THE naming of the Galaxy Horse Racing Syndicate was designed to harness the hope they have for their horses. Aim for the galaxy and see where you land. They went the full way at Cheltenham on Thursday when their Seddon won the Magners Plate.
And for one of the founding members, Johnny Maher, who also works for John McConnell, he had an out-of-this-world experience by leading the horse out and then back in last; the most savoured walk in National Hunt racing.
That wasn’t usually the case, that he’d lead the horses up. Speaking yesterday, Maher took the story up.
“We’ve always had more flat horses than jumps horses,” he said. “I was down in Cork one day and our two horses, Stanhope and Mokhalad, ran poorly, and I just said to John, would you ever let me lead up one at Cheltenham?
“So at the October meeting, I was due to lead up Streets Of Doyen but he was a non-runner so I ended up leading up Bardenstown Lad. I nearly didn’t know what I was doing. A girl from Gordon Elliott’s was behind me telling me I wasn’t doing it right and I was like, I’ve never done this before.
“Next thing the horse stood on my foot. Well I nearly went down like Annie Power - the pain of it! But the horse went and won, and it was great
“I got better at the job and since then I’ve been leading up Seddon. I led him up for all three of his wins this season. Thursday was just unbelievable. It was the best experience of my life, probably better than my wedding day!
“Amy Cook, John’s partner, does all the work with the horse. I wanted her to lead him up but she said to go ahead. She came in with us at the end - she does an amazing job with the horse and a lot of it is down to her.”
The Galaxy Horse Racing syndicate has been going since 2017, when Maher and Derek McGeehan set it up. As Maher says, they’ve mostly been involved with flat horses but Seddon was their first horse, acquired from Max McNeill. The horse was actually named after McNeill’s late mother, and McNeill was very sporting when he told the story to ITV on Thursday before congratulating the Galaxy Syndicate members.
Seddon cost just €15,000 but has now won the guts of €100,000 in prize money. Naturally, Maher is full of praise for John McConnell, who he works with every day.
“The thing with John is that he doesn’t know he good he is,” he asserts. “He’s up there with Willie, Gordon and Henry. He’s so humble but he’s one of the best in the country.
“He was so unlucky with Mahler Mission on Tuesday so I was delighted that he got his Festival winner with Seddon. The horse had other options this week, like the Coral Cup and Martin Pipe, but John picked the right one, so it was a great decision from him.
“I see John every day. He’s so laid back and I think that allows him to see things that other trainers can’t. He is very astute and very clinical. Wins like this will surely help him take it to the next level and he deserves it.”
And what now for Seddon?
“He has loads of options but we’re thinking of the American Grand National. We think that could suit him and what an adventure it could be.
“But we’re just going to enjoy it for now, I’d imagine there will be a party or two this weekend.”