My Racing Story: Michael Higgins – Irish Injured Jockeys Fund

Being the general manager of the Irish Injured Jockeys means that some days can turn quite challenging but others can become quite rewarding. No two days are the same in this job but it’s great to see the charity moving forward quicker than we ever could have hoped since the Irish Injured Jockeys was set up in 2014. 

There is so much involved in the Irish Injured Jockeys that some people may not be fully aware of but we are also very lucky to have three sub committees. We’ve got a finance sub committee, a beneficiaries committee and the third one is the fundraising and events committee and thankfully that is the one that is taking up the most time at the moment and is the busiest.

We’ve got the second year of the Corinthian Challenge starting at the Curragh on Irish Oaks weekend next week and Jog For Jockeys is coming up at Naas Racecourse this August and with Galway fast approaching we also have a lot of different people looking to arrange different events and there’s something on each of the first three nights of the Galway Race week that we are getting involved in and we are just so appreciative of the help.

Jog For Jockeys is well established now and is a fantastically enjoyable day for jockeys, trainers and just racing fans alike who get to run alongside some of their idols and maybe even beat them!

With the Corinthian Challenge we raised well over €100,000 in our first year and we are delighted to be running the event again at three great racecourses, The Curragh, Gowran Park and Leopardstown, and with the people we have that signed up this year we are hoping that the three-race series will raise six figures for us again this year.

Jog for Jockeys
The Jog For Jockeys At The Curragh

The most recent event to land on our table is through Ladies Polo and with the help of Tamso Doyle and Derville Meade, they are running an event in August in Wicklow Polo Club and we are one of their designated charities for the day so there’s always variety in this job.

Obviously, the nature of this job is that you never know when you are going to be getting a call you’d prefer not to get and unfortunately that generally comes from Dr Adrian McGoldrick. If a jockey gets a bad fall and is going to be ruled out of action for a period of time, Adrian will be on to us to assist him or her and their family in whatever way we can but it doesn’t have to be a fall or an injury.

There’s nothing to stop riders contacting myself or the Irish Injured Jockeys to say they need a hand with this or that or a family or friend could contact us either, in total confidence, and advise us that they know somebody who is coming on hard times in some shape or form and could need a hand but might just not have the confidence to go and ask for help.

There’s people we are currently helping or have done in the past that wouldn’t be in the public eye and there’s plenty of people who have needs that the public never hear about, be it a medical need, social need or some help along the way. For instance, if there was a rider that wanted to further their career once they are finished being a jockey, be it a course or further education, we would also be a in a position to try and assist them in any way we could.

Definitely, the most pleasing part of the job is when you help people and see a difference being made to their life. And I also get a great kick out of the fundraising events where people, like in the Corinthian Challenge, are getting great personal enjoyment out of helping to raise money for such a valuable cause.

I am just very honoured to be in a position to help give back to a sport that I have always enjoyed. My racing background up to joining the Irish Injured Jockeys in 2015 was pretty simple, I was just a normal racegoer. Living in Kildare I would attend Naas, Punchestown and The Curragh regularly as well as trips to big meetings at Leopardstown and the likes of Cheltenham and Aintree and I would have got to know a lot of people in various different aspects of the sport just through going racing.

When the Irish Injured Jockeys decided to create the job for a general manager, somebody from the industry just happened to mention it to me and I went through the process and the rest is history.

There are so many people that are passionate about this industry and so many people that are willing to help it in any way they can, and I’m just privileged to be able to help guide some of those people to make a difference and I hope with the Irish Injured Jockeys we can continue to do just that.

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