Growing up in Ireland, I was surrounded by the horse industry from an early age. I rode out for my father, a trainer, each morning before school and helped in the stable afterwards. Weekends were spent at the racetracks in Ireland where we raced the horses we trained, and I eventually became an amateur steeplechase jockey, riding successfully for 11 years.
After graduating from Athlone Institute of Technology in Business Management and already dedicated to a career with Thoroughbreds, I was hungry to gain a global perspective of the industry. I started in France as an assistant to trainers Emmanuel Chevalier Du Fau and Henri-Alex Pantall. I then came to America, working for Wintergreen Farm in Midway, Kentucky, followed by a sales season for former leading two-year-old trainer Jerry Bailey in Florida. During my time with Jerry I was offered an opportunity to move to Dubai to work for the Al Maktoum family as an assistant trainer under Erwan Charpy. It was the chance of a lifetime and in the more than five years I was there I honed my skills as both a horseman and a professional in ways I could never have imagined.
Kentucky made quite the impression on me, and I returned from Dubai in 2001 to make the Bluegrass my home. Relationships and respect are the foundation of everything I’ve accomplished for myself and for others, and my business grew organically, but steadily as I began purchasing yearlings on behalf of clients.
I didn’t know it at the time, but 2004 would be a banner year for me. I purchased only four fillies for clients. Two of them, Nasheej and Mo Cuishle, went on to become group/graded stakes winners in Europe and the U. S. The other two, Steelin’ and Spirited Debate, became highly successful broodmares, as both of their first foals were champions – eventual North American Juvenile Champion Shanghai Bobby and Peruvian Horse of the Year Azarenka.
Over the years I served as a consultant on occasion for the Dubai World Cup and Emirates Racing Association to promote Meydan and the Carnival. I also oversaw the restructuring of the late Barbara Hunter’s Brownwood Farm, managing the farm operations and racing stable, and ultimately returning the organization to profitability. During that time the racing stable enjoyed the most profitable year in its 60 year history, as Keertana finished third in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Following Ms. Hunter’s death, Keertana and her Graded Stakes winning half-sister Snow Top Mountain sold for $1,000,000 and $950,000 respectively.
I currently consult for the French Breeding and Racing Committee (FRBC), the government and equine promotional arm of France’s Thoroughbred industry, and in 2008 I was named the North American representative for the French auction house Arqana. Stateside I serve as a partner and bloodstock consultant for Four Star Sales, as well as a handful of private individuals and stables, and in 2015 I was elected to serve on the board of the prestigious Thoroughbred Club of America, which is quite a humbling honor.
There is an old proverb that says “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I love horses and helping people. The fact that I’ve been able to build a career out of that is something I’m thankful for every day.