This month we spoke to jockey Gavin Sheehan who has been enjoying a stellar season so far and enjoyed some recent top level Saturday wins.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what made you want to become a jockey?
“Well growing up I was in love with sports, hurling and football and many more, but I started watching western films and fell in love with the horses and wanted to be a cowboy. But the more I got interested in that I realised it probably wasn’t going to happen, so I got into riding in Donkey Derby’s and then pony racing when I was thirteen. I did quite well on the pony racing circuit and then went as an Amateur to Michael Hourigan. It was a slow road at the start, but I loved the pony racing and that instilled the passion and drive in me for what I wanted to do. I did that for a few years and then when I got injured, I moved over to England to work for Charlie Mann in 2011 and have been based here since then. Charlie was great and really helped me and was the starting point for my career here”.
2. Growing up, who was your idol or a sporting figure you always looked up to?
“Roy Keane, I grew up on the same estate as him and moved when I was young, but he was such a big name and supporting Man United he was someone you looked up to and aspired to be like”.
3. How did it feel to win the King George on Hewick?
“It was a funny kind of feeling to be honest. I thought he had a good chance going into the race, but during the race itself I didn’t think I had a chance at any stage until literally after jumping the second last and then all of a sudden, I was going into the last and had the race won and it was all over in a flash from there. It was a long way round for me! As I said if it hadn’t been the King George I’d have probably pulled up!!”
4. You have enjoyed great success this season with numerous horses in various Grade 1’s! Is there anything that stands out as a special win to you?
“I suppose the King George without a doubt, it was very special and the highlight of Christmas. But likewise, the Coral Gold Cup, which I suppose is better known as the ‘Hennessy’ but winning that for Jamie Snowdon and connections was massive really and the style in which we won it also”.
5. Having already achieved such success in your career as a jockey, what goals and ambitions do you have for the future?
“To ride 100 winners in a season and keep building from there. Every year you want to be champion jockey and I always think aim high and settle for less, but you have to aim high and as a jockey that’s what you want. I have lots of things I would like to win and I am not afraid to dream, I like dreaming. I would like to win the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, The Grand National, I’d like to win them all”.
6. If you weren’t in racing, what would you be doing?
“I’d probably be a carpenter”.
7. What is your favourite racecourse?
“There’s no better feeling than jumping around Sandown on a good jumper over the fences”.
8. What food is your guilty pleasure?
“I eat everything, but probably Chocolate! I feel guilty for eating it but I love it!”
9. Have you had any support from the IJF in the past and what’s your view on what the fund does?
“Loads, I live in Lambourn and am very lucky to be so close to Oaksey House and go there regularly. I have had lots of help with injuries over the years and they are great. The injured Jockeys Fund are brilliant and the support they provide to us Jockeys is amazing”.