Riding high with jockey David Casey

A big success: David Casey has won the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup, but became a jockey because of a bet.

DAVID CASEY is one of Ireland’s top jump jockeys. He has won a string of races and titles, including the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup.

His impressive career was not because he had a passion for horses.

It started as a bet. “When I was 15, a lad I went to school with made a bet with me that I wouldn’t join the racing apprenticeship in Kildare centre, and I bet that I would. So I left school after the Inter Cert, after much negotiations with my mother and father. And the rest is history.”

While David was interested in watching races, his only experience, up until then, was riding ponies for a couple of months, when he was six or seven years old.

“I didn’t sit on a horse again until I went to the apprentice school,” David says.

Now aged 37, he is two years beyond the retirement age of the average jump jockey.

“Things are going well and I’m injury-free, at the moment,” he says.

But the prospect of injury is never far away. His medical record reveals he has broken his neck, his leg twice, his collar bone, arms, and dislocated his hip.

Like many other jockeys, Casey plays down the injuries.

“One time, I was working with Charlie Swan and he broke both his arms — which is a little bit awkward, as they say,” David says.

Married to Aine Byrne, the couple’s first child, Clodagh, was born on November 15.

* David Casey was one of the stars who lined out for the recent annual sporting gala dinner hosted by Fighting Blindness, raising €40,000 for the charity.

* Further information is available at www.fightingblindness.ie.

What shape are you in?

I’m pretty fit. Between racing, riding-out every day and also playing soccer, I keep fit.

Do you have any health concerns?

Not at the moment. I’ve had plenty of falls and injuries over the years. I’ve been told I might need a new hip, down the line, but I’ll worry about that when the time comes.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I eat lots of fish. My wife makes sure I eat plenty of it. Broccoli has also been a staple, lately.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

I have a very sweet tooth. I eat a lot of chocolate, definitely more than I should.

What would keep you awake at night?

Not a lot, generally. We have a young baby, who keeps us awake sometimes, but she is a good sleeper herself, so there are not too many sleepless nights, at the moment.

How do you relax?

Spending time with the lads, watching sports. I also play golf, when the weather allows.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Kenny Daglish, a great Liverpool soccer player, Robert De Niro, Halle Berry and, of course, my wife.

What’s your favourite smell?

I definitely say freshly baked bread.

What would you change about your appearance?

Although it’s a professional must, if I wasn’t a jockey I would change my height. I would also hang on to my hair for another few years, too.

When did you last cry?

Eleven weeks ago to the day, when my daughter Clodagh was born.

What trait do you least like in others?

Bad manners, it costs nothing to be nice, so I see no excuses for bad manners.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

I can be pretty grumpy in the morning.

Do you pray?

I have done, but not often. What would cheer up your day?

My daughter, every time she smiles, she cheers me up. And if I have a winner, of course.


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