RICHIE Condon, from Conna, enjoyed his best day in the saddle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, when he guided the Paul Hennessy-trained Heaven Help Us to victory in the hugely competitive Grade Three Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle.
Since that impressive victory, the young Cork rider has caught the eye of many leading trainers and owners, and he has been kept busy riding inside the rails. Next month, the talented jockey is heading to the US to ply his trade during the summer.
“I’m really looking forward to going to the States to ride. It’s a huge adventure for me and I’m going to grab the opportunity with both hands and, hopefully, it will lead to more high-profile rides,” Condon said.
“Keri Brion offered me the job in America. She was based here in Ireland during the winter months and I rode a few horses for her, we got on very well, and I was thrilled when she asked me to join her in her home country for the summer.
“She has put together a competitive team of horses to go to war with over there and I am excited at the prospect of riding at all the big meetings Stateside.”
Condon comes from a sporting family: His dad, John, trains greyhounds and is a regular handler at Youghal greyhound track; his uncle, Mike, was a top-class amateur rider; and his cousin, Davy Condon, was a top professional jockey, who also can call himself a Cheltenham Festival-winning rider.
“On account of my background, I was always going to be involved with horses and greyhounds,” Condon said. “After I finished my Leaving Cert, I headed to England and was based with Brendan Powell on the flat and I then moved on to join Kim Bailey and rode a lot of good horses for him.
“I decided to return home, mainly because of the travelling in the UK, and I missed home, to be honest. I’m based now with trainer Pat Fahy and I am very happy.”
Condon is popular in the weigh room, and he is as popular at his local greyhound track. The 24-year-old was raised on a farm and his countryside upbringing ignited his passion and love for both horses and greyhounds.
Condon has a love of greyhound racing; he attends Youghal track at least twice a week, and loves nothing better than going for walks with a few dogs to relax.
I love greyhound racing; it’s in my blood. My dad trains around 12 dogs and races mainly at Youghal, where he has had good success.
"I just love greyhounds; they are brilliant animals; they are friendly and very loving dogs. I find it great for your mental health; to switch off and go for a walk with a few dogs is tremendous,” Condon said.
“Youghal is a great track; it’s hard to win around there, it’s a fair track and usually the best dog wins. The English trainers love to buy a dog out of Youghal; a lot of great dogs have won there and have gone on to bigger and better things.”
The Cheltenham Festival-winning jockey is looking forward to the easing of pandemic restrictions and to meeting up with his friends and fellow riders at the track.
“I purchased a greyhound off my dad,” Condon said. “I set up a syndicate, which Paul Townend and David Mullins are a part of. He’s trained in Kilkenny, because that’s where I’m now living, and he is trained by a good friend of mine, Denis Lennon. The dog is called Why Geldof and we are looking forward to a few nights out at the track to see him run.
“He’s not doing too well at the moment, but, hopefully, he will get going soon. I feel syndicates are a great way to get young people involved in the sport.
“It’s not expensive to be involved in a dog that way and you will definitely enjoy bags of fun watching your dog run, in the company of the other syndicate members.”
Condon will be packing his bags shortly and heading to the US. The gifted horseman is sure to enjoy a fruitful summer in the States.
He will receive more exposure, which will result in the proud Cork man getting more rides and recording more winners. If all goes to plan, the Conna native is guaranteed to reach the upper echelons of his career.