For as long as I can remember I always had an interest in horses and once I realised that I preferred to be going to the Sales with Dad (Bobby O’Ryan), who is a bloodstock agent himself, than I did going to school, I kind of knew this was the only road I was ever going to go down. I absolutely love my job as a bloodstock agent but to be perfectly honest you couldn’t write the year we’ve had this year.
The last few months have been incredible and I suppose it started with Labaik winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and it was a long time since I got a feeling like I did when he won that day!
I’ve been involved in sourcing a lot of nice horses, Carlito Brigante won at Cheltenham for Gordon (Elliott), Ribchester is a Group 1 winner for Richard Fahey but Labaik was obviously a bit different and the fact that he was running in my colours as well made it extra special.
Labaik was an aeroplane. He was some work horse. Obviously we took a chance on him at the sales but I just felt that Hamdan Al Maktoum’s team took the time to send him over to England to race after he had been running in France so there must have been some sort of engine there and for £25,000 I just felt that if we could get his bits and bobs of issues ironed out we might have a racehorse. For me, it’s about looking for a different angle. You are going to the sales sometimes with no big budget so you are looking for something different and you are taking a chance so to end up with a horse like him for £25,000 and he goes and wins a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
To be honest, at Cheltenham I just wanted him to jump off. We didn’t want to go over there on a stage like that and be made look a fool by the horse planting himself at the start but in fairness Busty (Ian Amond) and all the team at Gordon’s did a great job with him in getting him right and getting him to jump off and, I know it might sound a bit silly, but we really did believe if he jumped off that he could post a performance like he did that day.
Unfortunately Labaik sustained a serious injury at Punchestown but even to finish as close as he did that day and he pulled up lame, he could have easily gone close there too, but we’ll never know and he’s a horse that won’t be forgotten for many reasons!
More recently I have been involved in Gordon’s first two-year-old’s for the Nick Bradley Racing Club and that has been the greatest kick I’ve ever got out of this game.
For about five years Gordon and myself have been talking about getting some two-year-olds but in fairness to Gordon he always said it would be a waste of time getting two or three so last summer we said we’d go and get some. I spoke to Nicky Bradley, who had been involved in different horses in Gordon’s over the years, like Backstage and Commissioned, and I said that we’d get the two-year-olds if he looked after the syndicate, he agreed and that was it.
So we got the people in, made up of existing owners and friends of ours and it was 20 shares at €20,000 a piece – all in – and what I mean by all in, that is from when the hammer was knocked down, getting them broken, trained and all the way through to October then and whatever is left in October this year will go to the sales.
We bought seven yearlings costing between €17,000 to €65,000 each and thankfully we got the people onboard to roll the dice with us and the first to run was Beckford, who won up the Curragh, and last Sunday at Listowel, Monkeylou won very impressively first time out and I just can’t believe what is after happening to be honest.
Beckford has since been sold to Newtown Anner Stud to stay in training with Gordon and we are in the process of selling Monkeylou but the syndicate aren’t that pushed because basically they are covered now so if Monkeylou gets sold, well and good, but if he doesn’t, he’s there for us to go to the Anglesey Stakes on Oaks weekend at the Curragh.
To be honest, I based it on the way that Ger Lyons and Richard Fahey do it with their middle of the road priced yearlings and they are deadly at it so we were basing it on that model.
Coming up next is the Land Rover Sale and the Derby Sale where we will get a lot of stock for the likes of Gordon next season.
Look, it makes my job an awful lot easier when I’m working with the likes of Gordon over jumps and Richard Fahey on the flat because they’d win with an ass so it does make it easier and their records speak for themselves. Gordon is a top two trainer every year and Richard Fahey is a top three trainer and has already surpassed £1m this year. They are great men to be working with.
When I go to the sales, once I can find some sort of an angle, I’ll buy it. When you go you are looking for different types all of the time. If I’m going to buy a foal, a yearling or a horse for the breeze-ups I want to see the horse itself and what is standing in front of you. Anyone can buy a horse off a pedigree but you need a horse with a bit of size, a good walk to it and an athletic sort of a horse and then you can have a look at the pedigree. If you just looked at the page you wouldn’t be able to afford it so I’m looking for a racehorse rather than a pedigree horse first.
Then with the older horses that have some form that we are buying for Gordon in the Horses In Training Sales, Gordon’s assistant, Busty, (Ian Amond), goes through their past form and myself and Gordon would look at the horses then to make sure they are sound and are a nice bit of a horse and we put the two together then to buy them.
Labaik was a horse we obviously took a chance with but he was a gorgeous looking horse and if I could model every foal I buy on him, I would, because he was a smashing looking horse and thankfully he had the engine as well.
I didn’t do any of the National Stud courses or anything like that but I’d always have been at the sales with Dad wheeling and dealing and it was Jim Gorman who was the first trainer to give me a start buying horses for him and thankfully we had a good few winners together over a few years and I have been working with Richard Fahey now for about 10 years and they were both massive in getting me off the ground when I went out on my own a few years ago.
2017 has been very memorable so far and hopefully we are not finished yet!