Race of their Life: Ian Power

Ian ranks one special day at Leopardstown as his best

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Power, pictured here at Limerick in December 2020, repaid Meade's faith in him in 2004

For a punter, finding a good claimer (an inexperienced jockey being given a weight allowance against more experienced riders) can be worth its weight in gold.

For a jockey, to prove you are worth the ride on a horse as a claimer is a huge thing.

For Ian Power, he managed to do just that as he earned the biggest win of his career.

We spoke to Ian about his greatest day as a jockey, and he had only one answer.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and many leading lights have banged in winners over the years while claiming allowances.

It’s been a long time in the game now for Ian Power, who retired from riding midway through the last decade only to return recently and get back in the winners circle notably with Master McShee at Leopardstown.

But, it was at that same venue 16 years prior that Power proved his talent with victory on the Noel Meade-trained Watson Lake in the Grade 3 betfaIrish com Golden Cygnet Novice Hurdle.

It may not have sunk in at the time, but the significance of the victory has over time dawned on him.

“I was probably still very immature back then, I didn’t appreciate what I had when I had it,” Power said.

“In life, if you don’t appreciate who you are you’re not going to appreciate what you’re doing or the people around you.

“The most important relationship you have in life is with yourself and over time I really came to appreciate that win.

“I rode Master McShee the day he won in Leopardstown last year. That was a really big day because the last winner I rode on TV would have probably been Watson Lake.

“To ride another winner at Leopardstown was fantastic, I appreciated the Master McShee winner at the time more. I’m more mature now and can take it in better now.”

More important than the result, was the nature of how Power even got to ride the horse in the first place.

As a seven-pound claimer, Power was never booked for the ride with champion jockey Barry Geraghty the original plan.

But, after much persuading, Meade backed Power’s talent to do the job. 

“I remember I was going to Fairyhouse on the Friday morning and I asked Noel who was riding the horse, and he was letting me ride the horses anyway, but he wasn’t too sure what to do because I was only a seven-pound claimer at the time,” Power added.

“I met him outside the weigh room and I said ‘I’ve got no other races, what about yours?’ He said ‘look, you can ride in a race tomorrow but you can’t ride Watson Lake in the Graded hurdle because you can’t claim.’

“Watson Lake had been so keen in recent races but hadn’t got home and I got on with him so well, so I said ‘will it not be worth leaving me on even though I can’t claim?’

“He was such a difficult horse to ride at the time. Noel already had Barry Geraghty riding him but he agreed, he just asked which of us was going to tell Barry he wasn’t riding him anymore!”

After all the fuss pre-race, in the end it was a doddle for Power as he delivered a perfect ride to see Watson Lake home by four lengths.

A ‘surreal’ experience, relief was the initial emotion after having put himself out there so much in getting the nod for the race.

Power said: “I lost out at the start. Walked around but ended up dropping him in and coming through and winning the race pretty easily.

“It was everything that led up to it. From me being a claimer to winning on him in a Graded race when I wasn’t going to be put on him in the first place.

“When Barry Geraghty is available, do you put him on the horse or a seven-pound claimer? That was a big thing for me that Noel trusted me to ride him, and the fact that it worked out.

“When you’re a claimer and getting to ride on a good horse in a maiden hurdle is one thing, but when you’re all of a sudden getting to ride as a claimer in a Graded race for the champion trainer in Ireland, everything has to go right then.

“You’ve put yourself out there saying you want to ride the horse and you’re the man to drop him in and do the job, you then get an overwhelming feeling of butterflies.

“It was surreal for everything to work out the way it did work out. The feeling I got when I crossed the line, it was incredible knowing it had all worked out so well for me.

“Claimers don’t ride in Graded races and Barry had already been told he was riding the horse. You’re riding a horse that the champion jockey was meant to. That was a brilliant day.”

Claimers don’t ride in Graded races and Barry had already been told he was riding the horse. You’re riding a horse that the champion jockey was meant to. That was a brilliant day.

- Ian Power 

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