While the immediate effect of Gigginstown’s exit from Irish racing won’t be felt by some of those directly linked for a longer period of time, that is not the case for Dot Love and Ciaran Murphy, whose pre-training centre in Charlestown Stud, Co Westmeath, is a vital cog in the Gigginstown operation.

Gigginstown usually send around 50 young horses to begin their careers at Charlestown, with “eight or 10” also coming in at other times of the year for rehabilitation work. Don Cossack, War Of Attrition and Tiger Roll were among the star names who spent time in Charlestown.

“I suppose it came as a big shock to myself and Dot, we weren’t expecting it,” Murphy said. “We’ve been working with Eddie and Michael for 19 years and I suppose we didn’t think it was going to come to an end. But we have absolutely no gripes, and not a cross word to say.”

The Irish Field, May 18th, 2019

IT was always on the cards that Ciaran Murphy would take over the reins at Charlestown Stud someday. He worked for Dot Love since he was a boy, since she spotted him and his twin brother Joseph hunting as teenagers.

Since then, Joseph has gone down the eventing side, with huge success. He rode at the London Olympics and has a number of high-class eventers on his string. But Ciaran was sold on racing. His parents wanted him to learn a trade when he did his leaving certificate, so he did a deal with them. Four years and six months of carpentry and then he’d take stock. He did four years and six months, and two days after, he rang Jonjo O’Neill to go over and work in Jackdaw Castle for three months. Straight away, he knew he’d made the right decision.

He came home after, worked for a couple of other trainers and returned to Dot Love, and he’s been at Charlestown ever since. Love, originally from Denmark, comes from an eventing background but had a remarkable career as a trainer, having taken out her licence during the foot and mouth crisis and given it up during the coronavirus pandemic.

From only a handful of runners, she sent out a highly respectable 70 winners, none more famous than Liberty Counsel, who sprung a 33/1 upset in the 2013 Irish Grand National under Ben Dalton.

That was a great day, and there were plenty of others. All the time, Murphy has absorbed what he could from Love, and the late Joe Moorhead, who worked Charlestown as well, and was an amazing mentor.

Ciaran Murphy and Dot Love with jockey Gavin Ryan after Black Cat Bobby won at Galway \ Healy Racing

While the results from Charlestown elsewhere have been very respectable, there is no doubt that the pre-training business for Gigginstown was a significant income, and needless to say, a huge part of the business.

That Love and Murphy were able to form a relationship with Gigginstown that has lasted over 20 years is surely a fine example of their talents as horse people, given the high standards that operation expects, but there was a sense of doom when Michael O’Leary announced he was going to stop buying new stock. They were among the first in the industry to feel it.

But there is an old Chinese proverb that reads: ‘A crisis is an opportunity riding a dangerous wind’, and three years on since this writer spoke to Murphy after the Gigginstown plug-pull, things look as bright as ever.

“I just said to myself, this is it, I’m going to start training horses here properly and I’m going to make a go of this” Murphy recalls this week. “Obviously we were floored when that happened but it was nobody’s fault. At the time it left a massive hole in our business but we weren’t crying about it because we had 20 fabulous years with Gigginstown, and I’ve learned an awful lot from Eddie and Michael.

“They had a decision to make and they made it and we had to regroup and it took us a little while. I’d like to think we’re out of the woods now. I took every horse I could along the way, good and bad, trained them the best I could and this is where we have ended up a couple of years later.”

The following season after the Gigginstown news, in Love’s final term, Charlestown sent out 10 winners from 77 runners - Love’s highest ever tally. When Murphy took over as trainer at the beginning of 2020, he had two winners in as many months, both coming from the same horse. That horse was Enjoy D’Allen.


Trainer Ciaran Murphy rated the chances of his Randox Grand National contender Enjoy D’Allen so highly, he recommended J.P. McManus should purchase him. With one of jumps racing’s most famous owners now on board, Murphy’s runner is as short as 12/1 to give him a breakthrough success in just his second season

Racing Post, Tuesday

Ronan Groome (RG): So how do you get J.P. McManus to buy a horse off you?

Ciaran Murphy (CM): I thought about the phone call for a long time before I did it.

RG: It’s a ballsy move? You’re kind of putting yourself on the line to an extent?

CM: To be honest with you, I’m from fairly humble beginnings and you know where I am now, I have nothing to lose. We really believe Enjoy D’Allen is a proper staying chaser. I suppose it was a gut feeling and it was an opportunity to get a high profile and very nice and generous owner into the yard. I just took it upon myself and I think this is what I have to do at this stage of my career. If you want to go to the next level you’re going to have to stick your neck out. That was the only way I looked at it. There was no more to it than that.

RG: What was the conversation like?

CM: I suppose the call was the hardest bit but in fairness Frank (Berry, racing manager to McManus) made it so easy. He said the horse was already on their radar, and he was as excited about the proposition as I was. The horse was always for sale and the previous owner is delighted that we’ve been able to keep him in the yard. It’s a win-win for everyone and hopefully our judgement is right - that he can go on and be the chaser we think he is.

Enjoy D'Allen has progressed into a leading player for this year's Grand National \ Healy Racing

RG: So when did you start thinking about Aintree?

CM: After the Irish Grand National (finished third to Freewheelin Dylan). He was only a seven-year-old so it was a big run. What I liked most was his ability to hold his position, with all the hustle and bustle - I think that’s really important. It was the same for him in the Paddy Power.

RG: And that will obviously be a big thing at Aintree?

CM: I think so. Obviously they go very quick early on and they say the fences aren’t as big as they were. I still think it takes plenty of jumping over the first few. You say he’s made for it, and you say this, that and the other but you’re hoping. You won’t really know until he jumps the first few fences over there, how well they take to it.

RG: I read you’re making a National fence at home? The carpentry skills coming in handy?

CM: Ah listen, I suppose we’re in our own space down here in Mullingar and we have a lovely set up and great facilities. The plan is to build a fence as we have two for the Foxhunters as well. We’ll just build a very modest fence with greenery so from a horseman’s point of view I think the horse just needs to have a look at that. I think on the day the horse lights up and likes what he sees he’s going to jump them anyway.

RG: So do you allow yourself to imagine now what it would be like to win the Grand National?

CM: All year you’d be dreaming about what might happen, thinking that if we could ever get there, that he’d have a great chance of running well. I suppose now it’s starting to get exciting and at the stage where we just want to get him there fit and well and let the rest take care of itself. I think it would be a dangerous thing to do now to think that you could win a race like that.

We want to go there and be very competitive and hope for a massive run. If it happened, it would be absolutely magic. It would give us a massive leg up on our short training career so far. That’s really why we put ourselves into this position. We want to move forward and we want to get better horses and we want to attract more owners.

RG: What initially made you want to train?

CM: I suppose, talking about Aintree, when I saw Gordon winning the National with Silver Birch. I was there that day. Gordon came from very humble beginnings and had a very small string of horses. I was in awe of that. I thought it was a massive achievement what he did.

RG: So that gave you belief?

CM: Yeah. And obviously Gordon is a seriously talented trainer and we realise that more and more as the years go by and I don’t put myself in his bracket whatsoever but it does make you realise that it is possible to get a horse to that stage from just a small string of horses, if you can recognise what you have.

RG: And you’ve given yourself that chance already in pretty quick time.

CM: Yeah, it’s making it real at this stage. You can’t be sure about these things, all you can go on is your gut. That’s the way I train, you know. I look at what’s in front of me and I do my best to train them, with the help I have from my staff. We try and train them to the best of our ability and try and sort out what’s what. It was evident to us early on that this horse was a National horse so there’s no point being watery now about it. We do think he’s a lovely staying chaser. If he’s good enough for this race, we’ll see next week.

RG: That type of target training requires great patience. I guess it’s easier with a National contender but in general, do you enjoy that part of the job?

CM: I rode as an amateur rider but I was more of a horseman than a jockey and I wouldn’t be afraid to admit that, and I always liked the jumping side of it and what it took to get a horse there on the big day. It’s something that has stuck with me and it’s something that I’ve learned a lot from the eventing background from a horseman’s point of view. That’s something I’m really putting into my training with the horses. It’s something I really want to use as we go forward.

RG: So how did it come about that you took over the licence from Dot?

CM: I think it was always on the cards and we had discussed it along the way. What I said to Dot was whenever you’re ready let me know and then I’ll be very interested in taking over but not until then. I was quite happy to be behind the scenes or whatever the case may be and try to produce as many winners as we could for Dot when she had the licence. Dot just decided one day I think it’s time now for you to take over so that was really it then. Dot is here every day. She is an outstanding horsewoman and has a great eye for a horse. We’ve always got on very, very well and we’re great friends. For me to have someone like Dot to help me make decisions, it’s invaluable really.

RG: Speaking generally, how have you found training so far? They say it’s never been harder to compete in Ireland. Has training been everything you thought it would be, or better/worse?

CM: I absolutely love it. It’s even better than I thought it would be. It has just propelled me forward and I have a hunger for success inside me. I have loads of goals I would love to achieve in my training career and I’m going to work really hard to do that. I’m getting a brilliant kick out of it.

I’ve also taken on a really good guy to look at race planning and look at pedigrees and go through things like that. I’ve taken as many steps forward as I can to produce the best results I can for owners and I’m working really hard to attract new owners and to keep the existing owners. We have a fabulous team here. They’re very loyal, they work hard and they know the goals I have and what I want to achieve. I think everyone is on the same path.


The immediate path leads to Aintree and who knows where