First job in the Thoroughbred industry?
Working a breeze-up season with Con Marnane in Bansha House when I was 18. It wasn't my first rodeo there though, as I had learned how to ride on ponies up in Con's (before he became the King) when I was a child.
Biggest influence on your career?
Naming one individual would be tough as I've had a bunch of editors, colleagues, and friends from when I started in racing up to the present day that have been a huge help. It probably sounds a bit odd but opening a Twitter account 12 or so years ago turned out to be a very important decision for me. Since then, the vast majority of the work I do has been posted on there to be scrutinised and analysed by what is a very informed audience, many of whom specialise in very specific areas of the sport/industry and can offer a very high level of comment. The criticism and feedback I've got over the years has been a big factor in driving my standards forward. Every day is a learning day in this game.
Favourite racehorse of all time, and why?
The obvious answer is Frankel, as I'll be surprised if I ever see a horse that approaches his greatness in my lifetime. More personally, I have a mare here called Midnight Oasis that was bought very cheaply and delivered a series of very important results in the sales ring and on the track that allowed me to expand my breeding operation. She'll always be very special here.
Who will be champion first-season sire in 2023?
I'm much happier evaluating racecourse performance than engaging in First-Season Sire Bingo, but I had a couple of Ten Sovereigns's colts through my hands and saw as many of them as I could in the last year. An awful lot of them have very good hind legs, plenty of action and the ones I dealt with had notably good minds.
Greatest race in the world?
The Derby has still got a hold on me. Perversely, I think the passing of the great Galileo might well lead to the most exciting and competitive middle-distance scene for quite some time in the years ahead.
If you could be someone else in the industry for a day, who would it be, and why?
Any jockey with a fancied ride in the Grand National would be a fair day to experience, win or lose.
Emerging talent in the industry (human)?
I don't really like talking up young jockeys as making the transition from promising apprentice to top-class jockey is really difficult, but I have a great amount of belief in Dylan Browne McMonagle.
Name a horse TDN should have made a Rising Star, and didn't?
Al Riffa. Considering how rangy he is, I thought what he did last season in winning the National S. in such style off the back of a maiden win was genuinely remarkable. He could be special, and I don't say that lightly.
Friday night treat?
Dominos and Dundalk!
Guilty pleasure outside racing?
True crime podcasts and long runs.
Race I wish I'd been there for…
State of Rest winning the Cox Plate, as none of us could travel due to Covid-19 restrictions at the time. No horse has ever been made to jump through as many invasive veterinary requirements and logistical hoops to be allowed a run in a Group 1 as he had to in the months leading up to it. For him to go down there and beat the best in Australia after all that was just incredible. The stewards' inquiry threatened to take it from him, and it was as close to a 50/50 decision as you'll see, but I'd say the whole of Tipperary heard the roar when the result was announced as unaltered!