THE latest jumps season will be remembered for a variety of reasons. For Phillip Enright, it will go down as the best of his career, so far.
With a tally of 37 winners in Ireland, big-race victories across Galway, Listowel and Tipperary, a top-10 finish in the jump jockeys’ championship and a double across the water for good measure; the Dunmanway-based jockey was arguably in the form of his life.
It was his busiest season, too, with the 481 mounts he accumulated in 2019-20 making him the most-utilised rider in Ireland last season.
A real hard-working sportsman, the 32 year old rider’s graft was rewarded in spades last term.
The winners started to flow in the summer, which led to notable successes in grade b handicaps at both the Galway and Listowel festivals.
His rich run of form continued into the National Hunt season-proper and right up until the shutdown of sport, with the Kerryman among the winners at Wexford in mid-March.
Staying fit and getting aboard better horses allowed him to thrive.
“I was lucky, the end of the previous season finished off well, and then the summer got rolling.
“I had more winners during the summer than normal, which got the ball rolling for the winter.
“Great Trango (trained by Harry Kelly), my first Galway festival winner, was the start of it.
“He won a big handicap on the Saturday, which kind of puts you out there. From there, I went to Listowel and won the big handicap on Davids Charm (for John Joe Walsh). From there then, he went on and won at Tipperary on Super Sunday, which is kind of the start of the jumps season.
“I was rolling away during the summer, got a couple of nice winners and on the days when everyone is watching for all the good horses coming out.
“When Davids Charm won the grade three hurdle, that really put me out there again for the winter.
“Thankfully, I was injury-free all year. Ken Whelan, my agent was doing a great job. I’m very lucky, I’ve some great, loyal supporters, who I have ridden for, for many years, and their horses were in great form, which makes it that bit easier.
“When you’re riding winners, it’s easy to get rides,” he added.
The bulk of his winners last season arrived via horses trained locally, with Cork handlers such as James Dullea, Terence O’Brien, Eoghan O’Grady, Jimmy Mangan, Rodger Sweeney, Robert Tyner and John Joe Walsh all pitching in.
Enright also bagged a brace of winners in the UK, taking his overall tally for the campaign to 39.
He linked up with trainer, Tony Martin, to complete a double at the Scottish track of Musselburgh, in January, when he partnered The Mouse Doctor and Good Time Jonny to their respective victories.
“As Richard Johnson ended up going to Chepstow that day, Tony rang me to tell me that the horses were running on Friday, and if I’d like to go over.
“I was delighted and I jumped at the opportunity. It’s nice to ride in Britain, too,” he said.
“I had ridden a few winners there before, but I was never in Musselburgh.
“When you come back with a winner, it’s a bonus,” he added.
A break from such a demanding schedule may have been welcomed initially, but Enright can’t wait to get out of lockdown mode, and get back racing again.
“When you’re riding plenty of winners, you don’t ever want to stop, because you’re always afraid that when racing comes back, things mightn’t pick up again as quick.
“I was so busy, and things were going well. I love going racing and I’m lucky enough in that I don’t struggle with my weight much.
“I’m taking it handy; there’s not much else you can do really. It’s boring! I do a good bit of walking with the dog and a small bit of running. I’m cutting the lawn and watching it grow again to see if I can cut it!
“You enjoy the first week off and then you start itching a bit. I’d definitely prefer to be racing than sitting at home.”