How his father's daring decision spurred Pat Healy into horse racing photography


Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

15.36 6 Sep 2019


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Usually, Pat Healy puts others within a frame. But this week, it was his turn to be on the other side of the camera.

The Listowel native joined us on Friday Night Racing to talk about his career as a horse racing photographer.

He explained how he got onto that career path through his father.

"He had an interest in racing always and when he was a young fella, he used to cut the pictures out of the newspapers and put them in a box and keep them," he said.

"And he loved looking at pictures of horses. So back in the day, they were black and white obviously and that's how I got the interest. Then he bought a camera. You were going back to the early '70s. I always admired him and he made the decision to give up a secure job and throw his hat and try his hand into going racing and selling photographs."

Through introductions from those in the racing community, his father was able to forge a path within that domain.

Guts

"But he had the guts and the balls to give up a job and have a crack at this," said Healy.

"And obviously with the support of my Mam."

Recently, the Healy family discovered his old order book which was meticulously detailed.

"It's gas. The first two orders from ex-trainer Liam Browne and Andrew McNamara," Pat Healy continued.

"So that's how he got going and it wasn't easy. I can remember going back to the '80s and there was a bit of a recession at that time. It was always a bit of a struggle."

The first time Pat Healy accompanied his father to a race was in February 1979.

"At that time, there were 37 pictures in a roll of film," he said.

"And I always remember going to the factory, up to Spectra with the boss the next day to see my pictures. I remember Xavier McCauliffe, the owner of Spectra, coming out to me and shaking my hand. He said, 'He couldn't believe that I took these pictures'. There were only half a dozen rejects. [Rejects] meants that they were no good. So I thought this is easy, that I had it cracked. But for the next six months, every film that went into Spectra, there were 30 rejects and six good ones. So it was trial and error."

You can watch the full Pat Healy interview above via YouTube. Our racing coverage is brought to you in association with Horse Racing Ireland.


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