JARLATH Fahey is quietly proving himself to beadept at nurturing talent in the saddle as well as training horses.
The burgeoning careers of the young jockeys who have been given their leg up in the racing world at his Monasterevin yard are testament to his skills. That list is headed by champion amateur flat jockey Ronan Whelan, whose friendship with Fahey’s daughter helped introduce the rising star into racing.
“Ronan started messing around here with ponies when he was younger. He was friends with my daughter, and progressed on from there. I wouldn’t say I gave him a start or anything but he did a bit of riding our for me and did a bit of hunting and hunter trials on the kids’ ponies. He got the bug and went on from there to be what he is now and hopefully a future champion jockey, all being well,” says Fahey.
The trainer is proud to have played a part in Whelan’s march to the title last season, as the young star rode his family’s Balladiene to victory three times, culminating with a big handicap at the Curragh on Oaks day. The mare was Fahey’s flag-bearer during the summer.
“We’re all delighted to see him be so successful and it was a big thrill last year to play a part in him winning the title. He won for us on Balladiene earlyish enough in the season and was a big help in propelling him and putting momentum into his campaign to be champion apprentice. She won at the right time for him and got his name out there.”
Whelan is apprenticed to a master trainer. Jim Bolger’s eye for talent, equine and human, has been well documented but Fahey’s stables are developing a reputation as a new racing academy. The champion apprentice heads a list of Fahey graduates that have caught the attention of the racing world.
Apprentice Ross Coakley started off riding out for him when his family first moved to the area from Dublin. Fahey is delighted to have provided his nephews Mark and Brendan with winners. He was responsible for Mark’s first winner under rules and Brendan’s debut success on the point-to-point circuit. The biggest thrill of all was seeing his daughter Ciara ride her first winner on his mare Lea Lady in a hurdle at Tramore in October 2010.
“I would firmly believe that if you have a young lad who’s working for you and doing things right at home, and helping you out it’s only fair to give them a chance,” says Fahey. “I wouldn’t be the first trainer to go running for a professional for my horses. I’d stick with the lads who are a help to me and I’d hope to help them along too.
“A lot of the young jockeys that have started here are relations and it’s great to be able to give them a helping hand at the beginning of their careers. It’s brilliant to get the winners myself too so I can help them out. It’s a double bonus to know them and provide them with winners. I’ve been lucky that the few lads who have come through the place have turned out to be good. I can’t go claiming credit for it but it’s worked out well. A lot of them come from pony racing. They’re well tutored before they ever go out on the track and have plenty of experience under their belts before they move on which always stands to them.”
His daughter Aoife is the newest recruit to the Fahey academy and although still in school she too will graduate to the jockey ranks sometime in the near future. His operation is a family affair, with wife Suzanne looking after the paperwork and office duties. Leigh Roche, Ian McCarthy and Ross Coakley all ride work for him too.
Family is what the Faheys are about. From the ponies their parents had around the homestead in Cloneygath while they were growing up, sprung an interest and passion that has enveloped their family. Three of Jarlath’s brothers – Seamus, Peter and Paul – are trainers while Thomas and Paul are talented farriers. Another brother, Brendan, is a breeder. Their sister Siobhan is married to Anthony Callan, who bred Owega Star, owned by their mother Maureen and trained by Peter.
Fahey rode a couple of bumper winners before the lure of the training ranks became too powerful to resist.
“I first started training myself about eight years ago. Before that I was an employee with Glanbia in Monasterevin but the horses were more a hobby back then than a living. We just got lucky. I got a few nice horses and they won some races for us and from that I started training publically for other people.
“I used to own a horse in partnership with another local man, Joseph Flanagan, and the horse was trained by my brother. She won four races for us on the flat and the gave me the bug so I took out a licence for myself and started to train.”
Even then family support was important.
“My first winner as a trainer was Gone No More owned by my mother Maureen. Back then it was mostly only family horses that we were involved with. After that I got a few more horses, took out my public licence and started training for a few people.”
Maca Rince was the standard bearer in the early years, winning the Grade Three Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse’s Royal Bond meeting in December 2007. Since then Balladiene and now Jennies Jewel have shone brightest for him.
His yard is near those of his brothers with Seamus and Peter just down the road and Paul in nearby Nurney. There is healthy rivalry on the track but cooperation and help off it.
“We all get on well together and where we might be in competition with one another on the track, off it we’re still a close family. We all have our own client bases built up through the years and it works well for us.”
Fahey is also a breeder and his first homebred foals will be seen on the track later this year, hopefully with Aoife on board. With his talent for developing people and horses the Fahey academy is certain to continue to have more honours graduates on the horizon.