AFTER 30 odd rides between point-to-points and on the track, I was beginning to wonder if that first winner would ever come. So, you can imagine my relief, as well as excitement, when Thedancingfarrier finally put that right at Cork last week. Riding that winner for the Kiely family made it all the better, as they have been so good to me.

My father Walter (Power) trained a mix of point-to-pointers and horses for the track. I’d say it was kind of half-and-half between the two when I was growing up. Megamar is one of the earliest I can remember but he had a good few point-to-point winners with horses like Cathysalpha and De Faoithesdream. He later sold De Faoithesdream to my uncle Evan (Williams) who won six or seven races with him after.

My mother, Helen, taught me how to ride ponies at home. She had ridden in point-to-points when she was younger, as had both my grandparents on that side. When I was old enough, I moved on from the ponies and started riding out the racehorses at home.

Good experience

I didn’t go out to another racing yard until fourth year in school. For my work experience, I went to John Kiely for a month and then, Henry de Bromhead. I stayed in Henry’s for about a year-and-a-half, going in on weekends and holidays. I really enjoyed it there. I used to get run away with a good bit but it was all good experience!

Henry was a great man to work for. He always had nice quality horses and Honeysuckle, Minella Indo and Minella Times were there then. I would ride out at home whenever I wasn’t in Henry’s and lead up for my father in point-to-points and on the track. We would have grown up going point-to-pointing every Sunday, so when I got older I appreciated it more.

In later years, my father trained Marshim to win a point-to-point and five races on the track. I would have been allowed take the odd day off school to go watch that horse race.

I spent a year working for Joseph O’Brien after doing my Leaving Certificate. You would learn a lot from watching the flat lads in Joseph’s. That was a good experience for me. After that, I went to James and Ellen Doyle’s point-to-point yard up in Wexford. I went in every morning and got to do a load of schooling. I got my eye in schooling a lot of different horses. I had my point-to-point licence then so I rode my own horse, Dr Robin, for my father. I also had one ride on Hugo Alco for the Doyle’s.

I then went back to Joseph O’Brien for a second time, before starting with Paul Kiely last September. I ride out for David Kiely in the afternoon and still go into Joseph’s on a Sunday morning.

Too competitive

When I first went to Paul, the plan had been to run Thedancingfarrier in open point-to-points. However, he changed his mind because he just felt that they were so competitive, the horse would be better suited to going back hurdling. I had ridden in a few bumpers before having my first ride over hurdles on Thedancingfarrier at Naas in December.

I really enjoyed that but it felt very different from point-to-points. Before last weeks’ race in Cork, I had 25 point-to-point rides and five on the track without any success. Despite having yet to ride a winner, we were quietly confident going into the race. The horse had won that same race two years earlier for John Gleeson and had dropped down the handicap a bit since. I walked the track and was delighted to find the ground was quite loose. Even with so much in our favour you can never be certain but I was hoping for a big run.

Before the race, Paul told me to jump the horse off in mid-division, hunt away and not to set him alight. Turning for home, I was conscious of what he had said, so didn’t want to get there too early. For a few strides I wasn’t sure I would catch Ivane but we closed the gap after the last and once I gave my horse a few he responded and went away.

To get the (first) win was amazing, my parents (Walter and Helen) and little brother Richard were there on the day, while my other brothers Jack and Luke watched at home. I was delighted to ride a winner for the Kiely family as they have been huge supporters.

Paul’s brother Tom bred Thedancingfarrier and rode him out at home all the time. He works as a farrier, so that’s how the horse got his name. The horse runs in the colours of another brother, Richie. Paul’s wife Rachel, and parents Jock and Catherine, have also been very good to me since I started in the yard.

Hopefully the win will help open up a few more doors for me. I’d love to see how it will go. It would be great if I could make a career out of it. For now, I just want to concentrate on being an amateur, hopefully ride a few more winners and try to get my name out there.

Alice Power was in conversation with John O’Riordan.