FLAT racing resumed last Monday and there are plenty of top-quality races to look forward to over the coming months both here at home and cross-channel.
Ross Coakley is a jockey to follow over the course of the domestic flat season.
The talented rider has enjoyed a fruitful career over the past number of terms, his services are in constant demand by several of the sports leading trainers.
It was always on the cards from early on that Coakley would become a jockey. He was raised around horses and his father was an amateur rider back in the day. The young Dubliner spent all his summer holidays in Glenbeigh and while he was in the Kingdom, he attended a local riding school.
“Once I learned how to ride properly in Glenbeigh I tried my hand at pony racing. I spent a few summers competing on the southern circuit.
“I made a lot of friends and gained valuable experience and I had plenty of success.
“I rode over 100 winners on the flapping scene.
“Once I outgrew the ponies, I took out an apprentice licence and was attached to Denis Cullen’s yard. Denis was very good to me and he gave me my first ride under rules.
“I decided to stay in school and finish my Leaving Cert; Denis was very patient with me and allowed me to finish my studies.
“Denis is first and foremost a national hunt trainer, so I made the decision to leave his yard and I joined flat trainer Ken Condon.”
At that time Ken Condon had over 50 horses in training and his yard was firing on all cylinders.
Coakley fell in for a lot of rides for the yard inside the rails.
“Ken was great to work for. He was very good to me and put me up on a lot of his charges.
“He is a very talented trainer that has won Group and listed races. He gets the best out of horses and they all seem to perform for him."
As the economic crisis hit the country rides started to dry up for Coakley at Condon’s yard.
The talented jockey was on the verge of heading across the Irish Sea to ply his trade when he received a phone call from Upton trainer John Murphy.
“I received a call from John Murphy about a job just as I was planning to pack my bags and leave the country in search of opportunities in the UK. It was an offer that I couldn’t refuse.
“I jumped in the car and headed for Cork to meet up with Mr Murphy. I was very impressed with his set up and with the quality of horses that he has in his care.
“I gladly accepted his exciting offer. I settled into his state-of-the-art training facility straight away.
“Everybody in Cork was very good to me.
“Mr Murphy was very generous, and he presented me with some wonderful opportunities.”
During the quiet period of the flat racing calendar Coakley began to realise that he was based a good distance from the heart of flat racing in Ireland. The ambitious rider wanted to relocate back to the Curragh which is the centre of all the action.
“I missed the Curragh and buzz that’s attached to it. I applied for a position as an apprentice at Johnny Murtagh’s racing yard.
“I was over the moon when I was accepted. He is one of the best jockeys ever to have worn silks. He is a brilliant and progressive trainer.”
Coakley has ridden his fair share of winners over the past number of years including winning the Cambridgeshire in 2017 on Elusive Time, he is currently been kept busy between the successful yards of John Oxx and Michael Halford.
The personable jockey has ridden in the famous silks of Godolphin and the Aga Khan and he has also gained valuable experience riding work in Australia with Gai Waterhouse and John Sadlier.
His 95th winner, and his final victory with a claim, came at Dundalk when he won the Apprentice Handicap on the Michael Halford-trained Miss Snossyboots on March 22, 2019.
With the backing of the yards he is currently associated with, the 26-year-old rider is sure to enjoy plenty of winners this season.