How did you get interested in racehorse ownership initially?

I was working for a couple of developers that had some very very good horses. The likes of Quevega. You start following them when they start winning. That’s where the interest came from. I jumped in at the lower end into ownership with some different horses down through the years.

We had some success. In 2008 I was involved in my first horse, William Wordsworth. He won a small handicap at Naas in January 2011. Then I had a horse named Dalasiri who won a couple of races for us. He was pretty decent, that horse. Peter The Mayo Man won a fairly nice bumper for us at Fairyhouse.

Tell us how the Bet Small Win Big Syndicate came about?

There is a group of us who have gone to Cheltenham in November every year for the last 10 years. All the lads were interested in racing but most of them had never been involved in ownership before. We were always talking about getting a little horse to have a bit of fun with, to see the likes of Galway and Killarney.

We bumped into Ray Cody at Cheltenham one year and got on very well with him. We kept meeting him at Cheltenham year after year. We went down to him at one stage and he agreed that he would keep a box for us if we found a horse. I got in touch with a good friend of mine, Aubrey McMahon of Temple Bloodstock.

We had a bit of a chat and spoke about a budget and what type of horse we were looking for. In fairness to Aubrey, he scoured the sales for different animals and we went through quite a few before landing on Alphonse Le Grande.

Tell us a bit more about Alphonse Le Grande himself?

He wasn’t an expensive horse. He was relatively cheap. He is by Sea The Stars and he was bought very shrewdly by Aubrey for 10 grand. We hadn’t got him maybe four or five weeks and he went to Dundalk when trained by Ray and won. To say that he surprised us all that night would be an understatement.

It’s not too often that you buy a horse for that kind of money and he goes and wins first time out. We knew then that we had something to work with anyway.

The horse went to Tony (Martin) after that and we tried him over hurdles on a few occasions. He is a horse who wants the sun on his back.

You had a great experience and win with Alphonse Le Grande at Chester recently. Tell us about the experience of going there with a runner?

Chester was an eye-opener. It’s a beautiful track and a beautiful town. If you didn’t even have a runner it’s still a lovely place to go and visit. The fact that we had a runner, we got to see the very best of it. You’re in there in the middle of the track, having your bit of grub and you are very well taken care of. I would recommend to anybody who hasn’t been there to go.

What were the confidence levels like going over?

We were very confident going to Dundalk a couple of weeks previously. Seamie Heffernan rode him that night and he won very well. He got eight or 9lbs for that. Chester was a step up for him. He was going from a Class 5 to a Class 2. The trip was up about six furlongs too so there were an awful lot of unknowns there.

I suppose we were always going with the hope that he could run well. We had more positives than negatives. He had won well on his previous outing. We had a good jockey on board, a good draw, and good ground. You often see over hurdles and over those longer trips that Irish horses get more off the British handicapper.

His mark in Ireland and England heading over was 73 so in that sense I suppose we were well handicapped. The only doubt was the trip, no one truly knew whether he would stay that extreme distance.

He stayed well and won well which leaves him with an awful lot of options.

Have you looked at what might be next on the agenda for him?

There are a few plans, but as you know, a week is a long time in racing. Tony Martin knows these races and he can look six to nine months in advance. Tony was very unlucky not to win the Chester Cup itself with Zanndabad. When he has the right horse there is no better man to plot a path for a horse.

In fairness to him, he said straight away at the debrief that Newcastle would be next. The horse had barely crossed the line at that stage. We’re not rated high enough to get into the Northumberland Plate, so we will more than likely go for the consolation race.

At the moment all roads lead to Newcastle. The horse has been on the go for a while now and he will need a break at some stage. If he stays in the same form that he was at Chester, we will have a live one there to go to war with every time.

From your involvement in ownership over the years, is there anything that racecourses could do to improve the owner’s race day experience?

Look, I suppose there can be improvements in a lot of areas and it is probably all down to money. If you don’t have owners, you don’t have racing and you need to be looking after them. It’s an expensive hobby.

We are lucky that our lad is after winning three races and is paying his own way, which doesn’t generally happen. I have to give credit to Chester, it is probably the best experience I have had at a racetrack anywhere.

The sun was shining and, obviously, everything went right for us on the day but, as well as that, we were really very well looked after.