Freemount jockey Conor Ring: We'll never take our sport for granted again

Cork native continues to enjoy his stint competing in Britain
Freemount jockey Conor Ring: We'll never take our sport for granted again

Aidan Morrissey and Dan O'Connor, Kilbrin GAA, were stewards on duty at the Duhallow Point to Point races at Dromahane. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CONDITIONAL jockey Conor Ring is thrilled that racing is still allowed to continue in the UK. 

The 27-year rider feels that having live sport on the television helps to lift a lot of people's spirits during these unprecedented times. Ring admits that a lot involved in the sport took racing for granted before the first lockdown, he feels they didn’t realise just how good they had it before it was taken away.

“Most of us involved in racing live in a world where nothing else matters only horses and racing, a lot of times we are detached from what’s happening in the outside world. We took the sport for granted, when it was first put into lockdown we were left in shock.

“Jockeys are by nature a busy bunch, riding out plenty of lots every morning and then traveling miles to going racing, we suddenly found ourselves with buckets of time on our hands.

“I’m very grateful to my boss Evan Williams for keeping me on, when the lockdown in April hit, we had a hand full of horses in training and between looking after them and doing other chores around the yard I was kept busy, we also have a lot of cows to milk.” 

 Ballybreen and Conor Ring (black with white stars) winning at Carlisle. Picture: Healy Racing.
Ballybreen and Conor Ring (black with white stars) winning at Carlisle. Picture: Healy Racing.

The Freemount native is kept busy between riding work, breaking young horses and race riding. Over the past few seasons, he has built a reputation as a hard-working honest rider who is also a good judge of a race horse.

It’s nine years since the former student of Boherbue Secondary School made the decision to ply his trade across channel. Since arriving in the UK, he has ridden winners in every season, the highlight been winning the prestigious The Peter March Chase in 2014, aboard Wychwood’s Brook. Unusually Ring’s family have no background with racehorses.

“My family didn’t have any background or history in racing, however my father used to enjoy a bit of hunting and he brought a pony for me when I was 10.

“I learned to ride on him, and I really enjoyed it, after a while I got good enough to go hunting every week”.

“All I wanted to do was ride horses; I was well and truly bitten by the bug.

“I went to RACE in Kildare when I was 15, and while attending there I was sent to Adrian Sexton's training stables.

“Shortly after arriving at Mr Sexton’s and having finished my time at RACE I received my conditional licence.” 

Following his education and grounding at Sexton’s the fledgling rider got a job at Michael Hourigan’s Limerick stables where he rode 30 times for the yard over a period of a year and a half.

“One day I informed Mr Hourigan that I would like to give racing in the UK a crack, and he was kind enough to get me a position with Evan Williams.

“I arrived at Mr Williams’s racing yard in September 2011 and haven’t looked back since. It's a great stable to be attached to, Mr Williams has been very good to me since I came over, he has given me plenty of opportunities.

“I love what I do for a living, I am aware just how lucky I am. There are a lot of long hours involved in been a professional jockey but It’s all worthwhile when you get a winner at the end of the day. 

"My main target this season is to lose my claim, if I do achieve it, I will be absolutely thrilled.” 

KEY ROLE:

Ring is a vital cog in Evan William’s yard, the naturally gifted rider is looking forward to the remainder of the national hunt season, and he is excited by the pool of talent that has yet to run this term.

“Evan has some promising prospects that I’m looking forward to seeing on the racecourse, hopefully I might get the leg up on one or two of them.” 

 When given a chance he’s as good as the top lads in the sport, he is blessed with a terrific racing brain and he has the ability to always be in the right position during a race. The north Cork rider is another jockey to keep on your side.

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