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Next Gen | James Coffey

Image © Healy Racing

Name: James Coffey

Age: 21

From: Midleton, Co. Cork

It was a day to remember for Midleton native James Coffey who partnered his first winner aboard the homebred Miss Penny Copper at Curraghmore for his grandfather Donal Coffey. 

How did you get involved with horses?

My grandad Donal, has always trained point-to-pointers. When I was growing up I went to all the point-to-points at the weekends with my Dad and Grandfather.  

I did a small bit of pony club with the United Pony Club. I did a lot of cross country and hunter trials and a very small amount of showjumping. 

What was the first racehorse you ever sat on?

When I was about two my dad threw me up on a racehorse, his name was Copper Blue and he went on to win the Jewson at the Cheltenham Festival. 

The first horse I sat on properly on the gallops was Ask For The Clouds, a Cloudings horse we had at home. 

Do you work full-time with horses?

Yeah, I ride out at Terence O’Brien’s every day. I ride work a bit for Garrett Ahern and the odd time for Tom Busteed, he would have pre-trainers. 

I have known Terence since growing up, we don’t have our own gallop at home we just have fields but we have been bringing the horses over to Terence's practically every day to use his gallop for years. He has great facilities and we can't thank him enough for letting us use them. 

How did the ride on Miss Penny Copper come about?

It was between Grandad and my aunt Paula that I got to ride her, I rode her at Ballyknock last month where she pulled up, the ground was so soft she just couldn’t jump out of it.

They told me I could keep the ride on her but I didn’t know when that was going to be, so last week they told me she would be going to Curraghmore. 

What is she like at home? 

She’s as quiet as a lamb, she’s very laid back and straightforward. It showed in the race, I had to keep after her the whole time. 

My aunt Paula bred her and she rides her out at home every day with Terence's lots. My cousin Emily would often ride her out when she off from school. 

I did plenty of schooling with her between Ballyknock and last Saturday just to get her confidence back. 

Do you know what the plan for Miss Penny Copper is now?

She will hopefully go to for the mares point-to-point bumper in Tipperary as long as the ground doesn’t get too quick.

Did you get some kick out riding your first point-to-point winner?

Yeah, it was great, especially to ride my first winner for my Grandad and in his colours, it was something special.

I’ve been going to all the Cork and Waterford point-to-points since I was young. It was absolutely class!

Were your family there on the day? 

Yeah, my Dad was there, my Grandad and my uncle-in-law Pat Mulcahy.

My girlfriend was there as well, she led up the mare! It was great, a lot of my friends were there too.

Do you walk the track with someone? 

Yeah, I walked the track with Cathal Sheehan. He won the Novice riders race afterwards! The two of us would be very good friends.

Josh Ahern was to walk it with us but he was late!

Is there someone that you regularly seek advice from? 

At Terence’s Darragh Allen is there, John Shinnick and Donal McAuley as well. He rode a good few winners before he retired. So I would try to watch those and learn as much as I can. 

Darragh mainly just gives out to me really and Donal helps me out!!

I try to take it all on-board. I also spent a year with Willie Mullins so you're just trying to pick up as much as you can from all the yards. 

Have you done the progression schooling course at RACE?

Yeah, I did the schooling course with Derek, it was very good. When Derek talks you listen! It's unbelievable to have someone like him giving advice and learning from him. 

I did the trainee jockey course in RACE, I graduated from that in 2019. 

What’s the best advice you have been given?

Try not to burn any bridges!

Who is your biggest influence in racing?

My grandad! We live on either side of the yard at home so I see him every day.

He would be a tough man, quick to let me know when I've done something wrong but I’ve learned a lot from him.

He has been very good to give me rides to start me off and I can't thank him enough for that.

Was it always your plan to take out your license?

Yeah! It was really, since I was very young I’ve always wanted to be a jockey. I've always wanted to ride a winner in my Grandads colours.

What are your ambitions for the remainder of the season?  

To stay in one piece! If I could ride another winner that would be great.

Have you any hobbies or interests outside of racing?

I enjoy hurling and golf.

Is there anything else you want to add?

Yeah I have to thank Alannah for picking me up every day and bringing me to work! I would also like to give a massive thanks to Terence, we would be lost without him.


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