FINNY Maguire has shone at many racecourses across the country.
But Galway and Leopardstown are becoming his favourite tracks.
The Corkman enjoyed success at both venues again, last month, demonstrating further why he’s one of the go-to jockeys when it comes to bumpers and qualified riders’ contests.
Maguire rode a brilliant race aboard the Tony Mullins-trained Princess Zoe, bringing the mare soaring home to win the much-coveted Connacht Hotel (QR) Handicap. That Galway triumph was the jockey’s sixth career festival success at Ballybrit.
‘‘It was great to get the winner on the mare in Galway. It’s definitely the career highlight so far. It’s a pity that there was no crowd. But you’d take it anyway.
"I was just lucky enough to get the ride in the first place. She was probably still well-in (at the weights as she doubled up later in the week under Joey Sheridan) when I won on her. It’s great that I got the leg over her when she was still a bit unexposed," Maguire said.
Earlier in the month, he partnered Dermot Weld’s Tandem to victory, in the Holden Plant Rentals (QR) Race, at Leopardstown.
The 22-year-old pilot previously recorded a hat-trick of wins at the 2018 Christmas Festival, at the Foxrock venue. He also had a grade two win at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival, in 2019, aboard Santa Rossa.
‘‘Lucky enough, I had two good rides (for this summer’s wins so far). The horse I won on in Leopardstown won well; it was a simple ride really. I’m just very lucky and very thankful. To be fair, both Leopardstown and Galway have been fairly lucky for me.
"I’d my second-ever winner at Galway for Mr Weld. I’d only had a handful of rides before that, as I was only 16 at the time.
"So that was a massive start to my career. Leopardstown has been very good as well. I had a great Christmas there a couple of years ago with three winners," he said.
Other big-race successes for the Lombardstown native have arrived aboard Medalla De Oro, in Epsom’s ‘Amateur Derby’, and via Without Limites, in Limerick’s Listed Kevin McManus Bookmaker Champion INH Flat Race.
There have been many memorable days already, even at this relatively early stage of his career. However, the hunt for the next winner is what continues to motivate him.
"You never know where the next one is going to come from and you can’t sit back and expect it to fall on your lap. You have to go out, put in the ground work in the morning and ride out for trainers.
"You can’t expect to lie in bed all day and be given winners. You need to go out and work for them.
"It’s great when you have been working hard, you get a bit of luck and you get a nice winner. That makes it all worth it, because it can get tough when you’re going racing every day and horses are running bad.
"That tests your patience,’’ he said.
Having graduated university with a degree in Food Science, two years ago, Maguire holds other options outside of racing.
But, with around 60 career winners to his name thus far, he’s determined to continue his rise through the racing ranks, for the foreseeable future.
This season, he has started off on a flyer, and is in high-demand from trainers around the island.
"I’m riding out every day now. I’m riding out for Jessie Harrington, John Ryan and Liz Doyle. Between the three of them, I’m kept fairly busy Monday to Saturday.
"I could be even meeting lads in the afternoon on the Curragh to ride work and that. I haven’t used the degree yet. Maybe, sometime down the line, it might come in handy.
"I might use it for something. But it’s great to be busy. I’m happy with how things have gone since racing resumed.
"The season was cut short last year, but I had a fairly lean year; only two bumper winners. I was putting myself under pressure a bit to get a good start this season," Maguire said.
A good start he certainly has had.