Article by Darren O’Conghaile
“A winner for a jockey does not become reality through chance; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work – there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes”.
County Kildare born jockey, Shane Kelly graduated from Race academy back in 2008 and he was assigned to trainer Eddie Harty, who signed him on as an apprentice initially though he fancied a change of scenery and headed off to England in pursuit of further opportunities – He worked for well-respected handler John Quinn for whom he rode his first winner for on a horse called Bollin Freddie at Beverley racecourse in June of 2010 – in all Kelly rode 43 winners during his stint in England before heading back home to Ireland.
We had to question this Monasterevin native what made him pursue a profession as a jockey – which Kelly kindly responded; “My neighbour had hunters, I used to love going over and being around the horses just about every evening. They educated me on how to ride horses, and it all snowballed from there. When I was the correct age, I attended Race academy, the rest is history, fortuitously for me I have made a living from racing; I appreciate I am in a favourable position getting paid for doing a job I love”.
Anyone involved in horse racing grasps it is a losing sport, you will lose a lot more than you ever win although for that reason when you do happen to win you really have to appreciate every second of it – speaking of the matter Kelly asserted; “I’m enjoying race riding more now than I ever did before. I undoubtedly appreciate everything far more these days. And riding winners certainly helps”.
We had to ask this strong-minded young rider what his most memorable winner is so far – Kelly replied; “Every winner is brilliant for its own motives but if I had to pick one which stands out to me it would have to be winning The Habitat Premier handicap Guineas weekend on Fieslona – It was a great to get a winner at on a high-profile card”.
Every Jockey must set aims for the season ahead – it is a competitive sport and it is well recognized you are only as good as your last winner and Kelly is no dissimilar to any other rider; He added to the chat; “My aims for the year are to ride as many winners as possible and get as many rides as I can. I’ve started off well so if I could keep the ball rolling I think I could have a good year, I ride a lot for Johnny Murtagh and his horses are flying which is an added bonus to me from a winning perspective”.
When Kelly is not busy pursuing his next winner, how does he keep himself occupied away from horse racing – Kelly replied; “Sure it is all go constantly and I wouldn’t have it any other way – away from racing my three girls (Hazel, Holly and Hayley) keep me more than busy, I also I like to walk my dog and watch the football whenever I can – I’m a Liverpool fan so it’s an ‘easy’ watch it at the minute when they are winning.
On a concluding note to our feature, we could not let Shane Kelly go without getting his two to follow for the remainder of the flat season – He promptly responded; “ My two to follow would be “know it all” and “pronouncement”.
“Hard work is the most important key to success. Achievements without hard work is impossible. An idle person can never gain anything if they sit and wait for a better opportunity to come – Remember the name Shane B Kelly.