Horse Racing

New faces at historic Curragh stable

By Alayna Cullen and Emma Berry

The Irish grass season is just weeks away and one man who will be keen to make an impression this year is John O’Donoghue, the new coach at one of Ireland’s most revered stables, Currabeg.

Training at the yard where John Oxx has sent out so many top horses, at least Sea The Stars (Ire), Sinndar (Ire) and Ridgewood Pearl (GB), can bring a degree of pressure, but Oxx’s successor likes to see it as a favor.

“I spent some time here as a teenager and have always kept in touch with Mr and Mrs Oxx,” said O’Donoghue, who recently returned to Ireland with his wife Jodi after six years in the UK working. for David O’Meara and Roger Varian.

“When he announced his retirement, we were looking at starting over ourselves, and it was never something that we considered, that we could start here. I’d say it’s really luck: what’s for you doesn’t overtake you, and it all worked out. ”

He added, “One of the biggest positives is Curragh, and the fact that the pitch is available and with all the redevelopment, stands and training ground. It’s just the perfect place to start. ”

It is also a homecoming of Cork native O’Donoghue and his Irish wife. The couple got married last year while living in Newmarket, where Jodi was hired by Jockey Club Racecourses as the partnership’s lead account manager.

Although John’s name is on the training license, the O’Donoghue Racing business is a partnership in every sense of the word. Modern-day racing requires more than just horses and staff management, and with the rise of corporate ownership, Jodi’s expertise in the field is sure to prove useful. for the new coach.

“Jodi was probably really the brains of the surgery,” her husband admitted. “I look after the horses and run the yard and train them when I see them. Jodi will truly be a tool to engage owners and experience of yard owners and administrators, driving different ownership flows. ”

He continued, “We’re bringing her corporate experience into what we’re trying to do here. I think when things settle down and we’re close to hitting our target, we’ll provide a very premium service. It’s something we’ve been thinking about and strategizing for a long time. ”

Jodi’s experience in the horse world – from show jumper to racehorse – is varied. She completed work with Camas Park Stud and Aga Khan Studs before working for Newmarket Racecourses, and before that she ran co-ops for David O’Meara, Tom Clover and Ken Condon. So far, the new working partnership is not a personal relationship test.

“Our roles are quite separate,” she said. “We both see it from different angles. I look at it from an angle. He looked at it from the horse’s perspective. I think from my business background and his extensive experience working with horses for many years, I think it will turn out well.

“So far, so good,” Jodi continued, before adding with a smile, “Come back to me in a year.”

The team currently consists of 20 young and “a handful” of older horses. From their base in Currabeg, the racecourse is a fair distance away but the training ground, accessible by a short walk and jog from the barn, past grotesque sheep here and there. There, it was completely quieter than the places O’Donoghue had been in Newmarket during his time with Roger Varian.

“We are incredibly lucky that we are there,” he said. “Currabeg just arrived at the Little Curragh facility. So in our daily routine we don’t really pass another sequence. We’re starting to see Ken Condon or Willie McCreery in the distance, and possibly have to take a turn at the bottom. We go out, we come back. We keep everything very close to home and relaxing. It’s basically a very different training center, even though it’s essentially the same concept.”

The cage was represented by the first runner in the first week of 2022, when Ertikaaz (Ire) (Cable Bay {Ire}) made his debut for O’Donoghue, who had previous experience as a 4-year-old. age trained by Varian. obtained in last year’s sale. With the majority of the pitch being minors, the coach will take a patient approach, although the season will explode again almost on his doorstep on March 26.

“It will be the 2-year-old races and the summer race that we are really aiming for. But, yes, we are looking forward to it all getting started,” said O’Donoghue.

“We have everything we want, everything we need, so let’s find some winners.”

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