David Casey has enjoyed an association with the Willie Mullins’ yard for nearly a quarter of a century, starting and finishing his career as a jockey in Closutton and now working in a more hands on position within the yard as a whole, assisting Willie on a day to day basis. A great career in the saddle saw David win some highly prestigious races including; The Irish Hennessy Gold Cup (twice), Thyestes Chase (twice), French Champion Hurdle (twice), The Galway Plate, The Galway Hurdle and the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
You had a brilliant career as a jockey, spanning 20 years and 776 winners in total, what was the highlight for you?
Everyone who starts out as a jockey does so with the aim of winning races at the Cheltenham Festival, I was lucky enough to ride a couple of winners at the Festival so they’re obviously highlights but I had lots of other highlights down through the years. I won the Irish Hennessy twice and the Thyestes twice and I was lucky to ride other big winners in the UK, France and Australia so I have plenty of great memories from my days as a jockey.
In 2015, you made the decision to call time on your career. What made up your mind to retire?
I was coming to an age where the end of my career was getting closer and I had to prepare for the future and luckily the opportunity of a job came up with Willie Mullins. It was a great opportunity and I thought to myself that if I didn’t take it, someone else would! At the time, I was finding it a small bit harder to pick up rides compared to previous years. I had some good yards behind me but the number of spare horses for me to ride was getting smaller. I had come to the stage where I had one eye on the future anyway so it just made sense to take the job at Closutton when it came up.
You have been with Willie Mullins’ since you started your career, what is it like working in a different role in the yard to what you were used to for well over 20 years?
Obviously what I do now is different to riding but I’ve been around the yard since I started riding in 1994 so I knew how things worked and I knew what way Willie likes things done so it wasn’t hard making the switch from riding to what I’m doing at the moment. It’s a different routine and a different way of thinking for me now but I got used to it very quickly and I really enjoy it. It’s great to be coming in to a yard full of very good horses every morning.
You are in a terrific position at the moment; would you consider a career in training yourself in the future?
Training is not something that I ever saw myself doing and that hasn’t changed as of yet. I’m an assistant to Willie at the moment and I like to help out as often and as best I can. I’ve travelled with Willie’s horses abroad to Australia and other countries. Not long after I retired I headed away to Australia with Max Dynamite, mainly because I knew what way Willie wanted things done. I knew what Willie’s routine was and he knew what way I thought about things so it suited that I went over with the horse ahead of the Melbourne Cup.
In the past, I used to ride a lot of the horses that Willie was thinking of taking in to the yard but I don’t do that as much anymore as a lot of the horses are brought in from France as opposed to being bought at the sales here in Ireland. Being in and around the yard every day is brilliant and I really enjoy my job at the moment.