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Next Generation | Rider - Michael Sweeney

Next Generation | Rider - Michael Sweeney

Michael Sweeney enjoyed his second career success aboard Cloudy Morning in the novice riders’ open at Damma House last Sunday.

The Waterford native was seen to good effect here, having got first run on much of the field turning in. In his third season riding, the 19-year-old has over 30 rides to his name and with the backing of the shrewd Queally stable behind him, the novice rider could be set for a good season. 

Name: Michael Sweeney

Age: 19

Area: Cappoquin, County Waterford

Do you have a background in racing?

I am not really from a racing family, but there has always been horses at home on the farm, mainly half-breds. I started hunting when I was younger, which got me started with the horses.

How did you become involved in the sport?

My neighbour Niall Hennessey is a huntsman and also trains point-to-pointers. I started riding out for Niall at weekends and holidays when I was still in school.

Where did you go from there?

I rode out for a summer in Willie Mullins’s and after I finished my Leaving Cert I spent a season with Denis Ahearn, I got great experience there.

Where are you based now?

I am based with Declan Queally this season, we have over 20 in at the moment, so we are kept busy. 

You had your first ride back in 2016?

I rode Mary Field to finish third at Grennan for Niall Hennessey on my first ride. I went on to ride my first winner then last season at Ballindenisk aboard Glorious Boru for Denis Ahern. 

You had two rides last Sunday, Cloudy Morning was a great spin to pick up, talk us through the race.

Declan was very good to give me the chance to ride both horses. I knew during the week I was riding Cloudy Morning and we thought he would have a small chance.

Things went to plan in the race, with only a small field they went fairly slow and it turned into a sprint. He settled grand during the race and jumped great, I took up the lead turning in and managed to get first run on everyone, he stayed galloping to the line and won well. 

What are your ambitions now for the season?

Just to get as many rides as possible, hopefully things will go well for me and I stay injury free.

Have you longer term plans for the future?

I hope to make a career out of riding in point-to-points.

What improvements would you like to see in point-to-pointing?

I would like to see more novice riders’ races across different race categories, to give lads starting out a chance on better horses.

Any horses we should be watching out for?

Givemylovetorose runs in the mares’ maiden at Lisronagh on Saturday, she goes very well and we are hoping for a good run.

How about another rider you think might be up-and-coming?

Adam Feeney and I are good friends, he is a very good rider.

Is there a trainer we should be watching out for?

Declan is a top class trainer, he does all the horses right and puts a lot of work into them, everything is a 100%. He places them well and I think there are plenty of nice horses there to run.

What would be the the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

I think just to take your time in a race really.

Who has been your biggest influence?

Declan would be my biggest influence, he gives me plenty of advice. He is riding himself so it’s a great education to get. 


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