RACING has been in my blood ever since my father Ted introduced me to the sport as a kid.

He had a number of renowned friends in the industry and we’d often go racing with the likes of Mick O’Toole, Johnny Roe and Dessie Hughes.

I rode out when I was younger, but as I say, it was the horses who got too small for me, not me too big for them!

I transitioned into the insurance industry and have been a broker for the last 35 years. Our broking company, O’Driscoll O’Neil, was acquired by Arachas six weeks before Covid unleashed, and I’ve certainly enjoyed having more time to head to the tracks.

Cloud Dancer

My first taste of ownership was with a horse called Cloud Dancer. My wife Geraldine and I agreed to get involved with this horse after a day out at Punchestown, but like many great days out at Punchestown, it’s hard to recall the day in its entirety.

Cloud Dancer was in training with Kevin Ryan over in the UK. As enjoyable as this was, I really wanted a horse in Ireland, a horse I could watch working in the mornings and get the full ownership experience from.

I approached Dessie Hughes about the prospect of joint-owning a horse together and Captain Archeas was the result. He was my first Irish winner and the first winner I saw live!

What made his win all the more special, was having my two lads Gareth and Ross there.

Enjoy the ride

Racing is all about the good days and my advice to perspective owners will always be to celebrate the highs and enjoy the ride. The good days are few and far between.

One day that will long be treasured by my wife Geraldine and I is the day Liberty Dance won her bumper at Fairyhouse last December. We named Liberty Dance after Geraldine’s mother, Betty Doyle, and her win came on the one-year anniversary of Betty’s burial.

We didn’t even see her past the line this day we were that emotional.

Geraldine and I are some of the lucky ones in this game however, as not everyone will get to celebrate a winner. That’s why, I also try to enjoy other people’s wins, with particular reference to the win’s that are good for the sport.

Our horse Fakiera came second at Fairyhouse last Sunday and I was probably just as happy as if we’d of won. I was delighted for the lads in the Pioneer syndicate, who won the race with Punitive.

The win brought joy to so many people in the Syndicate and it was great for racing. I was just as happy when Barry Connell won the following race to claim his first Grade 1 as a trainer.

The day before, Barry(Connell) had a horse unseat his rider on his second start back after a two-year absence.

People like Barry keep the industry going and he deserved that win on Sunday.


Patience is well and truly a virtue and an it’s an invaluable one to have in the game of ownership.

Injuries are the biggest drawback that I’ve encountered and quite simply, they shatter dreams. Back in April, I thought I was going to win my first Grade 1 when Redemption Day headed Facile Vega with a furlong to go in the Champion Bumper at Punchestown.

We came second that day but Redemption Day has been one of the only horses to really challenge Facile Vega in his career to date. Needless to say, receiving a phone call from Willie Mullins soon after to tell me he was out for a year and a half was crushing.

I know you need to adopt a pragmatic approach when dealing with injuries, but they break dreams nonetheless.

You’ve got to have patience with horses, we all want to run tomorrow and we all want to have winners.

Redemption Day is an incredibly exciting horse and I just pray we can get him back to the track.

Choosing trainers

I have horses in training with Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins. Everyone talks about honesty and integrity within a trainer and I definitely wouldn’t deal with anyone lacking these values.

Accessibility to the horses and communication are also paramount for me. It’s simple things like returning my phone calls and telling me when horses just don’t have the talent. If they’re not good enough, I’d rather just know and move on.

My wife Geraldine picked our colours. The stars on the front and the back of the silks are for our sons Gareth and Ross and I will certainly never change them. If I do, I think I’ll be divorced!

Tim’s question for the racecourse

I’ve always had strong belief that owners should be able to enter racecourses for free, irrespective of whether or not they have a runner that day.

I understand this can’t happen for the festivals and big race days, but why not for 60 or 70% of meetings throughout the year?

I’m semi-retired now and if I could get a guest and myself into meetings during the week using my AIR card (Association of Irish Racecourses), I’d be much more inclined to go.

I wouldn’t expected by any means to be treated like an owner this day and to be given the full wine and dine experience, but free entry would go along way.

What’s more, is if I did attend with a friend and saw Gordon Elliott or Willie Mullins, I would no doubt converse with them and introduce them to my guest. Introducing more people to trainers may help encourage more owners into the game.

If owners got free entry they would bring more people into courses, helping to build atmosphere and connect more people to the sport. These guests could be likely to go on and buy a ticket for the next meeting at that course.

Covid was a difficult time for owners, being unable to get down and see their horses.

Training bills were through the roof, and for the majority, trainers were the only ones allowed into the courses.

It would be great to give something back to people who stayed loyal to the game.