ROSSCARBERY native Brian Hayes is keeping himself busy riding out a few mornings a week at Emmet Mullins’s racing yard at Closutton.
The popular national hunt jockey has been based in Co Carlow for the past number of years.
“I’m riding out at Emmet’s three or four mornings a week, it’s grand as I don’t have to far to travel, his yard is across the road from where I live.
“Once I’m finished work riding, I do a bit of painting as well as other domestic chores. I suppose during these strange and difficult times its all about keeping yourself busy.”
A concern for quite a few professional jockeys during the lockdown is trying to keep their weight under control, Hayes is finding this important task a tough challenge.
“I normally weigh 10 stone one, which means I can do 10 stone on the track, but since the cessation of racing I am now weighing around 10 stone eight, its very tricky keeping the scales under control.
“I live with Patrick Mullins and every evening we go for a 5k run which obviously keeps our fitness levels up and keeps the pounds off. I know a lot of other riders that are struggling with weight issues now, it’s a big worry.”
The west Cork man is looking forward to racing resuming when ever that maybe, he feels that the meetings that were held behind closed doors prior to the lockdown were policed superbly, which could stand to the sport recommencing shortly.
“Before the sport was stopped there were ten meeting held very successfully behind closed doors.
“They were run very well, everyone followed the very strict guidelines to the letter of the law. There was very little contact with anyone.
“You went into the weigh room and got your saddle, then stayed in your car until it was your race, you went straight into the parade ring and up on your mount, once the race finished back to your car while you waited for your next race.”
“On account that we already followed firm guidelines I feel that this will be our saving grace and we could resume before the end of June.”
Having said all that the former Carberry Rangers player believes that there are more important issues in the country right now other than racing.
“People involved in racing sometimes live in a bubble, we feel that nothing else matters, all we talk about are horses and racing, but right now as we all know there are far more important matters to concern ourselves with.
“The nation’s health is the most important thing right now. Racing can wait and when the time is right, we will be ready to resume.”
Hayes was happy with the way last season worked out for him, he secured rides from a host of different trainers, the highlight was winning a Grade 3 contest at Cork for champion trainer Willie Mullins.
“My agent Garry Cribbin does a great job for me; he gets me on a lot of horses for trainers all over the country. I ride a lot for James Dullea who is based in Bandon, I know James for years, we are good friends. I suppose the highlight last year was winning on Braham Bull for Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci at Mallow, it was great to land a good Grade 3.”
Hayes’ love affair with horses and racing started several years ago in his native west Cork.
“When I turned 14-years of age, I joined Thomas O’Leary’s racing yard in Clonakilty, from the moment I walked into his Castleview stables I was bitten by the racing bug.
“Thomas is best known for sending out back to back Thyestes Chase winners with Priest’s Leap in 2008 and 2009.Thomas was a huge influence on me deciding to becoming a jockey, he gave me some wonderful advise, including telling me to spend some time at Jim Bolger’s yard.”
Brian Hayes believes he’s got the best job in the world, riding horses and getting paid for it, his hopes for next season are quite attainable for the gifted rider.
“I just want to ride winners, stay in one piece and perhaps to ride a Grade 1 winner would be an added bonus.”