Foley savouring learning from Walsh as he targets another successful season

Last year's leading conditional jockey is soaking up expertise from the best in the business

Friday, November 18, 2022
Jack Foley 18112022

Jack Foley enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2021/22 and is hoping to continue his progression

Rising star Jack Foley is savouring every moment learning from his hero Ruby Walsh as he looks to emulate last season’s memorable achievements, writes Alec McQuarrie.

Foley is the reigning leading conditional jockey after recording 44 wins in 2021/22, benefiting from a close link-up with Willie Mullins and the 12-time Irish champion jockey.

Having won just twice the season before, Foley’s exploits saw him burst on to the scene and he now hopes to make use of his illustrious connections to continue the momentum.

“I’m delighted to be involved in that [Willie Mullins’] yard,” he said. “They’re high-class horses and he’s a great boss.

“There’s an amazing team working there and they’re all very helpful as well. If you ever needed advice there was no problem asking for it.

“He always reassured me that we’d get there and that there was no need to panic. 

“For me, Ruby [Walsh] was always the one. On the TV, even when you were younger watching it you always knew how good Ruby was.

“To be working with him now, he’s a big help to me. If you asked him something he’d tell you about it, but if he’d seen something he’d tell you first too.”

A memorable success on board El Barra at Punchestown last April, which sealed the conditional title, ranks high among the 23-year-old’s career highlights to date.

El Barra stormed home by six lengths and though Foley fell just short of Darragh O’Keeffe’s record 45 wins by a conditional jockey, he has nothing but fond memories of his breakthrough campaign.

“You can never really expect to ride that many winners or even that amount of rides,” he said. 

“I was coming into last season with not many connections. I hadn’t a whole lot of rides the season before either.  

“But everything went right and a lot of trainers and owners supported me throughout the whole season.

“It was good to be getting that support and it was magic, really, the way it all worked. 

“That [Punchestown] was my first big handicap, Grade A novice chase and I had won a beginners’ chase on El Barra in Limerick a couple of weeks before. He was the special one.  

“It was some thrill. The crowd was massive that day and he put in a really good performance from the front.”

With last season now consigned to the history books, Foley is looking ahead and he has 15 wins under his belt so far in this campaign.

With the help of decorated jockey David Casey and new agent Ciaran O’Toole, his future looks bright and Foley is excited by what lies in wait.

“You always try and match what you did in the season before,” he added. “I’d just like to improve and I’m in this season now with no claim so it’s the same for everyone.

“It gets a bit tougher but we’ll just keep working away. It’s just about keeping the contacts, hopefully making more and improving your own riding as well. 

“Last year I was lucky I rode a couple doubles and a couple trebles as well. They’re all great to look back on. But you’ve got to keep moving forward and you can’t keep dwelling on the past.” 

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