NAME: Ross O’Sullivan
What was your childhood ambition?
From an early age, I always wanted to be a jockey
Growing up, who was your sporting hero?
In racing it was Richard Dunwoody and in soccer, I loved Eric Cantona
Do you have a mentor?
I get great help from my parents who have been involved in racing all their lives
What or where is your happy place?
Driving home from the races after having a winner – there is no better feeling
What sparked your love of racing?
My parents – we were in racing all our lives from ponies as children to going hunting to racehorses.
My parents both worked for the legendary Mick O’Toole in the heyday of Maddenstown. My dad began his career in racing as an apprentice on the Flat before turning to the jumping game and rode plenty of winners. My mum also had a jockey’s licence and won a bumper in Cork for Con Collins.
What horse put you on the map?
Baie Des Iles – she won the Grade 2 Prix des Drags at Auteuil in 2018, the pinnacle of my training career so far
Who is your favourite horse?
The yard favourite is Doonard Prince. He has been with us for a long time and is the character in the yard – he has a great attitude, loves life and he loves racing. He has won six races and at 11 years young he is back in training for this season.
Describe the feeling of training your first winner?
My first winner was ‘He’s Our Man’ ridden by my good friend Andrew McNamara at Limerick on May 5, 2012. It was an unbelievable feeling. I didn’t get half as much a feeling like it when I was a jockey. It is a great sense of satisfaction that your hard work had paid off. Training winners gives a boost to confidence
What is your most memorable racing moment?
It has to be Baie Des Iles’s win in Auteuil in 2018. France was a highlight. Two close friends came with my wife Katie and me. It was all so new and exciting to have our first runner in France and then for the filly to go and win and have our friends there to celebrate with us was magic! If we could repeat that weekend – it would be unbelievable
Katie had ridden her to win the Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Punchestown in February 2017 and that was very special too.
What is your favourite racecourse in Ireland?
It is a toss-up between my two local tracks – Naas and Punchestown
If you weren’t a trainer what would you be?
I would do something outdoors either farming and/or with animals
If you could train one horse, what would it be?
Envoi Allen please
How do you cope with pressure?
I do get nervous and feel pressure, but I think it’s probably a good thing and not a bad thing. Pressure keeps you on our toes
What mental preparation do you do for the big days?
Being organised the night before, sticking to the routine is important. We have great staff which help with the pressure on the big day.
How do you stay motivated?
It is very easy for me to keep motivated because I’m addicted to my job. Obsession is my problem.
How do you deal with dips in form?
Dips are tough but it makes you appreciate the good days when things turn. Same as any sport really.
Outside of racing, what is your favourite sporting moment?
I got a great kick when Tiger Woods won the 2019 Masters. It was brilliant to see such a comeback. Everyone loves a good comeback!
Can you give us a Netflix/film recommendation?
I am addicted to ‘The Last Dance’ – the documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls
What is your guilty pleasure?
Cadbury Fredo bars and blasting Fleetwood Mac in the car
Desert island discs – name your favourite three songs?
Garth Brooks – Standing Outside the Fire
Bruce Springsteen – I’m On Fire
Any Fleetwood Mac track
What person do you admire the most and why?
I’d have to say Willie Mullins for bringing the sport to another level in the last decade
A good Sunday roast
Where is your favourite place to go on holidays?
A road trip in America. We’ve had a few brilliant road trips in America already and we will definitely go back
What ambitions do you still have?
I would love to train the winner of the Irish or English National or both!!!! and keep training plenty of winners
What is the hidden gem of Kildare?
The Irish National Stud
When you think of your home what immediately springs to mind?
Adventures on the Curragh with my sister on our ponies and getting chased off the gallops by Barry Langan, the Curragh training grounds manager!
How are you occupying your time during the Covid-19 restrictions?
We are very busy in the yard and in the evenings loads of Netflix. My wife Katie and I have an eight-month old little girl, so I’ve become champion steriliser
If you had one piece of advice for everyone during these worrying times of Covid-19, what would it be?
If you were to go back to when you were 20 years old and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Follow your dreams – do something you like doing because you will only be good at it if you like what you are doing
“Sure, isn’t that it” – I say it about a million times a day