How did you get interested in racing?

I’ve had horses for a long time now. My grandfather used to live beside Sligo races. I spent a lot of time going to the racing there as a kid. I had a couple of uncles that were big into it as well, so I was brought racing by them a good bit.

How did buying Backtonormal come about?

Gavin approached me and said that a lad had come into the yard and was looking to sell some shares in the horse. He said the horse seemed nice and the lad seemed sound. That’s how I got involved.

And then to win first time out at the Punchestown Festival, that’s incredible!

Yeah, that doesn’t happen too often, Gavin had targeted the race and decided that this was where he wanted to go with the horse, even though he hadn’t had that much time with the horse.

The horse came from Margaret Mullins in very good condition. He looked set up for that kind of a run. He wasn’t without form either. He had been knocking on the door, running well behind some good horses like Captain Cody. Gavin is very straight and he has a lot of time for Mags Mullins. So he had no hesitation in recommending the horse and knew that the horse would be in good nick when it arrived.

So what were the confidence levels like heading into Punchestown?

The other owner, Tom, was extremely confident, actually. He rang me the night before and he was very confident that this horse would win. I was more on the cautious side and was hoping for a good run.

Definitely, among the other shareholders, the confidence levels were high. Tom has been involved in horses a long time and he wanted to hold onto a share in it. So yeah, I think he was very confident.

It looked like he had a bit in hand at the end of the race as well. Is that fair to say?

He did. I think he is going to make a nice chaser in time. I thought Sean gave him a great ride as well. He just tucked him in, kept him ticking along, nursing along and, as you said, he finished with plenty in the tank. So, it looks like he will be able to jump the bigger fences and go further, which is fantastic.

So I presume he will get a bit of a break now?

Yeah, he will get a break over the summer. We probably will go chasing with him next, that’ll be up to Gavin. Hopefully, we will find a race there for him towards the end of the summer.

Gavin only has the horse for about six weeks, so he needs time with him. We will know more then about where he wants to go.

Tell us more about Gavin and your relationship with him over the years.

I got involved with Gavin in 2018 and the yard was quite small to middle-sized at that stage. When I met him first, he was hugely ambitious for himself and the yard. He is around the same age as me so that made it quite easy for us to communicate and get on well with each other.

I didn’t want to be in a yard that you could get lost in. He has been very good at sourcing horses for me. He has a fantastic team around him as well and I’ve always had a good relationship with everyone I’ve met in the yard. The progression within the yard, in terms of facilities, is unbelievable. The new gallops are sublime. I’ve been very lucky with Gavin, I’ve had over 30 winners with him.

Out of the horses that you are involved with at the moment, which of them in your mind is the most exciting?

I suppose Ask Anything is very exciting. I’m excited about his prospects and what he might be able to achieve. He really could end up being anything.

You’re also involved with Path D’Oroux who is a horse that has brought you and the rest of the connections to fantastic spots this year.

Yeah, he has been placed in Galway, Cheltenham and Aintree, all in the one year. He has been very unlucky though as well. He has bumped into one or two here who just had a nice mark at the time.

To be honest, at the Dublin Racing Festival, for Madara to come over from England with that kind of mark, that was a tough one to take.

Especially given the fact that our lad had been so unlucky when he fell in his run previous to that. I think he will be a very nice horse next year.

We will leave him off for a few months now to freshen up but he should be a very good horse when he comes back out again next year. Hopefully, he will be a bit stronger next season.

Is there anything in particular that you look out for when you are buying a horse?

My preference in buying was always to buy horses from yards in the UK and for Gavin to progress them. That had worked for some time but those horses are gone a bit more expensive now.

Over the last couple of years, I have had to open my wallet a bit further and go for a bit better quality. Preferably something that we can go hurdling with and see how progressive they can be.

Generally, point-to-pointers or something that has come from a smaller yard and looks like it can progress when it comes to Gavin’s.

Over your 10 years of ownership, have you seen many improvements in the ownership raceday experience and, also, are there any areas that can still be improved upon?

I think certainly some tracks could do with improvement but on the flip side I have also seen some great progression at tracks. I would single Naas out as being exceptional.

I just think the facilities that they have there for owners and trainers are super. In general, there are some very good tracks but there are a few that could seriously do with improvement.