SINCE retiring from the amateur ranks in 2017, I went on to work as head lad for my uncle, Raymond Cody, as well as running a successful breaking and pre-training business. With a number of horses that have passed through my hands, going on to do very well under rules, I have developed a strong reputation for producing quality young stock.

I had always planned on buying a pony with my Holy Communion money but a trip to Connemara with my late father saw us return with two! The pony I purchased was in foal at the time, so you could say I got somewhat of a bargain.

My uncle Raymond (Cody) later broke the pony and I learned how to ride in the field outside our house. In my early teens, I started hunting with the local Kilmoganny Hunt; a great grounding for a young lad.

Although life got busier in the intervening years and work took over, I have always continued to hunt with the Kilmoganny whenever time allows.

When I was still in secondary school, my uncle Raymond was Head Lad in Eoin Doyle’s yard, so I went in there at weekends and school holidays.

Raymond and another uncle, Pat, trained a few point-to-point horses, so I enjoyed helping out with those as well.


When I was older, uncle Raymond arranged for me to spend a summer down in Ballydoyle. That was an incredible experience; just getting to see the scale of the whole operation and the pedigrees involved. I returned later that year over the Christmas holidays and again at Easter.

However, I had already come to the realisation that I would be too heavy to make it as a flat jockey, so I concentrated on National Hunt from then on. I took out an amateur licence while still in school and had my first ride in a bumper at Down Royal for Eoin Doyle. Ballycotton, gave me my first career win, when successful in a point-to-point at Farmaclaffley.

From there, everything just took off for me, as I found myself riding work and schooling for lots of local trainers like David O’Brien and Ger Hourigan.


After leaving school, I went full-time with Eoin Doyle, riding 14 winners during my career as an amateur. However, my weight was always something that I struggled with, preventing me from going much further.

I moved on to join Ellmarie Holden when Raymond took up a position as Head Lad in her yard. Similar to Eoin Doyle before her, Ellmarie was very good to me, giving me plenty of opportunities.

In 2017, I enjoyed what was arguably a career highlight, when winning a Down Royal bumper on His Dream. That horse was owned by Raymond and his wife Gillian, so it was a special day for all the family.

A year later, Raymond took out his own licence and I went in as Head Lad. We have enjoyed some memorable days together over the last few years, with Razoul’s win in the Grade B Lartigue Handicap Hurdle at Listowel being a particular highlight.

Lady Olenna winning her maiden at Gowran Park also stands out, not only as it came at our local track but also in the colours of our loyal supporters, Ballygallon Stud. Flemings Dream, a winner at Kilbeggan, was another that comes to mind as Frank and Rose Boyd are fantastic owners.

Stable star

This season, Bell Ex One has been the stable star, winning twice since switching his attention to hurdling. He is entered in the upcoming Cheltenham Sale but if he isn’t sold, he is one to look forward to over Christmas.

I helped Raymond pull him out as a foal, so have literally been involved in his career from day one.

It has been a great experience to follow his progress over the last three years, as he went from flat handicapper to leading juvenile hurdler. We have 10 horses in training at the moment, a mix of proven performers and unexposed potential.


After my race-riding career ended, I started to take in a few breakers and horses to pre-train. Norelands Stud has been a great client from the outset, sending me four or five yearlings every season.

Eoin Doyle and Ellmarie Holden have also been very supportive of my business since I started. Jonbon, who I broke for the latter before he went on to win his point-to-point, has been one of the best known to pass through my hands.

Like many National Hunt racing fans, I sat down to watch his eagerly anticipated hurdling debut at Newbury last Friday week. An impressive performance saw him leap to the head of the betting for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle next March.

Last year’s Cheltenham bumper winner, Sir Gerhard, was also broken here before winning at Boulta for Ellmarie (Holden). He is the current market leader for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, so it will be exciting to follow their progress throughout the season.

With horses of that calibre coming through the yard, I developed somewhat of a reputation and it just snowballed from there.

At the moment, I work with Raymond (Cody) in the mornings, then come home after lunchtime and attend to my own horses. I have nine in at the moment, a mix of breakers and pre-trainers. With numbers as they are, I am enjoying combining the two roles, although long-term, I’d love to develop my own business further and hopefully expand it.

I’ve also had a few runners in point-to-points, so down the line, I might train one or two of my own as a hobby.

In October, I had my first winner asa racehorse owner, when Tullyveery Lad won at Gowran Park. The five-year-old, who is in training with Raymond is jointly owned with two good friends, Pat Tennyson and Noel Morrissey.

Raymond and Gillian (Cody) have been so good to me over the years. We all get on so well, something that makes working together that much easier. Earlier this year, Gillian came to me to ask if she could nominate me for the Godolphin Irish Stud and Stable Staff Awards.


To be honest, initially I thought she was just messing with me but when I realised it was no joke, I really appreciated the sentiment.

In any walk of life, it is nice to know that your work doesn’t go unnoticed. Godolphin have to be credited for their foresight in establishing these awards, as it is something that those within the industry have really warmed to.

Just to be nominated was an honour in itself, while reaching the final three in my category was a real thrill.

Ray Cody was in conversation with John O’Riordan