Welcome to a new post here at zoelouisesmithx.com. I hope you all had a brilliant final day of Cheltenham yesterday! Today I am super excited to bring to you an interview with Eoin Walsh. He has recently returned from a pretty serious injury, so I caught up with him about all things racing, including his recovery and the importance of the Injured Jockeys Fund. Let’s jump right into it!
Me: What is your favourite race of your career, win or lose?
Eoin: My favourite race would have to be when I won on Zeeband at Thirsk for Roger Varian. It wasn’t the biggest race in the world, but I rode him out every morning since I started at Roger’s and he wasn’t the most straight forward in the mornings, he’s quite a difficult ride. To actually get on him and to get a win on him was fantastic and it meant a lot to me.
Me: If you could ride any horse that you never have, past or present, what horse would you choose?
Eoin: I think I’d have to go for a horse from the past. I think I’d pick Frankel. The way he won the Guineas was phenomenal and every other race he won was breath-taking. He was just a freak. I’d have loved to have had a go on him.
Me: What are you opinions surrounding the discussions of banning the whip?
Eoin: My opinion on banning the whip is absolutely ridiculous. The whip is out there as a corrective measure and an encouragement method. It’s not there to harm or hurt the horse. All of us in racing love our animals, there’s nobody who’s out there to hurt the horse. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
Me: As a jockey, weight is obviously a huge thing for you guys, so what would you eat on a regular day? Are there any periods across the year where you can actually just eat everything and anything or is it a strict kind of diet all year round?
Eoin: For me, I struggle with my weight quite a lot. I’m one of the heavier, taller jockeys in the weighing room. A typical day for me in the summer whilst I’m racing would probably be have a coffee in the morning, a coffee at lunch time and if I’m lucky, get home and have some dinner. Other than that, I wouldn’t eat a lot. In my off time, I tend to let myself go and enjoy myself but I do have to pay the price for it when I come back.
Me: So you’ve recently came back from quite a bad injury, how hard is it to return to the sport that put you into that position?
Eoin: I’ve never really thought about retiring from this injury. It’s more of a case of wanting to, I’ve got a good job at Roger Varian’s so I just felt the quicker I got back, the quicker I got going again. We’re coming into the flat season so I didn’t want to be joining the string half way through the season when all the jockey’s key positions were already filled. I wanted to get back before the turf so I could get fit and I’ll be available when wanted for the flat season.
Me: On from that, horse racing is one of the very few sports to have a charity who do the work the Injured Jockey’s Fund do, how important are they to jockeys and the sport as a whole?
Eoin: The Injured Jockey’s Fund are absolutely phenomenal. They are a great bunch of people and a massive help to all of us jockeys and we could not thank them enough.
Me: Racing is an all year round sport, so when you do get some down time, what do you like to do?
Eoin: With the world hopefully returning to normal fairly soon, I hope that in a down time I’d be able to travel to Thailand with friends, Callum Shepherd, Kieran O’Neill and Stefano. We like to get away for a couple of weeks, let our hair down and make the most of our time off.
Me: Who do you look up to in the weighing room?
Eoin: I would probably look up to the likes of Adam Kirby and James Doyle the most. They’d be my two favourites, they’re very good jockeys, very good horsemen and two nice people.
Me: What is one race you’d love to win?
Eoin: When it comes to a race I’d love to win, I’m not going to be fussy. I’ll take any race, I’m just happy when I’m crossing the line in front. There’s no particular race I’d want to win at this stage. Just every winner matters to me, so yeah, any winner, any horse I can ride that wins.
Me: What’s your overall goal in racing over the upcoming few years?
Eoin: My overall goal the next couple of years would be to establish myself as one of the main riders for one of the big yards in town. I’d love to hope it’ll be Roger Varian’s but I’ll hopefully get my opportunity somewhere.
Me: What would be your ‘horse to watch’ for the next season or two?
Eoin: I’d once again have to go for my old favourite Zeeband as a horse to follow. I think he’s gonna be a very, very nice four year old this year. I thought, personally, anything he did last year would be a bonus towards this year. I think he’s rated near the 90’s now and I think he’ll improve further. I think he could be a class act this season over the longer distances.
Me: What is your favourite racecourse to ride at and why?
Eoin: I love riding at either of the Newmarket Racecourses. Mainly because I don’t have to travel far but because they’re just such prestigious courses and riding a winner there last season was absolutely amazing even though there was no crowd.
Me: With the Grand National coming up and it being announced Tiger Roll won’t run, do you fancy anything at the moment?
Eoin: I really hope Bristol De Mai wins the Grand National. It would be lovely for Nigel Twiston-Davies. He’s a very good trainer and I just love the horse as well, he’s just an absolute legend of the game.
Me: What is your best advice for young people who have a passion they want to follow, whether that be racing or something else?
Eoin: I can only answer for kids coming into racing, but my one bit of advice is just keep your head down, ask as many questions as you can, learn as much as you can from the older lads that have been around and just keep yourself to yourself and try and stay out of trouble. Coming into racing is very difficult for anyone, it’s not easy leaving home but you just need to get yourself around a good group of people and hopefully you can bring yourself forward.
I want to thank Eoin for his time to answer some questions, I know how busy he is now he’s returning to the saddle so I appreciate his time. For me, I think it’s incredible how strong jockeys are, mentally and physically. If I had been hit with an injury as severe as Eoin’s, I don’t know if I could come back and have the mindset that Eoin has but also other jockeys have too. I think it’s a testament to their strength when jockeys can come back and normally they’re better and stronger than ever when they do so.
I have had a busy two weeks on my website with 9 posts in 12 days and I have absolutely loved it, I hope you’ve all enjoyed the past 2 weeks posts and I will see you all on Wednesday evening at 6pm for my next one!