TWO flat apprentices, who rode their first winners at Dundalk Stadium last Friday, have connections to the sport horse industry.

James Ryan, who landed the concluding one-mile handicap on the Tom McCourt-trained Philly’s Hope, would be better known to readers of the Irish Horse World as he has come up through the ranks of the Irish Pony Society.

He was particularly noted for his exploits in working hunter classes winning the supreme title at the IPS national championships, being champion at Balmoral in 2019 and, later that year, placing third on two separate mounts in Dublin. He won a section of the Lambertstown Derby last autumn on the Byrne family’s Fairyhouse Coco.

Also in 2019, James represented Ireland at the international working hunter championships in Wales and, in this regard, he was following in the footsteps of his parents who both rode internationally for this country. His father, Kieran, competed at the European eventing championships at Burghley in 1989 while his mother, Mairead, competed at two European championships – Punchestown in 1991 and Achselschwang in 1993 – and, between them, at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. The Ryans have produced many top show horses at their Oldtown, north Co Dublin yard from which they have also sent out point-to-point winners.

In common with his twin brother Ivan, who rides out for Kilsallaghan trainer Jim Dreaper and holds an amateur jockey’s licence, James has done a huge amount of hunting with the Ward Union and the Louths. Seventeen in December, the twins are in their Leaving Certificate year at Ashbourne Community College. James is attached to the McCourt yard in Stamullen but, when time allows, he and Ivan also ride out at the pre-training yard of fellow jockey, Conor Maxwell.

Making their mark

Piltown’s Cian Horgan, who won the opening two-mile handicap on the 7/2 favourite First Blood, didn’t do any competitive riding, pony racing or even hunting as a youngster, being more interested in farming. However, the 18-year-old, and his year-older brother Hugh, suddenly developed an interest in racing about five years ago and now both are attracted to the nearby yard of Joseph O’Brien.

The brothers are sons of former jockey Trevor Horgan and his wife Breda. Prior to going into racing, Trevor, who is a nephew of Robert Splaine, did a lot of show jumping, riding mainly for Noel C. Duggan’s brother, Pat. He then progressed through point-to-pointing to the racecourse where many of his big race wins were recorded on horses trained by O’Brien’s father, Aidan.

Since retiring from the saddle, Trevor has trained the odd point-to-pointer but he has also gained a notable reputation as a producer of young horses. Last year, Louise Codd qualified his Hidden Eclipse for the RDS young event horse championship at Lambertstown and that now five-year-old Chinook Eclipse gelding, who was bred by Caitriona Morrisey, news editor of the Irish Farmers Journal, should be back in work soon.

Trevor also has a Chinook Eclipse four-year-old for young event horse classes, a four-year-old Scrapman gelding for ridden hunter classes, and a two-year-old and a yearling to show in hand.