Noel Meade: 'Always hoping you’ll have a Grade 1 horse keeps you motivated'

"I wanted to be a jockey but as I was not any good, I had to change my mind."
Noel Meade: 'Always hoping you’ll have a Grade 1 horse keeps you motivated'

Q: What was your childhood ambition?

A: I wanted to be a jockey but as I was not any good, I had to change my mind.

Q: Growing up, who was your sporting hero?

A: Tom Dreaper.

Q: Do you have a mentor?

A: Not really but I have a few very good friends over the years who have been a great help to me. Two of those who are not with us anymore were Noel Keating and John O’Meara.

Q: What or where is your happy place?

A:  Watching fast horses coming up the gallop on a sunny day.

Q: What sparked your love of racing?

A: I just was horse mad from day one even though nobody in the family had anything to do with them.

Q: What horse put you on the map?

A: There are three that would stand out: Sweet Mint won at Royal Ascot in 1978. Our first runner at The Royal meeting and a winner! Pinchhitter won two Galway Hurdles which were very special while Steel Duke won the Savel Begs Stakes and won a stack of races at various Galway Festivals, a race-meeting I love.

Q: Who is your favourite horse?

A: Harchibald. He won five Grade 1 races for us including two Christmas Hurdles at Kempton and two Fighting Fifth hurdles at Newcastle. He was beaten by a nose in the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle in 2005 – the dual champion hurdle winner was ahead of him (Hardy Eustace) and a champion hurdle winner in waiting was behind him (Brave Inca). It is one of the best Champion Hurdles I have ever seen.

Q: Describe the feeling of training your first winner?

A: I actually rode my first winner; it was a horse called Tu Va in Wexford in 1970 and it was the best feeling you can imagine! I named my yard after him.

Q: What is your most memorable racing moment?

A: I think it was Pinchhitter winning my first Galway Hurdle in 1981, his owner, Finbarr Cahill, was a great pal of mine, and still is...he knew how to celebrate it!

Q: What is your favourite racecourse in Ireland?

A: Navan of course, followed by Fairyhouse.

Q: If you weren’t a trainer what would you be?

A: I think the answer to that is “very hard to live with”.

Q: If you could train one horse, what would it be?

A: Nijinsky on the flat and Kauto Star over jumps

Q: How do you cope with pressure?

A: Barry Geraghty says pressure is for tyres.

Q: How do you stay motivated?

A: I just love what I do, watching young horses come along and always hoping you’ll have a Grade 1 horse keeps you motivated.

Q: How do you deal with dips in form?

A: I try not to think about it too much.

Q: Can you give us a Netflix/film recommendation?

A: The Last Czars

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

A: A nice bottle of red!

Q: Desert island discs – name your favourite three songs?

A: ‘And When I die’ by Blood, Sweat & Tears;

‘I believe in you’ by Don Williams;

‘I’ve never been to me’ by Charlene.

Q: What person do you admire the most and why?

A: J.P. McManus - He gives so much to so many people and much more than people ever know. He has been lucky enough to make a lot of money, but he does spread it around.

Q: Favourite dinner?

A: A medium rare T-bone steak with Kerr Pinks and my wife, Derville’s cauliflower cheese, with a nice bottle of red.

Q: Where is your favourite place to go on holidays?

A: I like going on holidays in Ireland - I love Galway and Kerry, and abroad I like Italy.

Q: What ambitions do you still have?

A: I would love to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Champion Hurdle.

Q: What is the hidden gem of County Meath?

A: The lovely green grass! I hear people talking about the beauty of Connemara but give me green fields any day of the week.

Q: When you think of your home what immediately springs to mind?

A: Happiness - I adore where I live!

Q: How are you occupying your time during the Covid-19 restrictions?

A: We have about 30-35 flat horses in training which takes up most of the morning, then painting and doing general maintenance around the yard and House.

Q: If you had one piece of advice for everyone during these worrying times of Covid-19, what would it be?

A: Stay safe and follow the advice no matter how difficult it is - the advice is for your own safety.

Q: If you were to go back to when you were 20 years old and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

A: Give yourself plenty of time to think about any important decision you will have to make!

Q: Favourite saying/quote?

A: Enjoy life - You’ll be dead for millions and millions of years!

Source: HRI

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