This latest edition of our Meet The Team series focuses on twenty-four-old Jessie O’Kane, the regular rider of this week’s brilliant two-year-old winner, Clearpoint.
Now in her fourth year at Musley Bank, Jessie is an incredibly enthusiastic and dedicated team member. Here’s what we found out…
Could you tell us how and why you started riding?
I’d never sat on a horse until I went to the Northern Racing College. I’d always watched horse racing on TV and the track, and I’d always thought I’d like to work with racehorses. I’ve not looked back since my time in Doncaster.
Can you put into words what you enjoy about the riding side of the job?
It’s just amazing riding these horses for a living. Every horse is unique, and part of the fun is learning how each horse moves and behaves differently. Off the back of that, you will always come out the other side with your favourites, like Clearpoint – or Pigeon as we all call him!
In your opinion, what makes a good rider? What do they need?
The most important things you need are confidence and strength. Both of these come from dedicating time and effort to the job. This isn’t something you can go on and do – it takes plenty of practice and perseverance.
The early mornings and the job’s physical demands can be wearing for you guys.…what helps keep you going during the longer days?
The riding-out side of things provides a lot of satisfaction and interest, but I also really enjoy looking after the horses on an afternoon and leading up our runners at the races. It’s a great experience going racing because it breaks things up, but you get to see plenty of different courses and chances of leading up winners.
What are Clearpoint’s strengths? And what is he like as a character?
He takes his cantering and work very well, and he’s tough and a very straightforward ride. I’ve never known him to put a foot wrong up the gallop. He’s just class.
In terms of his character – he loves any attention! He always shouts when I go past his box because he knows I’ll go and make a fuss of him. But, like Perfect Power (paternal half-brother), he also loves his sleep and a good pick of grass. He’s just an all-round lovely horse to deal with.
Without being immodest, do you think there’s anything you’ve done to help him in his work?
With him being so straightforward, he knows his job pretty well already. If you want him to do something, he does it. If you ask him a question, he answers it. It is nice, though, when a jockey gets off him after a piece of work and gives you good feedback. You know then that you’re at least doing something right.
Could he potentially be the best horse you’ve sat on?
He certainly is! I’ve been in racing a while now, and I can honestly say I’ve never sat on something that gives you the feeling he does. He’s a very tough horse with bundles of quality. I’m already looking forward to seeing him on track again.
What else do you think you could do if you were suddenly banned from working with horses?
I don’t know what I would do because all I’ve ever done or wanted to do is work with horses. It’s not a situation I would ever want to find myself in! But, I enjoy what I do.
Jessie’s horses to follow in the Musley Bank 3 To Follow Competition:
Clearpoint (Ardad x Pigeon Point (Harbour Watch))
Dandy Man x Duchess Of Foxland (Medecis) (unnamed two-year-old filly)
Perfect Power (Ardad x Sagely (Frozen Power))