NATIONAL hunt jockey David Noonan is keeping himself busy by riding out at one of the UK’s most successful flat yards.
The Kilbrin native has been plying his trade as a professional jumps jockey for the past seven years, but when the sport when into shutdown in Britain he quickly realised he needed to keep himself busy on a daily basis.
“I am riding out five mornings a week at Richard Hannon’s flat yard, I need to keep myself busy as well as keeping my fitness levels to where they should be.
“I never rode or worked at a flat yard before and I am finding the experience to be very enjoyable.
“The hours are long, I’m in my car every morning at 4.10am, Hannon’s training facilities are miles from where I’m based, and they start work very early.”
After riding work on some of the most gifted and promising flat horses in the sport, it’s back into the car for the long trip home, but Noonan’s day still isn’t finished.
“When I arrive home, I try to do some work around the house before I go for a run, I have also taken to the bike lately and enjoy a cycle as much as I can.
“It’s important to keep my fitness levels in check, I’m lucky that I don’t have an issue with my weight, however, you still must keep an eye on it. I also feel that during these difficult times that it is important to keep an eye on mental health.
“There is a lot of support there for lads in the sport that may feel they need assistance, I also feel that it is very important to ring friends or even text them on a regular basis just to keep in touch and let them know that we are all in this together and that we are not alone.”
Richard Hannon’s yard is one of the leading flat stables in the UK, each season they are responsible for a host of big races winners. David Noonan is no stranger to working at world-renowned yards since the north Cork man arrived in the UK, he is based at David Pipe’s national hunt yard at Pond House in Somerset.
The personable rider has enjoyed his share of success during the past seven years.
“I was fortunate to land the UK’s amateur jockeys’ title when I first arrived over to Britain, it’s a title that I’m very proud of, since losing my claim I have ridden some nice winners.
“I have been lucky enough to ride winners on Saturdays which on account of the television coverage helps to boost my profile as a jockey, this has resulted in me getting plenty of nice rides from a host of diffident trainers.
“I have ridden in a couple of Grand Nationals and have ridden at the last few Cheltenham Festivals.
“This season was my best numerically, I recorded 23 winners which I’m very pleased with on account of the wet winter we had, we lost a good few meetings and with the coronavirus outbreak it caused the season to end prematurely.”
David Noonan believes that the extra long break the national hunt horses are enjoying will result in them returning to training stronger and healthier, he also believes that it won’t be long before racing resumes — possibly behind closed doors.
“This week we learned that national hunt racing has been given a preliminary date of the first of July for racing to start back, at least now we have something to aim at.
“The hardest thing about the current situation is the uncertainty, flat racing was given May 1 as a start date a few weeks ago but obviously this has now changed, all we can do is stay safe and play it by ear.”
Noonan is highly thought of by many involved in the sport, the naturally gifted horseman has a very bright future ahead of him, with the backing of one of the most powerful yards in the sport and the encouragement of other leading trainers, the former Croke Rovers player is sure to reach the upper echelons of his chosen career.