The world may be undergoing huge change but you wouldn’t know it by Gearoid O’Loughlin and Ben Harvey, two rookies of their trade who rocketed on to the main stage at Downpatrick on Sunday by snaring the €50,000 Randox Health Ulster National with Space Cadet, writes Brian Sheerin.
The adulation and the buzz of a big day, and they don’t come much bigger on the northern circuit than Ulster National day, was slightly taken away by the fact that racing was taking place behind closed doors, but the magnitude of the achievement wasn’t
lost on O’Loughlin.
The trainer looks after a string of horses for Chris Jones at the owner’s base in Dunshaughlin, County Meath, and he has done a fine job in reinvigorating Space Cadet, who provided amateur rider Harvey with his first success under rules.
O’Loughlin said: “It's unreal. It's a great pot to win and it was great for the owner who gave me Space Cadet to train at the beginning of the season.
“Ben had won his first point-to-point on him and he knows him well. I thought he'd run well but I said to myself we'd be going pointing with him again next year.
“It was a big shock, but the blinkers worked a treat. The key to training him is not to train him – he hasn't done a stroke since his last run.”
Given O’Loughlin had been plotting another autumn point-to-point campaign before this for Space Cadet, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the young trainer didn’t have a plan B at hand, but suggested a tilt at the Irish Grand National wouldn’t
be beyond all possibility.
He said: “I'm delighted for the horse. He deserved to win a big one. Whether we supplement for the Irish Grand National or something like that, I'm not sure.”