"It's sad" - Michael O'Callaghan on Tralee racecourse


Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

15.48 14 Jun 2019


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Michael O'Callaghan is considered to be one of the fastest rising training talents in Irish Flat Racing.

He joined us for this week's edition of Friday Night Racing to discuss his methods.

As he admitted, he jumped straight into the "deep end" at a very young age.

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"I started renting a stud farm out in Rathangan at about 20 years of age," he said.

"Young and naive and bit stupid but straight into the deep end. But I started to buy and sell a couple of foals and yearlings. That only went OK. Then I got left with a couple of yearlings, so I had to breeze them. And I got on well with the breezers and I enjoyed training 2-year-olds for the breezers.

"And then after a couple of seasons, it inevitably happens. I got left with a couple of 2-year-olds and not being really able to afford to put them into training . So I tried to train them myself. That went well and during that time we acquired a filly. She was my first winner and she won three-in-a-row. That was 2012."

Total Enjoyment

That first winner came at the age of 23 for the Tralee, Co Kerry native. But he got the bug for racing 6-7 years earlier after Total Enjoyment won the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in 2004.

"She won the Champion Bumper just when I was starting to get an interest in racing," he said.

"Dad wasn't really into racing either but he used to follow a good bit of racing like that. His Dad used to have a bet, a lucky 15 most days since he retired. My job was going down to the shop and getting him The Evening Echo so he could look at the decks and do his lucky 15 for the next day.

"When Total Enjoyment won the Champion Bumper, that's what really got me interested. At that stage, I had been riding ponies is all."

Through neighbour Tom Cooper, renowned trainer and father of jockey Byran, he was able to pursue that interest.

Idle

The one regret is that the racecourse in Tralee was one O'Callaghan never had the opportunity to take on, with its last race staged in 2008.

"It's sad for me that it's gone on a selfish sort of note, that I've never been able to train a winner at my local track," he said.

"It's still sitting there idle. I think they run point-to-points and flats there. But during the time of the Celtic Tiger, it was sold off. It was going to be developed. There was going to be a sports facility there and a shopping centre or whatever. It was going to be a big sort of development but that fell through. And it's sitting idle which is kind of sad.

"If you were to drive past it now, some of the stands are falling down. It was a great track."

You can watch the full interview above via our video player. Friday Night Racing is brought to you in association with GoRacing.ie


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