Apprentice jockey Gary Halpin sits down to answer some of our questions as he looks forward to the new flat season kicking into gear.
How many winners did you have in the 2016 season?
In all, I had 30 winners not including the All-Weather action in Dundalk.
Last season, you had more rides and more winners than you’ve ever had. What do you attribute this to?
Hard work! Hard work and commitment. Everything worked out well because I got on plenty of good horses trained and owned by loyal people. Without hard work it wouldn’t have happened.
With the new season under way, what are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to the season as a whole to be quite honest. Last week in Naas was the start of it and it’s just about getting going myself now. I want to get back into the swing of things and just ride as many winners as I possibly can. If I had as good a season as I had last year I would be delighted with that so fingers crossed things go well.
Do you set yourself targets at the beginning of every season or take things as they come?
I generally don’t set out every season with a main goal or a main target to aim for. I would like to beat last season’s total of 30 winners but in order to do that I will have to work just as hard as last year if not harder to get the winners. If I could ride the same as last year it would be great but obviously I want to beat that total.
What stable are you associated with?
I’m based with Kevin Prendergast and I’m his apprentice jockey, I’m also in John Oxx’s stable one day a week too. Both trainers have their first jockey taking most of the rides on the yards horses so I take what I can get in terms of rides. I ride a bit for Patrick Prendergast, John Joe Feane and Denis Hogan too so there’s always horses to be riding.
Are you looking forward to riding a certain horse this season?
There are lots of nice horses to look forward to in the yard and while I’ll be doing well to get on them they’re still nice to look forward to for Kevin’s yard. I suppose horses I’m looking to seeing, I would think Aneen is one and she’ll probably run in the 1,000 Guineas. One for myself, I’ll be looking forward to getting back on Vastonea. I’ve won a couple of nice pots with him and he gave me a great day out at the Galway Festival when I won the Topaz mile. He’s a horse that’s been good to me and I suppose he put me on the map so it’s nice to have him to look forward to this season.
Last season I struck up a nice relationship with a horse called Tithonus. I won on him three times last season at the Galway Festival then down in Cork and we won a nice pot in the Curragh then a few weeks later. If I could strike up a partnership with a horse like him again this year I wouldn’t be going too badly.
You’re still claiming, are you hoping to ride out that as soon as you can?
Yeah I claim 3lb and have around 15 winners to go before I lose that so that will happen sooner rather than later. It’ll take a bit of work to get those winners and lose it but it would be great to lose that and that is a long term goal – not just specific to this season.
Is there any one race you would like to win this season?
I would love to win any of the handicaps on Irish Champions weekend in September. It’s a great weekend and the atmosphere and the buzz around is top class. The prize money is exceptional and the weekend draws the best horses so to land a big one there would be an ambition definitely. I’d be happy if I could pick up any one of those races!
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