This week’s 30 under 30 features former amateur jockey Luke O’Neill. Last year Luke was the Chairman of the Trinity College Horse Racing Society and this summer will be completing an Internship at Horse Racing Ireland.

How you got involved in racing/sales/breeding?

I have been involved in racing all of my life as my father Eoghan is a racehorse trainer and my mother Melissa is his secretary. Dad was in his second season training when I was born so it has never not been around. As I got older, my involvement in the yard has grown, taking on more responsibility and learning more every day. Both of my parents have been very supportive and generous in giving me opportunities to enhance my skill set in lots of different environments, be it at the sales both buying and selling, at the races, or in the yard.

Who helped you along the way or gave you advice?

My parents have been the biggest help to me but I have learned a huge amount from other people too. I have been lucky enough to ride out for other trainers such as Philip Hobbs, Mark Cahill, Andrew Kinirons, Martin Brassil and Michael O’Callaghan and have worked at the sales for Ian Hanamy of Haras des Loges and Derek Barry of Boston Stables. I have picked up a little bit from all of these people but am fully aware that you never stop learning! Others in the industry in general have always been very welcoming with advice when I have approached them and I am very grateful for that.

What challenges/problems have you faced so far?

The main challenge I have had to face is trying to balance college with the horses and staying on top of all of the racing and sales results but it is something I really love so I always try and find time to do it. Giving up my amateur jockey’s licence was not something that was easy but unfortunately, I just became too heavy for the flat. I was lucky enough to ride a winner when I was 18 but it is something I would love to do again. Over the past year, I was the Chairperson of the Trinity College Horse Racing Society which was also a big commitment but it worked out well in the end, with trips to the Arc and Cheltenham proving very popular amongst students.

What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to get involved in the industry professionally?

I would say to start out somewhere small where you will get the chance to learn and to take small steps before deciding what route you want to take. If you’re passionate about something, then pursue it. Meeting people and making connections is also vital; the sales are great for this and can be a nice break from college or school as well. I have been fortunate enough to have been a bid spotter at Goffs over the last couple of years which puts you in a great position to meet new people.

What are your hopes for this year?

I am really looking forward to the summer where I am completing internships at KPMG and Horse Racing Ireland. It will be interesting to work in an office environment and acquire some new skills while meeting new people. I am very grateful to both companies for the opportunity. I will also be helping dad at the weekends and riding out a bit before heading to work, so hopefully we have a good season too. I will be embarking on my final year in college in September which will be a bit of a challenge after so long off but it’s always nice to have the horses there to have a break from it. On another note, I’d really like to see the Horse Racing Society in Trinity continue to grow and get as much positive exposure for racing as possible with the college community.