Updated: Nov 7, 2022
In part one of my chat with Oisin we touched on several topics, including what life had been like away from racing, what he'd been up to, and how he was preparing for the season ahead. If you haven't read part one yet, you can find it on my blog below this post.
In this week’s article, Oisin discusses the support he has received during his time away, his expectations for the coming season, and sends a message to racing fans upon his return.
I hope you enjoy it…
Are there any owners, jockeys, or trainers in particular that have supported you since you’ve been away?
“Hughie Morrison, Joseph Tuite who has now retired, but he was fantastic, Ralph Beckett, Andrew (Balding) is the obvious one, and Michael Bell has been unbelievable. I think a lot of the people I rode for were aware of how I was socially anyway and knew I had made efforts to curtail my drinking and failed in the past. It took me to get to a point where it really dawned on me that I had to sort this out in order to stop, and I'm sorry it took so long, you know? But I appreciate those people standing by me.”
Are there any comments that have had either a big positive or negative effect on you?
“Yeah, I'm used to negative comments anyway, because every day you ride and ride favourites that don't win you're going to get negative feedback. I went through a stage on Twitter of liking it and I would even chat with fans about why I rode a horse a certain way. I'm kind of interested in why they felt a certain way and also happy to educate them on what my thinking was. Many of them have become supporters of mine and I genuinely believe that I never, or certainly in recent years, I've never gotten into an argument with someone who's called me out on a ride. I think it's very important to remember that football players have it much tougher than jockeys. Okay, they don't play every day, but when they're in a football match they're guaranteed to be called out for something, so you just have to develop a little bit of a thick skin.”
"I believe that over the past four or five years I've had a lot of less negative comments when I’ve been beaten on horses than before that. I've made the effort to explain to people, like when Kameko finished fourth in the Derby and Serpentine won, I did a little clip of about a minute and a half on the way home from Epsom and it had half a million views. I think people really appreciated the fact that I made that simple decision to explain what I believed happened in the race.”
What are your plans moving forward to ensure you’re ready to go when the season starts?
“I trained again this morning after riding out, and I was in Oaksey House twice this week, so I've trained three times total. I've started on the treadmill to get fit and I’ve started eating properly. The heaviest I got to this time was about nine stone thirteen, I was nine stone ten this morning, so I have the guts and a stone to lose. We’re all aware I have another three and a half months plus to do that, so I'm not gonna be killing myself, but I want to get back better than I was. Being fitter doesn't mean I'm gonna ride better, but when I walk into the weighing room, I want to be able to hold my head up high and say that I've made all the right steps to come back here and ride well, you know?”
Do you expect to struggle after being off for so long?
“I'm always apprehensive about this. When I came back from my France Galop suspension I didn't think I could be champion jockey, but I worked very hard and it happened. I've been out for a very long period of time and I've got a point to prove. I'm gonna have to ride winners and show people that I haven't disappeared and what I really want is success.”
What are your expectations for the coming season?
“It'll be the first time I'll be riding without getting drunk in the evenings, so it's very new. I will touch on this now, the last month before I stopped riding on November 12th 2021, I did a month and four days basically sober and I managed to win a group one at the Breeders Cup. I believe I can do it and ride as instinctively and be as on the ball as I was before, but I have to prove that to myself and everyone else. My expectation is, if I get the support and can get on some good horses, I can deliver the results that the horses deserve and are capable of.”
Who would be your main danger in the race for the Champion Jockey title?
“William Buick, you know, he's odds on favourite at like for three or four to one, then there’s me with Tom (Marquand) and Hollie (Doyle) slotting in after. I think he has incredible support and Charlie (Appelby) is a very powerful stable. He rides for a lot of the same people I ride for, he's in form, and he's probably developed stronger links whilst I've been away, so will I be able to get back onside with some of those trainers? It would be very naive to think I can just walk in and hold the same position that I did in 2019 to 2021, but I think I can work my way back there. Whether that's good enough by the first weekend of May when the season begins, only time will tell, but you know, if I can start off and ride well on the all-weather and get on some good horses in Saudi and Dubai, I think that would be a big help. The most important thing is to get back on the world stage early.”
What message would you like to send to racing fans, your fans, or even your critics?
“I feel in very good mental shape, I’ve never looked back at my big winners or my successes in the saddle, so watching Horsepower was quite nice but very strange. I believe that I have a point to prove, but at the same time, I hope I'm now in a mature enough state that I won't allow it to get to me. I hope I can do well and prove that I want to achieve and ride at the highest level.”
I hope you have enjoyed reading this piece as much as I have enjoyed writing it. It has been a privilege to speak to someone as knowledgeable as Oisin with the influence that he has within the racing world. I'd like to thank him for his time and input in this article and wish him all the best with the remainder of his preparations and for the season ahead.