CORK’S Conor Ring is a stable jockey at the grade one-winning yard of Welsh trainer, Evan Williams, and he has ridden winners in each of the last nine National Hunt seasons.
Earlier this year, the Freemount-native completed a hat-trick of victories aboard Ballybreen, when he partnered the son of Gold Well to handicap chase successes at Hereford, Exeter and Carlisle.
Ring had been building momentum, on his quest towards riding out his claim, before racing was brought to a halt, as a result of the Coronavirus, earlier this spring.
The 27-year-old rider is now looking to next season. With 58 career winners to his name, he is less than 20 wins away from the golden target of 75, which would see him reach another milestone, and lose his 3lb claim in the saddle.
Completing that rite of passage tops his list of targets. Plus, he’s also itching to continue his association with the in-form Ballybreen, whose form figures from his runs this year read; 1,1,1,2,1, 2.
“When things get back going, I’ll be looking forward to Ballybreen, personally. I think he was on an upward curve. I think we found the key to him and there were still some races in him.
“He was a tricky customer. It took a while for things to come right with him. Everything fell right at Hereford when we put the blinkers on him. We added a cross noseband as well.
“It brought about a massive change-around for him. It’s a pity (that racing came to an end), as I was starting to have a few winners. I was starting to have plenty of rides again, and trying to nick another few winners here and there. But that’s the way things go.
“Definitely, (riding out my claim is) the big thing. I’d love to lose my claim. That’s my aim.
“I’ll just keep tipping away with it and try to get as many rides as I can. I’ll keep trying to nick a few winners here and there. We’ll work towards the 75 winners.”
That jump racing is finished until July means that the Corkman is now multi-tasking, for the time being, at Williams’ Vale of Glamorgan yard.
While he misses the routine of exercising horses and competing on the racecourse, he is adapting to the new schedule.
“I’m still working away with Evan. There’s plenty of painting and power-washing to be done!
“We’ve got a few cows to calve as well. That keeps me going. I like the bit of farming, as I grew up on a farm.
“It’s nice to do something like that. So, it’s not too bad. I’m kept busy.
“I was riding out for a bit because we weren’t sure what was going on. But with no racing until July, we turned everything out.
“I’ll always try and keep the fitness levels up, as we are going to be off for a long time. But I enjoy going for a run and keeping the exercise routine up as well.”
Over the past season, the yard sent out 49 winners and was on course to surpass the half-century mark, for the 14th season in succession.
This season’s highlight for the stable arrived at the highest level, courtesy of Esprit Du Large, who triumphed in a Sandown grade one, before Christmas. The six-year-old
is one of a number of Williams’ charges who Ring is excited to seeing next term.
“It was a brilliant year for the yard. Esprit Du Large was brilliant that day, in Sandown, winning the Grade One Henry VIII Novices’ Chase. He was impressive and he’s a very nice horse.
“There were plenty of horses there again to run until the end of the season. But we’ve got some very nice horses to come back. Obviously, Esprit Du Large is going to be a very exciting horse again next year.
“We have plenty of nice novice chasers in as well; the likes of Coconut Splash and Fado Des Brosses.”
Ring completed his own career highlight, in January 2014, as a 7lb claimer, when he delivered 16/1 shot Wychwoods Brook to victory, in the Grade Two Peter Marsh Handicap Chase, at Haydock.
That big-race success was the second leg of an across-the-card double.
Earlier that afternoon, the Cardiff-based pilot partnered 22/1 chance Extreme Impact, to take the opening handicap hurdle.