EVERY young jockey starting out in this sport, needs that flagship horse to propel him to the next level. Failing that, he needs to be in the right place, at the right time, to take the chances that come his way.

I have been very fortunate, in that, twice in my short career to date, I have returned from serious injury hitting the ground running with early winners that reignited momentum which could easily have been lost.

My introduction to racing came via my grandfather, who was an avid follower. As a child, he brought me along to those tracks located close to our home, namely Leopardstown, Fairyhouse and Navan.

I was mad for horses from a young age, learning to ride at Ashtown Stables on the edge of the Phoenix Park, before graduating to ponies and show jumping.

From the age of 12, I started going in to trainer Ado McGuinness to help out in his yard at weekends and school holidays. During those years, my Mum and grandparents drove me all around; so a big thanks to all three.

Work experience

As soon as I was eligible, I left full-time education and went down to RACE on the Curragh. From there, I was sent out to Ken Condon on work experience - a fantastic place to get a start in racing.

I then moved down to Tipperary for a year, riding out for trainers Mouse Morris and John Halley. I had my first ride under rules for the latter - Chapati, who finished fourth in a Thurles bumper, in December 2018.

That same year, I moved up north to take up a job with trainer Stuart Crawford. He gave me plenty of opportunities from the outset, both in point-to-points and on the racecourse. I rode in a good few races at tracks in the North of England and Scotland such as Carlisle and Ayr.

Having always enjoyed those experiences, it made the decision to relocate that much easier when the time eventually came. Prior to that, I rode my initial winner on the track, Willyouwalkwithme, for Harry Smyth at Downpatrick in June 2021.

Willyouwalkwithme, for Harry Smyth at Downpatrick in June 2021 was Dylan's first winner \ Healy Racing

While it took me the best part of three years to register that first success, I think Stuart half knew that I wasn’t quite ready to set sail.

Basically, after coming to him, Stuart taught me how to ride from scratch again, devoting countless hours to watching me school over grids, logs and cross-country fences. I would definitely advise anyone that had a 15-year-old kid who wanted to make it as a jockey to send him, or her, up to Stuart.

While his reputation for producing young horses is well known within the industry, riders such as Jonathan Moore, Adam Short and Anthony Fox have all come through the Crawford academy.

Moving on

The opportunity to move to the North of England to ride for Rose Dobbin came about via Steven Crawford. He is friendly with agent Wilson Rennick, who was looking for a conditional jockey to join the yard.

Following a trial period of a week, I made the move a permanent one, also signing up to have Wilson book my rides. Despite Wilson’s hard work and Rose Dobbin giving me plenty of rides, I endured a rather frustrating start to my career in Britain. I think I had about 24 second place finishes that season, before Cliffs Of Dooneen won at Carlise in April 2022.

The following day, I was riding at Perth, where I broke my left leg in a fall! It subsequently turned out to be quite a bad break, meaning that I was out of action for six months. During my rehabilitation, I received great care from the team at Oaksey House.

In most circumstances, it can be difficult for a jockey to get going again once he has been on the sidelines for a period. Thankfully, my first ride back, Shanbally Rose, won at Perth, while my second, also registered a victory.

Propel career

In all, I ended up last season with eight winners, despite missing a large portion through that injury. I rode a few horses for Iain Jardine towards the end of 2022, something that helped propel my career forward.

When trainers outside of your own yard start to use you, it shows that you are doing something right and others take note. One of the most important winners I have ridden to date was Voix Du Reve at Ayr on Scottish Grand National day 2022.

It was after that win for Iain Jardine, that the link up with Olly Murphy came about. I rode a few horses for Olly in June 2023, before making the move to his yard permanently the following month.

Having made a promising start that summer, I was then struck my injury for a second time when puncturing a lung at Cartmel. Again, now that I was merely a number in a huge operation, I would have expected to struggle to get back once resuming race-riding.

Fortunately, when I came back in September, I rode a winner for Paul Robson, before doing likewise on Minella Double for Olly the following month. That win was massive for me, as not only was it for my boss, but also in the colours of one of our biggest owners.

Taken off

Since Christmas, things have really taken off for me - I have ridden 14 winners this season. A particular highlight was partnering Iwilldoit to finish third in the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow for Sam Thomas. He, along with Iain Jardine, Rose Dobbin and now, Olly Murphy, have been instrumental in my career to date.

When I first came over to Britain, Tony Dobbin was particularly good to me. He made me look at race-riding in a different way - explaining it like no one before. We have remained close friends over the last few years, chatting at least three or four times a week on the phone.


Looking further ahead, my main ambition would be to stay injury free for the remainder of the season and beyond. As a National Hunt jockey, injuries are part and parcel of the game but I think I have had more than my fair share up to now.

If I can stay in one piece, I hope that it will enable me to ride for more trainers, building new contacts, which in turn should lead to more winners.

Dylan was in conversation with John O’Riordan