Richard O'Brien: Having a go.....
In December 2016 I realised a long-held ambition and was granted a license to train under the rules of racing. My life has been defined by my interest in horses and horseracing. I rode as an amateur in my late teens and early twenties with limited success. Well, one success, a confined maiden point to point win at The Pigeons that took over 10 minutes to complete.
I trained and worked as a dentist when my riding career sputtered to a standstill. During this time, I continued to pursue a solid grounding in the art and science of training racehorses.
During a five-year stint in the UK from 2011 I became involved with the David O’Meara stable in Yorkshire. He was gathering the momentum that has seen him cement his position in the top 10 trainers in the UK. This was a massive eye opener for me. What he was doing was extraordinary for its simplicity and for the effect it was having on previously moderate handicappers, or formerly useful types that had lost their way. This was what I wanted to do and this was the way I wanted to do it. David and I became friends during this time and he continues to mentor me, helping with lots of unique situations that you only face when you’re the one making the final decisions.
My wife and I bought a farm in Ballingarry, Co Limerick, and set about developing it for the purpose of training racehorses. We returned from the UK in September 2016 and between her work, the kids and the yard, we haven’t seen each other since! We are a small yard with ambitions to become big. We focus on the little things, the daily grind, all the repeated steps that characterise great animal husbandry and all the successful yards. We get the horses into a good daily routine that they enjoy, keep them healthy and run them plenty. The rest is taken care of with grit and plenty of optimism.
Observing the success of the juggernaut yards of Irish and British racing suggests that individual attention can be overstated as a selling point of small yards. Undoubtedly, as an owner in a small yard, the individual attention, access to the yard and those closest to the horses will be greater. Keep us in mind, our ambitions are aligned!