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My Racing Story

My Racing Story

Matthew Smith

Fri 29th Nov 2019, 14:16

Matthew Smith pictured with his son James and jockey Billy Lee after One Cool Poet won 3 times at Galway
©© Photo Healy Racing

We have had some good fun this year already with One Cool Poet but it is very exciting now to have Ronald Pump competing in the Grade 1 Bar One Racing Drinmore Chase at Fairyhouse on Sunday. He’s ready to roll and in good form.

I bought him in the August Sale at Tattersalls as a three-year-old for €1,000 three years ago. He was cheap but I liked his page and there was just something about him. It was small money so we took a chance.

We brought him to a schooling race in Thurles early as a four-year-old, around February or March, and he showed plenty of ability, but he was just a bit excitable early on. He was losing the plot really, boiling over, getting himself worked up.

He’s calmed down as time has gone on but there are certain things you have to do with him. If you hop up on him, he won’t just walk straight out of the yard. You just have to mess around a bit with him. There are just a few little things you have to do but once you know him he’s grand. And Robbie Power, who rides on Sunday, won on him last year so that is no problem.

He won four of his last five races over hurdles, which showed the progress he had made temperamentally. We didn’t really push to see how far he could go in that sphere. He won a handicap off of 136 over hurdles and would probably be around 150 over fences now, give or take a pound, so I don’t really know how good he is over hurdles.

He looked fairly good in his beginners’ chase at Fairyhouse when he won by eight lengths but I suppose Sunday will tell us what he might do over fences. He has always jumped well.

We had no real options only to take in this race on his second chase start. You could have gone to England for a novice chase but we didn’t really want to go travelling with him at this stage in his development, not yet. There’s nothing else here for him before Christmas unless you dropped back to 2m1f for a Grade 2 in Navan. There aren’t too many places you can go.

There is stiff opposition as you would expect this weekend. Samcro and Fakir D’Oudairies were top class over hurdles and won their debuts over fences well. Burrows Saint won the Irish Grand National last April.

But Ronald Pump doesn’t have to win to have run a good race and for us to leave happy. He stays three miles — three of his hurdle wins were over that distance. If he ran a good enough race that would warrant running him in the three-mile Grade 1 at Christmas, we’d be very pleased, because he obviously stays.

The lads in the Laois Limerick Syndicate that own him are great. Dave O’Sullivan was involved in a horse I had when I started, Run Sally Run. She wasn’t any good and they fell away. I bumped into Dave in Kilbeggan, not long before I bought Ronald Pump, and he was talking about maybe getting involved in something again. So I bought three at Tatts at that sale. Dave got a couple of lads together and they picked Ronald and the rest is history.

They’ve had great fun. It’s a fairytale really to buy a horse like that for a thousand euro and to be running in a Grade 1, already after winning a lot of prizemoney. Hopefully there’s more to come.

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THE IRISH TIMES