HORSE AND JOCKEY Dash D’or and Conor Hoban after winning the ‘Naas RaceCourse Handicap’ at Naas. Pic: Alain Barr
Name: Conor Hoban
Occupation: Flat jockey
Did you know? Conor was 18 when he rode his first winner at Wexford in May, 2009.
What was your childhood ambition?
I always wanted to have my own farm and land. When I was younger it would have been for greyhounds.
Growing up, who was your sporting hero?
It was a tie between Ruby Walsh and Roy Keane.
Do you have a mentor?
I don’t have one as such but I’m very lucky to be connected to lots of great people I can turn to for advice and help.
What or where is your happy place?
Being in our racing yard at home, doing jobs outside on the tractor with my family not too far away.
What sparked your love of racing?
The buzz, adrenaline and working outdoors
What horse put you on the map?
Hujaylea. He was trained by Michael Halford and was an ultra-consistent horse. We had some great days together.
Who is your favourite horse?
Hujaylea again. He was a brilliant ride and had a mighty attitude. I had great days on him when I was starting off.
What was it like to ride in your first race?
It was all over before I knew it started, things happened so quickly.
How long does it take to learn race-riding tactics?
A long time and you never stop learning.
Describe the feeling of riding your first winner?
Relief, it was a brilliant feeling.
What is your most memorable racing moment?
It wasn’t too long ago. I think been a part of the Cancer Trials Ireland fundraising for Pat Smullen over Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and The Curragh last September was a weekend I will never forget. The atmosphere riding that weekend was unbelievable at both tracks and the Pat Smullen Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland at The Curragh on the Sunday with all champion jockeys taking part was a sight will never see again. It was a great weekend to be involved in.
What is your favourite racecourse in Ireland?
If you weren’t a jockey what would you be?
I went through a stage that I wanted to be a detective.
At the moment, I’ve built up a pre-training business in Kildare and I’m mixing pre-training with being a jockey.
If any of those didn’t work out, I’d have had a go at being a builder.
I’m not worried on that side of things; I’d always find something to make a few euro!!!!!
If you could ride one horse, what would it be?
How do you cope with pressure?
Not bad, I think pressure is good, otherwise you are only going through the motions.
What mental preparation do you do for the big days?
You would treat the big days the same as the smaller days. Go back over replays and study the form of the races and see how you think the race will develop.
How do you stay motivated?
I have a family now to support so that keeps me motivated along with the visions/plans and goals in my head, so I try to make as many of them happen as possible.
How do you deal with dips in form?
Try to keep doing what you are doing and believe in yourself and normally things turn around and come right again.
Outside of racing, what is your favourite sporting moment?
The national coursing meeting in Clonmel or going to Croke Park to watch Mayo.
Can you give us a Netflix/film recommendation?
Formula 1: Drive to Survive or Narcos.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Tea and chocolate.
Desert island discs – name your favourite three songs?
Dancing in the Dark - Bruce Springsteen
Drops of Jupiter - Train
Ho Hey -The Lumineers
What person do you admire the most and why?
Pat Smullen for the his professionalism, work ethic, fight and determination with his cancer battle and most of all, with the success he has had in his career it never changed him, he is the most grounded, down to earth man you could meet.
I’d eat anything.
Where is your favourite place to go on holidays?
What ambitions do you still have?
I still want to ride as many winners as I can while also continuing to build up my business at home to the highest standard as possible.
What is the hidden gem of Mayo?
It’s not hidden! It’s my hometown, Westport!
When you think of your home/Mayo what immediately springs to mind?
My Mam’s cooking!!
How are you occupying your time during the Covid-19 restrictions?
Sammy the pony is flat out most days with my two kids Kate (3) and Tom (1) so when I’m not working in the yard, they are keeping me busy.
Racehorses come into the essential workers category, so keeping in line with all the protocols and guidelines, I am still very busy between the yard at home and going into different trainer’s yard’s riding work.
It’s strange not going racing, for sure, but at the moment, there is more important stuff going on than racing, so we just have to accept it until things pass.
If you had one piece of advice for everyone during these worrying times of Covid-19, what would it be?
Listen to the all the advice from the professionals.
Everyone on the front line is doing a great job and its only right we do what’s been asked, as they are all putting their health at risk every day for the rest of us to get back to normal again. We should be very grateful as I’m sure it’s not easy facing into those working conditions every morning.
If you were to go back to when you were 20 years-old and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Well, I wouldn’t have to go back too far for a start!! I’d probably tell myself to enjoy the good days more – they are hard to come by.
“You make your own luck”.