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When Warren O'Connor disobeyed an order... and it paid off!

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

03:38 16 Aug 2019


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Back in the day, Warren O'Connor was a classic-winning jockey.

These days though, he's become a jockey coach, passing on his knowledge to the next generation.

We had the pleasure of his company on this week's Friday Night Racing.

The Kildare-based coach touched on his many highs but also the myriad of difficulties that come with life in the saddle.

He also detailed what he sees as the biggest mistakes young jockeys and apprentices are making today.

"The biggest mistake is they try too hard," he said.

Warren O'Connor, jockey, 2000 Horse Racing The Curragh 16/7/2000
Warren O'Connor
©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

"When you turn into the straight and you see that post, the first thing you do is you let go.

"Riding a horse is like driving a car. There are five gears: a push, a slap on the shoulder, a back-hander, the fore-hand and the big one.

"But when I was young, you'd turn into the straight and see the winning post. 'Aah!' Straight for the big one. So you've gone straight for the big one.

"By the time you're coming up to the line, what are you doing? You're only getting tired and more tired. And getting caught on the line! We're all young, so that's why I'm there to help and guide them."

Shocked

Warren O'Connor also shared a story of the time he disobeyed an order from an owner. Which proved to be the right call in a particular race at a time when he was on a losing run!

"It was the first time in five years that [the owner] had given me instructions. In five years," he began.

"He says, 'Right, we've walked the track. Be second or third throughout the race'. So I was grand, 'Ok, boss, not a bother'".

O'Connor admitted he was a "bit shocked" at the instructions but also "understood" where the race-horse owner was coming from due to his own losing record.

However, the way the race panned out, all instructions went out the window. With rivals horses charging off at the beginning, he pulled his ride back and was last going into the straight and running wide. It proved to be a wise tactic.

"It was all when I was going to press the button," he explained.

"When those gates open, you're the professional. You take the ball into your own court. That's what you're getting paid for. If you've a good team working for you, you won't make mistakes.

"I just picked [the other horses] off one by one. The buzz was just... it was one of the best rides I ever had on a horse. And to know that myself and take the ball into my own court and to say, 'Right, I'm the professional.'"

You can watch the full Friday Night Racing above via YouTube. Our racing coverage is brought to you in association with GoRacing.ie

Subscribe to Off The Ball's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


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