I was around 11. I distinctly remember the excitement of Moscow Flyer running against Istabraq in 2000. On Christmas morning we’re up at the crack of dawn with all the horses. There’s always a great atmosphere around the yard. People love coming in to get out of the house for a few hours and avoid peeling the vegetables!
Moscow was always a big buzz but Our Duke winning the Grade 1 novice last year was great. He had only run once over fences before that and it was so exciting to see the potential he had. He showed that in the Irish Grand National then. He is coming along well now after his back operation. He has cantered a week and we’ve upped his cantering again. With that operation, they don’t stop moving, they keep walking to keep all the muscles flexible. So we are very happy with him.
Yeah. We are going in there with hopefully Sizing John, Supasundae, Jezki. Then we’ve got a very, very exciting bunch of maiden hurdle runners. A lot of our maidens have been a little bit late to come out this year. We were a little behind with them probably and then we were held up due to renovations on our gallop. The last few weeks we’ve been in full working order. A lot of the horses had been needing a run and hopefully, they’ll be in top form for Christmas.
He has done really well. He’s bucking and squealing coming in after riding out every day so we couldn’t be happier with him. Everything is geared towards the 16th of March and being at Cheltenham to defend the Gold Cup so if he was to miss a day’s work between now and the Christmas Chase at Leopardstown, we would have no problem holding off until the Irish Gold Cup in February. There is no pressure on us to run and we won’t be taking any chances. Physically though, he’s a much stronger horse this year than he was last year and in great form.
Yes, I suppose he does a little bit. Our jockey Robert Power always asks why he’s the only one with a quarter-sheet riding out when it’s cold but he likes to be nice and warm. He gets a few extra carrots. He lives about a 10-minute walk away from the house, right down the other end of the farm, where it’s really quiet. He gets a little bit anxious when there’s too much going on. He’s a lovely horse to work with. He is always trying to give you more.
It was after the Irish Gold Cup and Puppy (Power) was playing it on his phone. He loves Katy Perry. He was playing the song and he looks at John and says ‘I think he likes it.’ How you know John is in good form is that the head starts going left and right. It was going up to ninety so we kept doing it. He’s funny. Sometimes, when we’re walking in after work and I don’t have my phone or my battery is dead, he’s nearly turning around to look at me to ask ‘Where’s my music?’
When I finished college, I worked at home for six months and then I went to work full-time with Aidan O’Brien at Ballydoyle. I was trying to do my event work at lunchtime and it was just a bit too much. Then when my Dad (Johnny) got sick, something had to give so I went completely for racing. It’s been great. I had an amazing time working for Aidan for three years and I learned so much there. One thing was not to overcomplicate things. Keep everything simple and always go back to the basics.
Her energy. For someone who’s 70 years of age, I don’t know how she does everything she does. She has amazing enthusiasm for each individual horse. Be it Thursday afternoon at Clonmel or the Friday at Cheltenham, she always wants that horse to perform to the best of their ability and treats them individually.
It’s very competitive. We have a few nice ones hopefully for Christmas though.
My sister Emma, who is a major part of the team at home, will have about 25 of us for Christmas dinner at her place down the road. We have a great day. Mum loves Christmas, she gets very into it.
That’s simple. Have a winner at Leopardstown!