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My Racing Story

My Racing Story

Danny Sheehy

Wed 8th May 2019, 12:40

Danny Sheehy
©Healy Racing Photos
Any day you get a double as an apprentice is a very good one and to do it so early in the season at Gowran Park on Sunday was a big boost for me. Winners are hard to come by in Ireland so you have to be very grateful when they come.

Lady Scathach provided the second leg but though she was a 33/1 shot, Tom McCourt thought she was a good horse that had worked very well. He was surprised she hadn’t won yet.

I had ridden her over a mile and three in Limerick but when she stepped back in trip to a mile, she just bolted up to be honest. Tom wasn’t one bit surprised that she did that from what he had been seeing.

I started in Johnny Murtagh’s a couple of months ago so it was great to get the first winner on the board for him with Insane Bolt earlier on. As a young jockey in the early days of my career at 19, it is great to be with Johnny. He was a brilliant jockey and you couldn’t be getting better advice from any man. He’s a great trainer too, improving the quality of his yard all the time and he has a nice bunch of two-year-olds as well.

There’s a lot of good riders out there and everyone will be trying to get their share. It’s competitive but all I will do is keep the head down, work hard and try to bang in as many winners as I can.

A lot of Irish jockeys go to England because it is so hard over here but for the time being, I am happy to be here. I’m doing well enough, getting good opportunities. It’s always been a case of playing it by ear and seeing how the season goes.

I’m blessed with my weight. Both sides of my family are small so I’m very lucky! I’m about eight stone stripped most mornings, so no problems really. It’s a big advantage to be able to claim off bottom weight for those big handicaps.

Every apprentice in the weigh room would love to be champion but as I keep saying, it’s so competitive. A good few of the apprentices have great backing so for me, it’s all about working hard, keep improving from the year before, get more contacts and get as many winners as I can.

Ruaidhri Tierney has been my agent from the start and he is very good to me. He got the ball rolling early and is a major help, so I get a lot of rides from plenty of trainers thanks to him.

Growing up, I was surrounded by horses. My father, Eamonn is a trainer, my mother is a Treacy and my cousin, Tommy Treacy was a great jockey who rode Danoli. So I couldn’t escape it to be honest.

Dad had some very good horses and trained a lot of winners over the years, like Trafford Lad, Justified and Rathgar Beau, who was a brilliant horse. I was only five when Rathgar Beau beat Moscow Flyer in the Champion Chase at Punchestown in 2005.

The operation is smaller now but he still has a mixed bunch of horses, a bit of everything. The flat is competitive but the jumps is even more so but he’s keeping himself busy with some younger horses, point-to-pointers and a few for the track.

My mother made sure I did the Leaving Cert and she was right. It’s important to have because this game is a tough one and there are no guarantees. I went to school in Good Counsel in Wexford. Shane Foley and Donagh O’Connor are other jockeys who have been there.

It’s a great school and the principal there, Aidan O’Brien loves racing. He was always a good supporter of mine and you’d get away with murder. He brought us over to Aintree for the Grand National, brought us to Punchestown every year. He was great.

I came through the pony racing circuit. I started off when I was 11 with a few nice ponies and got in with good people. I rode more than 170 winners and was champion in 2015 with 70. I was at it a long time and it was a good grounding for horse racing. You develop judgement of pace and tactics, which is a big help.

I’m signed on to my father but was freelancing when I started out in 2016 and Ruaidhri was working hard for me, getting me into a good few yards. Paul Nolan gave me my first ride but Adrian Keatley got my name in the paper, got me going. He gave me my first winner, Rahyah at Dundalk. I finished that year with five.

Winning a handicap in Galway on Jet Streaming for Adrian on Galway Plate day was a day to remember and we had already won at Leopardstown by then too. I finished that year with 14 winners, 13 of them in the turf season.

Last year was an improvement again with 16 winners over the calendar year. Winning a premier handicap at the Curragh on Soffia was brilliant, definitely the highlight for me so far with hopefully more to come. I’m very grateful to Eddie Lynam for putting me up on her. She’s a really nice filly. Eddie and Sarah Lynam have both been very supportive. I’m up there three mornings a week and they both have nice bunches of horses.

My younger brother Mikey will hopefully be joining me soon. He is still in school. He has his Junior Cert this year. As you can imagine he’s studying very hard!

He got a bad fall pony racing last year and hurt his neck. He has a check-up in the next couple of weeks. Touch wood, he’ll get the all clear and should get his apprentice licence before the end of the season.

As for me, I won’t look too far ahead. I will just keep working hard, trying to meet people and make contacts and see where that takes me. Everyone’s goal is to get to the top and be the best. Everyone is doing that hard work so you need a lot of luck along the way too.

Right now, I can’t complain and I’ll keep doing my best.

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THE IRISH TIMES