We are delighted to bring you an interview with Irish Jockey Gary Halpin, Gary has ridden in over 1,200 flat races. We talk about the early days, his racing journey, the first winner, the big days along with his racing heroes….
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself please?
I’m 25 and am the youngest of 7! Originally from Mulhuddart in Dublin but I am currently living in Kildare with my now wife Sarah and son Jack
You are the youngest of 7 Children, why do you think it was you that got the racing bug and the others left it alone?
I always loved animals from a young age particularly horses. My brothers loves horses too, my oldest brother had done a small time with Mr Bolger when he was training in Clonsilla, which was a long time ago.
Your dad had ponies, do you remember the first time you sat on one?
Yes, my father had some ponies and horses when I was a kid, I remember getting on my first horse, I was very young at the time
From that moment, did you always want to be a Jockey or did you have another career in mind?
From as far as I can remember back I had no other plans to be anything else, I only had done my junior certificate in school so I hadn’t any qualifications to do anything else. It was a route that I was always going to go down.
Did you gain experience prior to heading into racing?
Yes I was lucky my friend worked for a farmer who had some point to pointers who was Sean Mahon I got a job with him for a couple of years before I went to John Geoghegan for a couple of years before going to race both John and Sean and there family’s were great to me and continue to be.
What route did you take to get into racing?
I went to RACE In 2010/2011 and spent 10 months there made great friends with lads, who are doing well in England like Jamie Bargary
Ciaran Gethings was massive help too.
Kevin Prendergast is a legend of the sport, how did your relationship begin?
My time with Kevin’s started through RACE back in 2011 and I have been there since. He is a great man. I have and I continue to enjoy everyday I’m there
Do you remember making your debut & how long until you rode your first winner?
Yes I remember it well it was in November 2011, the boss had 2 runners. Chris Hayes was retained by Lady O’Reilly, so he rode her runner and I rode Master Melody, I finished 2nd to Shane Foley on one of Mr Halfords.
I didn’t have to wait long, my 3rd ride was a winner on the horse I made my debut on.
Do you still split you days riding out with Kevin & Michael O’Callaghan?
No I don’t go into Micheals this year. I’m in Kevin’s, Jack Davison’s Johnny Murtaghs and Joseph O’Briens but I hope I’ll ride some for him as my current sponsors, McCarthy Insurance Group have 2 horses with him – In Facethepuckout and Formyboys
How did your relationship with Michael begin?
The first time I met Michael was through Willie Supple, he brought me to ride work for him with Fergal Lynch, back when he wasnt long training. He had couple of good fillies, Typhoon Lilly and Queen of Power
The Racing Post stats have you at 1223 rides in Ireland, of these races, which is the one that stands out the most?
There is a lot of them stand out for various reasons or have a memory to them but the couple I definitely enjoyed had to be The Line of Vastonea, Kelinni, Avenante, Tithonus all Premier Handicap winners and of course, Fresnal being my first ride at Royal Ascot
A couple of quick fire questions….
Favourite Course to ride?
It would have to be Leopardstown
Race you would love to win?
I’ll settle for any classic
Mick Kinane and Pat Smullen
OK final few questions……
Which horse PAST or PRESENT would you like to ride & Why?
Past.. would probably have to be Sea the Stars he was awesome in his runs particularly the arc and only done what he had to.
Present. I would love to ride Magical, she’s a fair mare who will always turn up. It just unfortunate to bump into Enable and still being a Irish and English Champion Stakes winner
How have you been keeping since the Lockdown was implemented?
I have been keeping busy with riding out and breeze up horses. I have been keeping my weight right and being at home with my son jack
And what will it mean to everyone to get back racing?
It will be great for everyone for trainers, jockeys, owners and the spectators but also the breeders, who will have potential winners siblings to sell in the sales.
And finally, with the news that racing will begin in the nest few weeks, can you give our readers a horse to keep an eye out for please?
I’m looking forward to Black Magic Women, she’s a fine big mare. I think she has done particularly well from 3 to 4 and there is a big day in her. Jack Davison will place her well too….
We would like to thank Gary for his time, wish him & his family all the best for the future. You can catch Gary in the near future flying down a race course in Ireland & no doubt in the winners enclosure too…
Interview by Rich Williams
Photos – Gary Halpin(Twitter) Kevin Prendergast(Racing Post)
Leopardstown(Twitter), Pat Smullen & Sea the Stars(File)