Andy Slattery - Tipperary jockey destined for the top
Tipperary's Andy Slattery is one of the most promising jockeys in the sport and the champion apprentice. From Killenaule, he is the son of trainer Andrew Slattery.
In association with Horse Racing Ireland, the nineteen year old, joint champion apprentice last year, talks about his time in lockdown while racing is cancelled.
What was your childhood ambition?
My childhood ambition was to be a soccer player ironically enough, I wasn’t long about biting the bullet
Growing up, who was your sporting hero?
My sporting hero when I was growing up was Cristiano Ronaldo, I fancied myself to be as good as him.
Do you have a mentor?
I am extremely lucky that I have a lot of help from my family, but Pat Smullen has been a massive help to me and my career.
What or where is your happy place?
I would have to say my happy place is a Chinese or Italian restaurant.
What sparked your love of racing?
I initially got my interest in racing from watching my cousin Ben Coen ride in pony races. I started when I was 14 which was late, and I don’t think anyone saw it coming that I’d be a jockey.
What horse put you on the map?
I couldn’t put it down to one, as every horse has been a help to me. Sharjah gave me half of my rides in my first year riding and he was great. Rapid Reaction gave me my first Premier Handicap winner at Naas in September 2018 and Kastasa was my first Group winner at the Curragh last September, so I’ve been blessed with nice horses. Jassaar and Woody Creek have been very good to me as well.
Who is your favourite horse?
Kastasa is my favourite horse. We have won four races together, one of which she narrowly edged out Sharjah. It’s really hard to pick a favourite because I really enjoy riding horses that I sit on at home or ride work and you get to know them.
What was it like to ride in your first race?
My first ride was on Feotanach at Limerick Racecourse in October 2017 and it was class. I had experience from pony racing and being surrounded by horses but riding against the top jockeys you are always watching on TV was unbelievable.
How long does it take to learn race-riding tactics?
I am not too sure, you kind of have to let the horse do the story telling. You can only ride a race where your horse will take you in their comfort zone. Your own judgement is used, I would like to think that I am getting the hang of it.
Describe the feeling of riding your first winner?
My first winner was Sharjah for my father Andy (Sr) on the 15th of December 2017 and it is a day I will never forget that is for sure. I was ecstatic and speechless, and I can’t remember what I said after the race in the debrief. I can just remember crossing the line the joy that it brought, especially to have my first winner on a family horse and stable favourite. I can remember all of the calls and texts I received. I felt like I was on top of the world!
What is your most memorable racing moment?
I would have to say riding a treble on Guineas weekend in 2019. To be leading rider with Ryan Moore on Guineas weekend at the Curragh was an unbelievable feeling and something I will certainly never forget. Also, it was my first time teaming up with Mr Weld and my first two rides for him that weekend were winners in valuable races. It was unreal.
What is your favourite racecourse in Ireland?
I would have to say The Curragh. The ground is always immaculate, and I have had a lot of luck around there. I have been lucky enough to ride a lot of winners around Ireland’s premier Flat track.
If you weren’t a jockey what would you be?
I am not too sure to be honest. I have a good Leaving Certificate behind me but that is not saying I would be any good at anything. No doubt it would be something to do with the horse racing industry anyway, maybe bloodstock as it is something, I have a big interest in already.
If you could ride one horse, what would it be?
You would have to say Frankel, he was just class.
How do you cope with pressure?
I usually don’t get pressured too easy. I read through races a lot, so I’d say that adds to me playing down the pressure
What mental preparation do you do for the big days?
The big days are like any other day. You have to prepare for the big days the same as the small days or else you are at nothing! I always do a lot of homework on races no matter if they are big or small. The bigger races take a little more thinking as they can turn into tactical affairs.
How do you stay motivated?
I think that riding good horses keeps every jockey motivated but I like looking back on my winners and that kind of keeps the buzz going. Unfortunately, it is very seldom everyone gets to ride good horses, so you just have to keep working hard and hoping things happen. I would say riding good horses keeps me motivated.
How do you deal with dips in form?
You have to try and grab the problem before it gets too far because there is so many good jockeys in Ireland now, you can’t really afford dips in form - you have to try and keep on the ball all the time, which isn’t always easy because we all make mistakes.
Outside of racing, what is your favourite sporting moment?
I suppose being from Tipperary and Killenaule, hurling is a big thing here so I would have to say Tipperary winning the All-Ireland in 2016 was brilliant as they had a couple of poor years in between.
Can you give us a Netflix/film recommendation?
I have watched all the Peaky Blinders episodes and I like it a lot, so I am hoping another season comes out soon!
What is your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure would have to be chocolate, it is too tempting.
Desert island discs – name your favourite three songs?
I’ve a strange taste in music I could listen to literally anything
The Lumineers – Ophelia
Robin Schulz – Oh Child
Peaky Blinders - Silky
What person do you admire the most and why?
Pat Smullen, because of the battle that he went through and still does all he can to help me in any way he can.
I would have to say steak.
Where is your favourite place to go on holidays?
I haven’t been to enough places to say yet. We went to Tenerife last year at the end of the season and had a good time!
What ambitions do you still have?
My ambitions are to just keep getting stronger and improving on my riding. Short-term, I would love to be Champion Apprentice again, but Ireland is so competitive for young jockeys now so if you don’t improve there’s another lad waiting to take your spot.
What is the hidden gem of Tipperary?
The hills of Killenaule!!!
When you think of Tipperary what immediately springs to mind?
Horse racing and hurling!
How are you occupying your time during the Covid-19 restrictions?
Lately, I have been back playing a lot of hurling when I am not working and I am enjoying it, so I’m keeping busy!
If you had one piece of advice for everyone during these worrying times of Covid-19, what would it be?
Keep busy. It is easier said than done but the days go much quicker if you have something to occupy yourself.
What is the first thing you will do when we all get back to normal?
I am not too sure I haven’t really thought about anything, just looking forward to racing getting back.
"If you want to look good in front of thousands, you have to out work thousands in front of nobody.”