RICHIE Gardiner from Watergrasshill in east Cork has been involved with horses for 40 years, to some extent, and now he is one of the owners running the successful Terence O’Brien Racing Club.
“My wife Elizabeth and her dad had a horse at home who they used to train themselves up to a certain point and then sent it on to another trainer and that’s how I got involved. Their horse won a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park and it was a great day. To be involved and part of the winning team, it is a tremendous feeling. He went on to win the Murphy & Gunn Chase at Punchestown.”
“I was involved with a pointer trained by Terence O’Brien, Captain Canada, who was third first time out at Templemore point-to-point in April 2011 and we thought, ‘Hey this could be something’. He had a couple of runs and then at Killeagh in January 2012 he won – fierce excitement! He followed up by winning a winners of one at Askeaton.
“We were over the moon. We knew people involved with horses all their lives and never had a winner and here we were with two successes!
“Captain Canada then won a maiden hurdle at Thurles under Paul Townend and we were offered big money. But we got a bit greedy thinking ‘This one’s going to win the Grand National’, but he never won again. After that I always took the money!
“I had a winner at Templenacarriga, Cepalo Delafayette, and we sold him on at Doncaster after his success but he never won again.
Did owners support Terence O’Brien once lockdown hit?
“Terence put the horses out to grass when lockdown came and no one took their horses away.
“I had discussed with Terence over the years if we should start a racing club as an affordable way for people to be involved. John Kelleher and I got one going. Straight away we got 30 people to sign up and we could have signed up another 30-plus, so many people wanted to get involved.
“They are mostly local people who would have kept in contact over the years. Terence is the straightest, most honest man in the world – too honest, almost! Every one trusts him.
“It helps as the club has a good horse, Mahler’s Dollar. He’s been very close, third, fifth and the last day in Kilbeggan, a close second to one of Gordon Elliott’s. The plan is to go to Listowel on September 23rd.
“The club’s finances have run well. People pay in by standing order, some have paid up until the end of the year.
“I’m also involved in leasing a mare with Joe Buckley, Our Roxanne – we’re having super fun with her. She ran in a €100,000 hurdle at Leopardstown and she was flying home when Davy Russell caught us up the inside! The excitement! I must say it was one fantastic day.
“My advice to someone willing to take on owning a horse is to get involved with a club – it’s the least expensive option - €100 a month, 25 quid a week or a half-share for €12.50.
“It’s very small money for a great experience.”