“Jockeys are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age”;
Warrenpoint born rider Mark O’Hare fits perfectly in the category of improving with age. Now 38, O’Hare has one of the best positions in sport; of being one of the retained riders for seven times champion trainer Noel Meade.
Speaking of his recent splendour in the saddle; O’Hare modestly insisted; The last couple of years with Meade have been exciting and educational, getting to race-ride good horses and getting advice of a leading trainer who understands the game inside out has been a pleasure”.
“I always hoped things would go this way and will be forever grateful for all the support I’ve had to this thus far, from my modest beginnings in Warrenpoint riding out at the local USPCA and watching jockeys like Richard Dunwoody and Paul Carberry on television, to now be now being in such favourable position; it really is amazing and something I will never take for granted” added O’Hare.
No stranger to successes O’Hare has ridden more than 250 point-to-point winners, claimed multiple northern Irish championships and enjoyed a 40/1 success on Another Run in the National Hunt Chase on his first Cheltenham Festival ride back in 2005; he is also in the record books as being one of only five jockeys in Irish racing antiquity to ever ride six winners in one meeting; so the sheer fact O’Hare was carefully chosen for one of the most sought after jobs within Irish racing at Meade’s didn’t come as a surprise to many.
Being a jockey is definitely not a typical nine-to-five job, there is much more to the challenging role than just turning up to the races to ride the horses; O’Hare has spoken to us about his daily routines;
“My main day-to-day task is to ride undeveloped horses, preparing them for a future in racing; with an expectancy of winning and selling them on.
In the afternoons if I’m not at the races, I will be shoeing horses as I’m a farrier by trade, any spare time I have is always spent with my wife Sara and two young daughters Penny and Sally, they are great company and the greatest way to destress from everything else that is going on in my chaotic life “.
Being a jockey is a relatively short career, commonly most retire in their mid-forties, so having an alternate career in the back of their mind is almost expected; “When I give up riding, I’ll keep tipping away with you stock trying to turn a profit and all being well I will have plenty more time to spend with my family” asserted O’Hare.
Pin-hooking is the art of buying a young horse with the purpose of turning a profit once it is resold in a few years at the auctions, a practice which is frequently used in the bloodstock industry and O’Hare has already made his bearing on this skill; He sold Livelovelaugh who ran in this year’s Aintree Grand national to Willie Mullins, Zero Shades Of Grey who won a Grade 3 hurdle for Neil king and the dazzling mare called honeysuckle who remains unbeaten for trainer Henry de Bromhead, she finished off last season winning a Grade 1 hurdle at the prestigious Punchestown festival; “it’s all a game of luck, all being well my luck doesn’t run out anytime soon” jokes O’Hare.
We put ambitious O’Hare on the spot by asking him which of his former stock are worth keeping an eye out for in the imminent future, he quickly responded;” Myself and a good friend Patrick Turley sold a mighty horse to Willie Mullins at the Cheltenham festival sale after he won a point to point, he’s an exciting horse called ‘Power of Pause’ keep a good eye out for him”.
Away from the hustle-and-bustle of being a thriving jockey and part-time farrier how does O’Hare wind down when all the hard work is all done?; “I adore spending time with my family at any given opportunity; I’m a realist and I grasp kids grow up very quickly and I don’t want to miss one thing in my girls lives” sayed O’Hare.
Winning isn’t everything though it beats anything that comes second.The future looks promising for Mark O’Hare, and the next time you see the initials of Mr M J O’Hare on any given race-card remember this is a Warrenpoint born lad who chased his dream, and achieved it. With hard work and effort, O’Hare is a great example you can accomplish anything.