Former Cheltenham winning jockey Paddy Flood was on Friday Night Racing and spoke about the struggles he had with alcohol when he was a young man.
While he was a very successful jockey from a young age, Flood struggled to deal with the pressure. He turned to drinking as a way to deal with the stress and lost his job with trainer Dessie Hughes as a result.
“It was myself and Andrew Lee, Carbery and we ended up going to Mitchelstown and I think I was supposed to be back in work the next day. I ended up at the Mitchelstown Horse Show. Another day at it and I said, ‘ah I’ll ring Dessie.’ I think I might have been missing for three days.
“I rang Dessie [Hughes] and I said, ‘ah sorry Dessie I’m sick.’ And he said, ‘that’s grand yeah no bother.’ And I said, ‘ah that’s grand he’s not thick.’ And he said, ‘that’s fine, your P45’s in the post. See you now.’ And that was it basically,” Flood explained.
Flood then went to work with another trainer, Edward O’Grady, but again had problems with his alcohol use.
“I think I was 19 at the time and rode some lovely horses for Edward and really enjoyed it down there. But I only needed to work maybe two or three days and I was just partying too much. I couldn’t even do that [work two or three days].
“I think we were supposed to ride Pizarro and all that and give them a school around Tipperary and I couldn’t get out of bed. And he rang me, I think he was ringing me for a couple of days.
“He got hold of me and said, ‘Look. You’ve two options. Either you go and get a bit of help and you can come back and your job’s there or just keep on tipping down the road.’ Fair play to him, obviously the easiest thing for him to tell would be to tell me to hit the road,” Flood said.
It was then that Flood was put into contact with people in the Ashlin Centre in Beaumont Hospital, where he attended a six-week programme at the rehab centre to help him kick his drinking habit.
“I shared a room with three lads, who were probably 16 and they were heroin addicts. One from Kilkenny and two from Dublin. But I could sleep at night, I wasn’t getting withdrawals or anything. Them lads were trying to jump out of windows it was so bad. They were just rattling and they couldn’t get anything for it.
“It was tough, it was very hard but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done to be honest. I do have a drink now but I didn’t for six years,” Flood said of his experience.
Flood resumed his career as a jockey and went back to his job with Edward O’Grady where the trainer had a position waiting for him, as promised. Flood also worked with Mouse Morris and even returned to former boss Dessie Hughes, experiencing plenty more success in his career.