“Don’t give up your day job because you will never make it as a jockey” is one of numerous slanderous comments directed at 19-yr-old jockey Aubrey McMahon that nearly stopped Aubrey from experiencing the joy of winning the €100,000 Connacht Hotel Handicap on Monday at the Galway Festival. Which he was victorious on Whiskey Sour, which just happened to be owned by proud his father, Luke.
In early September 2014, Aubrey, from Kildare, obtained his first winner as an amateur jockey. But two years ago, his dream of being a jockey lay in shreds. After unidentified cowards targeted him on social media, so he decided to turn his back on racing as he could not handle the animosity.
“I don’t want to bring attention on myself, but I think it’s important for people to know what cyberbullying can do and how it can affect people. I want to raise awareness of how it can affect people and the awful effects it can have,” Aubrey stated
“Thankfully, I don’t take on board what strangers say about me anymore.
“There were lots of unidentified tweets about me on Twitter and I was called every name under the sun and the hatred towards me was just awful,” he said.
“I knew it wasn’t anyone I knew, but it still got to me. After a few more races, I was starting to get paranoid about what was going to be on my phone.”
When Aubrey found an upsetting online forum about him, it proved too much. “You would get a dirty message full of hatred and nasty language. I was starting to not enjoy going out in races as I didn’t know what would be on my phone when I got back,” he said.
“I knew I wasn’t the worst rider but I was really doubting myself. Keyboard warriors definitely played a role in turning me away from racing.”
One year later, at the age of 17, he put away his racing silks for what he thought would be for good. He got a job as a junior trader in Sandyford in Dublin.
“I had great prospects but horse racing was always my first love,” he said.
Aubrey realised he had to change his mentality about social media and cyberbullying.
“When you are young, you can take what is said to you and about you on social media a lot more to heart and it can affect you in a big way as you are at that awkward age,” he said.
Aubrey then realised he had the drive for racing again and started riding out a few days a week with Gordon Elliot and then with Mullins as well. “Thankfully, my confidence in my ability is now back and I’m not listening to the keyboard bullies anymore.”