ALL but one member of the Foley family from Bagenalstown were at Punchestown last Saturday when Ger and Sorcha’s eldest son Jack was crowned champion conditional jockey for the 2021/2022 National Hunt season.
The 23-year-old, who partnered 44 winners from April last year to this, never had as much interest in show jumping as the rest of his family. Jack is now attached to the local yard of Willie Mullins, who was crowned champion trainer for the 16th time on Saturday, where he gets to ride out each day with Paul Townend (champion jockey), Patrick Mullins (champion amateur) and Jody Townend (champion lady amateur).
While their second son Jason (20), who works for Ger O’Neill’s Castlefield Sport Horses operation, was competing at Portmore on Saturday, Ger and Sorcha Foley spent a rare day at the races in the company of Max (17), the 2021 RDS national 128cms champion Ruben (12) and Harvey (seven).
“It was a fantastic occasion,” said a very proud Ger. “We’ve been following racing more and more since Jack took it up and on Friday, while at Ruben’s Confirmation in Bagenalstown, we all piled into the Railway Bar to see him win on El Barra!”
Next Thursday, Willie Mullins will be judging conformation for the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association racehorse to riding horse class in the Main Arena at Balmoral Show where former four-time British champion National Hunt jockey, Richard Johnson, will be the ride judge. There was plenty of equestrian interest in the James Nolan-organised ‘Have The Conversation – Say Yes To Organ Donation Punchestown Charity Race’. The Gordon Elliott-trained, Camilla Sharples-ridden winner, Amir Kabir, is owned by Stephen O’Connor, a joint-Master of the Ward Union Hunt and a staunch supporter of Irish show jumping through The Underwriting Exchange. Annie Widger, a member of the Co Waterford family involved in racing, showing, show jumping and eventing, finished fourth on the Shark Hanlon-trained A Mere Bagatelle.