Michael O’Sullivan is one of, if not the brightest, young talents in the weigh room. He has forged a formidable relationship with Barry Connell and his exploits around Prestbury park was one of the biggest stories of this year’s Festival. Marine Nationale delivered Mikey his very first Festival winner in the Supreme before Jazzy Matty won the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle.
How did you get involved in racing?
I was bred into racing. Grew up surrounded by racing on a farm in north Cork. My Grandfather got it started and he got his two sons into it. My Father was a good amateur jockey. My uncle Eugene trained. So I was surrounded by it. I would have been part of the pony club growing up and would have done a lot of hunting as well. Did some show jumping and eventing and I eventually ended up point-to-pointing. That’s really how it all started.
Who helped you along the way or gave you advice?
I suppose I was lucky enough to have Dad there growing up for advice. He took me all over the country to point to points and with ponies and that. He had a lot of experience from his time riding. I suppose in recent times the senior lads in the weigh room have been very good to me. The likes of Davy Russell have been great. If you ask Davy a question, he will give you a straight answer, which you need. A lot of the young lads would look up to him.
What challenges/problems have you faced so far?
The main challenge I’ve faced is probably injury. I have been lucky enough lately. I went through a very bad spell of it there for a couple of years. Especially with my collarbone. I broke it twice in six weeks. I had surgery at that stage and had a plate put in. Nine months after that I broke it again but very badly. I had to get the old plate taken out and a new one put in. That’s probably been my hardest challenge. My weight is quite good so I suppose injuries have been the main challenge.
You had an incredible Cheltenham with the highlight being Marine Nationale. What was it like coming down the tunnel and into the parade ring on him?
I tried to take it all in. I took my time coming back in. It’s hard like you’re trying to soak it all up but you are in a bit of a blur as well. It was an amazing feeling. A sense of relief as well. My dad was there as well so that was pretty special. It was a brilliant day.
I imagine that first win took the pressure off for the week as well.
It did yeah, it certainly took a bit of the pressure off. To be honest I would have been disappointed if I came out of there without a winner. So to win the first race of the Festival and for Barry as well. I was riding with more confidence and that definitely helped then on Jazzy Matty.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to get involved in racing professionally?
Every time I sat on a horse growing up I tried to improve myself. You see a lot of young lads and they’re riding out every day of the week but they’re not putting any thought into it. They’re just going through the motions. So I think for young lads coming up the best advice I could give is to use every horse that you ride as a learning experience and try to improve each time.
What are your hopes for the next 12 months?
I would love to be champion conditional this season. Next season is going to be a lot of hard work with no claim. Hopefully, I just stay injury free and keep my connections. I would love to ride at least the same if not more Grade 1 winners as this season.