IN the almost six years since Jamie Codd joined The Big Interview roll of honour to to mark achieving a lifetime ambition, much has happened since on a personal and professional level, so much of it glorious, but some of it still achingly painful.

It is interesting that what brought us to the home he shared with Robyn, who is now his wife, and that has been supplemented in the meantime by the arrival of daughters Lottie (three) and Penny (two), as well as playful terrier Timmy (two), is what he credits with the phenomenal run of subsequent success.

In 2014, he had just supplanted Derek O’Connor as champion point-to-point jockey and recorded more than 600 winners between the flags. Under rules, he could boast two Cheltenham successes and Grade 1 glory. For an amateur, it was stellar.

Fast forward to today and the 900 barrier in points has been brushed through, Paddy Mullins’ dominance on the track as champion amateur halted in 2017, the tally of Cheltenham triumphs multiplied to nine and the Grade 1 victories to five.


“If I hadn’t won the point-to-point title I think I would be retired now. I genuinely would. I put so much effort into it for that five years before that. That was just a weight off my shoulders. I was borderline obsessed with it at that time. Since then everything has mellowed a good bit. Bringing my family into it, my kids, my wife Robyn. Everything has just mellowed. Because of that I think things have just… I do think that point-to-point championship let everything out.

Jamie Codd became The Irish Field Champion Rider in point-to-points in 2014, a title he was "borderline obsessed with" \ Healy Racing

“Did I want to win two or three? The drive wasn’t there to do a Derek on it and win nine or 10. I just wanted to win one. (To win) the amateur title as well. That was another big one. But definitely the point-to-point championship was the making of it.”

He had been reared in that scene and worked along with older brother William in producing equine talent. Dual Grade 1 winner Tranquil Sea was a standout, accumulating more than half a million euro for connections.

By horrible coincidence, today marks the second anniversary of the death of Codd’s brother William, who had spoken publicly about his battles with depression in a bid to help others.

It would have been understandable to beg another date when the unsuspecting approach was made because this will be a difficult day for him and his family. But he has processed much of the pain and will be riding at Leopardstown this afternoon.

He has never been one to hide his feelings and when was interviewed after Envoi Allen’s stunning Champion Bumper triumph in front of parents Billy and Mary Frances last March, it was a struggle to get the words out.

“Mam and Dad were there. They haven’t been to Cheltenham in a few years. It was a year-and-a-bit since William passed. The fact that they were there, Cheltenham winner, it just all came out.

“We think about him every single day. It just came out more that day that Mam and Dad were. That is just the way it is. That is what sport does to you, and that is what emotion does to you. I would be like that anyway, I wear my heart on my sleeve.”

Mental illness

While acknowledging the real scourge of mental illness, comprehending the depths it can take someone is not so easy.

“It is a massive thing, as is cancer or any of those things. Life has gone now that everything is so high pressure. Everything is there to be looked at, to be analysed. Life has become more expensive. Just so many more pressures on families and people.

“People definitely need an avenue that they can go down to speak with people, to get professional help. It can definitely do no harm. For me, personally, I didn’t understand it. I probably still don’t understand it. I understand it more but I didn’t understand it enough back then to say what way it should have gone.

“Everybody gets down. You are not human unless you get down. But a lot of people are able to bring themselves back up and keep kicking on. It is those people that find it hard, that stay down for that few days that need help. I don’t know. It is a very, very hard one to understand.

“I won’t lie, the amount of friends, family, community, the racing industry… it’s incredible. We have a small community at home there. And the support that they have given Mam and Dad and my sisters Lisa and Zoe, it’s just incredible.”

Envoi Allen and Jamie Codd winning the Cheltenham Champion Bumper last year wih his parents Billy and Mary Frances present \ Healy Racing

Preferring to be acting than alone for too long with his own thoughts, he was back racing in Thurles within a week of William’s burial.

This is a busy weekend too, with the first of the 2020 four-year-old maidens in the point-to-point sphere taking place tomorrow. He will have two rides at Knockmullen House, Wexford before zipping up to Leopardstown to take the mount on the unbeaten mare Bigbadandbeautiful.

It is an exciting time for a man long connected to the Denis Murphy operation. He has stewarded future Grade 1 winners Joncol and Finian’s Oscar in their days through the nursery. Having piloted Hedgehunter, Missed That, Shaneshill, Cause Of Causes, On The Fringe, Fayonagh and Envoi Allen among many others, he knows quality.

“There’s a lot of good horses that are coming through the point-to-points that are going to be out at the weekend. The results this year have been phenomenal. There’s a high percentage of those top races that have been won by past point-to-pointers.”

It is why he has no concerns about the people operating at the top end getting overexposed.

“The likes of Denis Murphy, Colin Bowe, Donnacha Doyle... This sales thing that is going on, it is probably 10 years old now. But they started buying those €10,000 or €15,000 stores. They were their practice. They got on well, the business model is there and now they have progressed to buying the more expensive store. They are fine, they are 100% in what they are doing.

“It is maybe somebody that is getting in new and fresh having to give that €40,000 and €50,000 to compete with the boys that haven’t the practice might need to be more careful. But when you look down through the entries and you see Donnacha, Colin, Denis Murphy. Then you go down through what the stores cost, you are probably going to have the guts of 10 runners costing €400,000 or €500,000 before you go anywhere. But they have worked though it themselves.


“It is like a trainer starting off. You start off with your handicappers and then you progress and then you get your better bumper horses. Then you get novice hurdlers and hopefully graded horses. They have practised on those stores at the start and their business model is safe.

“Warren Ewing would be another one. He buys a few foals as well. The Crawfords. Wilson Dennison buys his foals and then progresses on. I think those lads that are up in the numbers now, they are fairly safe because they know what they are doing and have made enough money now to be in right as well.”

Codd has a few interests himself with Murphy, buying some foals to sell as three-year-olds and then acquiring a few more stores to sell through the point-to-point field. The Wexfordian is also an agent for Tattersalls, where his contacts and knowledge are invaluable in attracting the cream of the crop to the major horses-in-training sales at Cheltenham and Ascot.

The association with Gordon Elliott goes back to riding the Cullentra House man’s first point-to-point winner, Team Chaser, at Kirkistown in 2006, 11 months before Silver Birch catapulted the young handler into the stratosphere in the Grand National. Now, they are an irresistible force in bumpers.

Le Breuil and Jamie Codd (right) jump upsides Discorama and Barry O'Neill in an epic finish to the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham last year \ Healy Racing

So while he doesn’t put himself under the kind of pressure that went with becoming leading point-to-point rider anymore, it should not be mistaken for a drop in ambition or intent when getting the leg up. The results tell you that.

It pays to follow The Coddfather.

National Hunt Chase

“MY first thought was when it all happened was they were very severe on a few lads. It is a four-mile chase, the ground was soft, it’s a war of attrition. But it has never happened like that before. It was a freak year. Just to make a decision on that one race, that one day, I thought it was very, very hard. If it happened again, then you make your decision but just to judge it on one year.

“My fear initially when everything happened was that they would take it off us altogether. That was my big worry. They have made a few amendments. Three-mile-six or whatever it is, it’s grand. We are riding in Cheltenham and, it’s grand. There are a few riders who have loads and loads of experience that are going to miss out and I feel sorry for those lads, with the qualifications.

“Carefully Selected had to run (last Sunday) in Naas to make the race. It is going to be harder for trainers as well to do it but we are in Cheltenham.


“They definitely brought unnecessary negative attention to racing. Dec Lavery’s ban was just terrible. I know he got it rescinded but that was just ridiculous what went on there.

“The thing I am most proud of is that Le Breuil and Discorama came up the straight, myself and Barry O’Neill, and we got no whip bans. I am very, very proud of that fact and Barry should be as well.”

Gordon Elliott

“HE is just very driven. He eats, sleeps, breathes racing. He likes his GAA out the other side of it. But racing is No 1. And if you asked him just here right now, how many winners he has for the year in England and Ireland, he will rattle off exactly what he has and he wants more. It is just ambition and drive.”

Gordon Elliott " eats, sleeps, breathes racing" \ Healy Racing

Best horse

“CAUSE Of Causes is on top. For my career to come across a Cause Of Causes, three Cheltenham Festival winners, second in an Aintree National. He is the best horse I have ever ridden.”