Andrew Slattery Q&A: ‘You can’t afford dips in form — you have to try and keep on the ball all the time’

Jockey Andrew Slattery is the latest to answer our questions.
Andrew Slattery Q&A: ‘You can’t afford dips in form — you have to try and keep on the ball all the time’

WINNING FEELING: Andrew Slattery savours victory on board Jassaar last May, one of three victories he enjoyed at last year’s Guineas weekend. Picture: Caroline Norris
WINNING FEELING: Andrew Slattery savours victory on board Jassaar last May, one of three victories he enjoyed at last year’s Guineas weekend. Picture: Caroline Norris

Andrew Slattery, jockey

Q: What was your childhood ambition?

A: To be a soccer player.

Q: Growing up, who was your sporting hero?

A: Cristiano Ronaldo, I fancied myself to be as good as him.

Q: Do you have a mentor?

A: I am extremely lucky that I have a lot of help from my family, but Pat Smullen has been a massive help to me and my career.

Q: What or where is your happy place?

A: I would have to say a Chinese or Italian restaurant.

Q: What sparked your love of racing?

A: I initially got my interest from watching my cousin Ben Coen ride in pony races. I started when I was 14, which was late, and I don’t think anyone saw it coming that I’d be a jockey.

Q: What horse put you on the map?

A: I couldn’t put it down to one, as every horse has been a help to me.

Sharjah gave me half of my rides in my first year riding and he was great. Rapid Reaction gave me my first Premier Handicap winner at Naas in September 2018 and Kastasa was my first Group winner at the Curragh last September, so I’ve been blessed with nice horses.

Q: Who is your favourite horse?

A: Kastasa. We have won four races together, in one of which she narrowly edged out Sharjah.

It’s really hard to pick a favourite because I really enjoy riding horses that I sit on at home or ride at work and you get to know them.

Q: What was it like to ride in your first race?

A: My first ride was on Feotanach at Limerick Racecourse in October 2017 and it was class. Riding against the top jockeys you are always watching on TV was unbelievable.

Q: How long does it take to learn race-riding tactics?

A: I am not too sure, you kind of have to let the horse do the storytelling. You can only ride a race where your horse will take you in their comfort zone. Your own judgement is used, I would like to think that I am getting the hang of it.

Q: Describe the feeling of riding your first winner?

A: My first winner was Sharjah for my father Andy (Snr) on December 15, 2017. I was ecstatic, I can’t remember what I said after the race in the debrief. I can just remember crossing the line the joy that it brought, especially to have my first winner on a family horse and stable favourite. I felt like I was on top of the world.

Q: What is your most memorable racing moment?

A: I would have to say riding a treble on Guineas weekend in 2019. To be leading rider with Ryan Moore on Guineas weekend at the Curragh was an unbelievable feeling. Also, it was my first time teaming up with Mr Weld and my first two rides for him that weekend were winners in valuable races. It was unreal.

Q: What is your favourite racecourse in Ireland?

A: The Curragh.

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

A: I am not too sure to be honest; I have a good Leaving Certificate behind me but that is not saying I would be any good at anything. No doubt it would be something to do with the horse racing industry anyway.

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

A: Frankel, he was just class.

Q: How do you cope with pressure?

A: I usually don’t get pressured too easy. I read through races a lot, so I’d say that adds to me playing down the pressure.

Q: What mental preparation do you do for the big days?

A: You have to prepare for the big days the same as the small days or else you are at nothing. I always do a lot of homework on races, no matter if they are big or small.

Q: How do you stay motivated?

A: Riding good horses keeps every jockey motivated but I like looking back on my winners and that kind of keeps the buzz going. Unfortunately, it is very seldom everyone gets to ride good horses, so you just have to keep working hard and hoping things happen.

Q: How do you deal with dips in form?

A: You have to try and grab the problem before it goes too far because there is so many good jockeys in Ireland now, you can’t really afford dips in form — you have to try and keep on the ball all the time.

Q: Outside of racing, what is your favourite sporting moment?

A: I suppose being from Tipperary and Killenaule, hurling is a big thing here so I would have to say Tipperary winning the All-Ireland in 2016 was brilliant, as they had a couple of poor years in between.

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

A: I have watched all the Peaky Blinders episodes and I like it a lot, so I am hoping another season comes out soon.

Q: What is your guilty pleasure?

A: It would have to be chocolate.

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

A: The Lumineers — Ophelia; Robin Schulz — Oh Child; Peaky Blinders — Silky.

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

A: Pat Smullen, because of the battle that he went through and he still does all he can to help me in any way he can.

Q: Favourite dinner?

A: I would have to say steak.

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

A: We went to Tenerife last year at the end of the season and had a good time.

Q: What ambitions do you still have?

A: Just keep getting stronger and improving on my riding.

Short-term, I would love to be champion apprentice again, but Ireland is so competitive for young jockeys now, so if you don’t improve there’s another lad waiting to take your spot.

Q: What is the hidden gem of Tipperary?

A: The hills of Killenaule!

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

A: Horse racing and hurling.

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

A: Lately, I have been back playing a lot of hurling when I am not working.

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

A: Keep busy. The days go much quicker if you have something to occupy yourself.

Q: What is the first thing you will do when we all get back to normal?

A: I am not too sure. I haven’t really thought about anything, just looking forward to racing getting back.

SOURCE: Horse Racing Ireland

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