a bit but from the very start I was always fighting a losing battle with the scales and while I did it for as long as I could and thoroughly enjoyed it, I had to admit defeat after a couple of seasons. There were some highlights along the way though and riding Seabass to win an Open was certainly the pick of them.

I rode five winners when I had my licence and he was one of them so that was a great ride to get and the same season I won on him he went on to be favourite for the Aintree Grand National and finished third so there’s plenty of fond memories.

Everything is a bit easier when you are able to eat however and my job now of riding out, training a few point-to-pointers and pre-training horses for Gordon Elliott gives me a great kick.

Sure Gordon’s record speaks for itself and there’s not much more you can say about him that hasn’t already been said but he’s very good to me to give me the opportunity to pre-train some of the horses for him.

We don’t do much with them, we’d get them from the sales or after their break and just get them cantering for a few weeks and get them ready to go into his yard basically but you just never know what you are getting your hands on so watching them progress gives everyone around the place a great interest.

We just have a small yard in my home place just outside Kilcock and my mother, Theresa, and father, Brian, would be a big part in what we do and it’s very enjoyable for them to watch the horses go on to race on the track or at the big festivals. Labaik and Fayonagh both came to us from the sales and we did a small bit with them before they went to Gordon’s and it’s a pity we’ll never know how good either of those could have been.

My typical day would start at 6am when I’d muck out and feed the horses in the yard at home here and then I’d go to Gordon’s and ride out three lots and be finished by around 10.30am before getting back home to get the horses there out. I have great help around the place and would be lost without the likes of Barry Browne, Anthony Fox and Declan Lavery who all come in after they finish work and ride out for me. Lads like Kevin Darcy and James Reilly would never see you stuck either and my girlfriend Zoe is a primary school teacher but would give a dig out at the weekend. We’d be a small operation but it’s all hands on deck and it works well.

Gordon keeps us busy and that is the bread and butter, pre-training the horses for him and making sure that you hand them over in the best shape possible after a few weeks but you’d never stop learning off that man. Just to ride out the three lots there and be around all the good horses in the yard like Samcro and these calibre of horses, it’s just a learning curve the whole time. And not just Gordon to be fair but the staff as well, Simon, his headman would be a great person to talk to if you had an issue with a horse and in Gordon’s you have all types of horses, big, small, weak, keen, lazy, point-to-pointers, Grade 1 horses and now two-year-olds, so every day is a learning day and you can never know enough about this game.

I’m happy enough to do that job for Gordon and trick around with a few point-to-pointers but you never know some day where it would come in handy to have learnt some of the things you learn from being involved in that set up.

This season I have run four of my own and had two winners. Star Wizard won at Dowth Hall on Sunday which was great and Got The Nac won the Open a couple of weeks ago and has since been sold. We’ll be disappointed to see him go but it was nice to get him to win such a good Open on his first start for us and that’s part of what we do, buy them and sell them on.

It’s what I thought I’d be doing with Ourmanmassini last year too but thankfully that didn’t happen and he developed into the Champion Point-To-Pointer. I trained him as a four-year-old and sold him to England where he won a bumper and I always followed him closely after that. He didn't win again but was always consistent and when I found out he was in the horse in training sales I thought I’d take a chance and try get him back. We got him for €3,200 and thought he’d be a fun horse and I suppose you could say now that was an understatement!

After he won for us, my aunty, Niamh Finnan, bought him and I just tried to find the most suitable races for him and in fairness to the horse he kept trying for us and went on to win eight races and be champion horse and to be honest, that is my pinnacle. For me, that is the height of it.

Of course, like anyone in point-to-points, you want to buy a three-year-old and sell him after winning a four-year-old maiden but that market is gone so tough now that you can’t expect to do that. But I remember going racing and watching horses likes Top Twig and Nedzer’s Return just turn up and win week in, week out, so to have a horse that was able to do that and be champion horse was incredible really. My aunty lives in New York but was home to see him when he sealed the title and we all got a great kick out of it.

Ourmanmassini is back now and I’ll just wait until I get a bit of nice ground for him and try and win another few with him but nobody will ever take last season away from us.

Being involved in Gordon’s and doing my own horses at home makes for long days but this is a job that I’d hardly call work, because I absolutely love it and love being around the likes of Gordon and the horses he has so hopefully we can keep it going for a while longer.

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