Determined Denis O’Regan says he will keep fighting in his
bid to make history and become the first jockey to win at every jumps
racecourse in Britain and Ireland, writes Ben Hart.
Hereford is the only venue to have so far eluded O’Regan and he couldn’t have come much closer last week, when his three rides yielded second, third and fourth place finishes.
The 40-year-old, who hails from Youghal, insists he will not give up in his pursuit of a place in the record books regardless of how long it takes.
“There was an opportunity last season when I could have done it,” said O’Regan.
“I was going over for one of Henry Oliver's and I picked up another spare ride for Tom Faulkner in a three-year-old hurdle.
“When it came to the declarations, Henry decided he couldn't run, so I decided not to go but Jamie Moore rode Tom’s horse and won at 33/1. I haven't had the rub of the green just yet with the whole Hereford thing.
“But I would say I’ve been one of the luckier jockeys. I always seem to land on someone that has a winner somewhere.
“I had a winner in Folkestone and that’s closed now, so I would swap the winner there for one at Hereford.”
While many have only recently become aware of the impending achievement, the Holy Grail has been on O’Regan’s mind for some time.
He thought he had completed the set in the summer of 2020, after winning onboard Ardamir at Bellewstown, only to be informed by his wife that there was still one fence left to jump.
Not to be disheartened by his prolonged wait, O’Regan believes warmer weather and harder ground could be the perfect recipe for his final success.
“I would say the ground has been quite deep during the winter, it hasn't suited the horses I've been riding,” he said.
“When the ground gets a bit better into the spring, I think I'll have a better chance of doing it then, rather than doing it now on the heavy ground.
“It will be a significant landmark but it will be difficult.
“It would be nice to do it but at the same time I’m not pulling my hair out. It's not something I ever thought would happen.”
O’Regan, who has been associated with the likes of Francis Flood, Tony Martin and Gordon Elliott over the years, is not short on trainers who are willing to get him over the line.
And though more than two decades have passed since his first winner, on All Honey at Listowel in 2001, he believes there is plenty left in the tank.
“I’ve trained myself over the years not to get too high or too low,” he said.
“There’s nothing else I’d want to be doing, come rain or shine.
“When you come home after riding a winner, it’s a great feeling and you can’t replace that buzz – that competitive edge is either in you or it’s not.
“I'm still relatively young. The way I’ve minded my body over the years, I work hard at my fitness and ride for a lot of good trainers.
“I see no problem carrying on for a long time to come.”