Oisin McSweeney – A Future Star
Unusually for someone brought up on the famous racing ground of the Curragh in County Kildare, Ireland, Oisin McSweeney, the latest winner of the Go Racing In Yorkshire Future Stars Apprentice Series, supported by White Rose Saddlery, did not come from a racing background, or even a horsey one.
Racing was not the dream until some of his friends pursued the jockey career path and he thought, “this looks fun!”
So how was a 16-year-old, with no riding or equine experience going to make this happen?
Oisin strikes you as the person that will make things happen and isn’t afraid of hard work to get there. While still at school, Oisin was aware that local pre-trainer Richard Brabazon had a reputation for helping young people and often had students at the yard. Oisin approached Richard and a deal was struck, that he would teach the aspiring jockey to ride if he worked there on weekends and school holidays.
This education proved very beneficial and upon leaving school at 18, Oisin started work for Dermot Weld, before moving to the then Irish based Adrian Keatley, who agreed to hold his apprentice license.
“I had about 20 rides in Ireland, but it didn’t really take off and then Adrian decided to move to England and suggested that I spend the winter in America and organised for me to go and work for Ian Brennan” recalls Oisin.
A trip to the sunshine coast of Florida followed and Oisin took up a three-month residency in Ocala, based with Ian Brennan, who is originally from the Curragh.
Riding out 6 mornings a week, Oisin learnt about timings and the American style of riding to the clock.
“I rode loads of horses every day, some of the best-bred horses in America and Ian had state of the art facilities. I met plenty of people and Ian was quite a mentor during my time there.”
On returning home to Ireland, Oisin decided that a relocation to the UK might be what he needed to get going as a jockey.
“I talked to some jockeys I knew over here and did some research into British trainers and I saw that Kevin Ryan was using a few apprentices but didn’t have one attached to the yard. Shane Gray put in a good word for me and I started working for Kevin in September 2020.”
Oisin credits Kevin with getting his career going.
“He took me on having not had a winner, told me to come over whenever I could, sorted accommodation and has given me chances. He organised Niall Hannity to be my agent and I’m very grateful for all his help and support so far.”
Having not ridden a winner, Oisin had to attend courses at the National Horseracing College in Doncaster in order to obtain his UK license. He rode his first winner for Richard Fahey in February, aboard Elusive Treat and explained how he got the ride,
“I usually go and ride out for Richard on my Sunday’s off. He’s a good friend of Kevin’s so he made the introduction and it’s good to get into different yards.”
To date Oisin has had 145 rides, resulting in 23 winners from 13 different trainers – a 16% strike rate which showed a £13.41 profit from a £1 stake.
Riding in seven of the eleven races in the Go Racing In Yorkshire Future Stars Apprentice Series, Oisin won one race at Redcar aboard Teescomponentsfly for David Barron and scored points in five other races, which took him to the top of the leader board.
A regular at Jack Berry House, Oisin explained how helpful his jockey coach, Kim Tinkler has been.
“She’s great, really encouraging and has helped me so much since I landed in Yorkshire. Initially she was very reassuring when I hadn’t ridden a winner and need the confidence that I was doing things right and just had to wait for things to happen. She is a useful contact to speak to after I’ve ridden in races to talk them through.”
Prior to taking up racing, Oisin was a keen golfer, although he admits that the clubs have hardly left the bag since he arrived at Hambleton. However, with a quiet winter planned to protect his valuable 5lb claim, perhaps he will get chance to improve his handicap before making a return to the handicaps of the racing world in 2022.
We look forward to following Oisin through next season and wish him well for 2022.