INTERVIEW: AIDAN FITZGERALD

INTERVIEW: AIDAN FITZGERALD

03 April 2017

After gaining recognition as a top amateur jockey, Aidan Fitzgerald has now carved a successful career for himself as a point-to-point handler and pre-trainer. Based at Cobajay Stables in County Carlow, notable graduates include Roberto Goldback (IRE), Last Instalment (IRE), Hidden Cyclone (IRE) and Felix Yonger (IRE). ITM’s Amy Lynam spoke to Fitzgerald to learn more about his latest winners and how he sources these future stars.

One of your exciting recruits at the moment is Kupatana (IRE), who won her point debut at Monskgrange by eight lengths. You picked her up at the Goresbridge for just €1,700. What did you see in her?

You always find a bit of value at Goresbridge and to be honest, I was in having a cup of tea when Richie Deegan told me there was a mare I needed to see. She was a fine mare with a good walk. We would have given more for her.

She wasn’t right for a long time; she was coughing and other things, but had been going very well for the past two months. She beat all the geldings in her last piece of work- I think she’s very good.

Knight In Dubai (IRE) is another recent winner, successful at Durrow by three lengths. What can you tell us about him?

He’s a nice horse. I knew he’d improve from his first run and he showed he had a turn of foot when he won, so I think he’ll win a bumper. He’s out of a Bob Back mare, which I like. I also like Saddler’s Hall and Supreme Leader (IRE) mares.

You seem to have a knack for buying good racehorses with a bit of value. What characteristics will you insist on in an individual?

They always need to have a good walk and have a presence about them. I like the dam to be out of something nice and damsires are also important.

Is there an older sire that you feel is under rated?

Court Cave (IRE). He’s a fine sire and he proved that at Cheltenham. Scorpion is another one- I could buy them all day long. His progeny need to be trained individually but I’ve trained plenty of winners by him.

What is your opinion on the current programme NH fillies and what do you think could be done to improve the prospects for or appeal of NH fillies?

I think they have good opportunities under rules now but I think we need more four-year-old maidens for them. People might say that there are not enough mares to fill them but there are as many mares as there are geldings; and if they had the point-to-points to run in, we might get more fillies to train for point-to-points.

How do you think your career as an amateur has affected your approach to training?

I was lucky to work for three very good trainers- Michael Hourigan, Paul Nolan and Sean Treacy. They are all very different but that was great as it meant I learnt new things from each of them.

As an amateur, you learn how to handle people, so I guess it made me a ‘people person’, which helps how I work with owners. But at the end of the day, I’m influenced by those who excel in this game. I look at Colin Bowe, Denis Murphy and Donnchadh Doyle, and I know I need to do what they’re doing.

You have a website for Cobajay Stables, run a Twitter account, and sponsor races. How has this marketing affected your stable numbers?

It’s definitely had a direct impact on our numbers and sales. Twitter is great for keeping people informed on your success and the website is a great way for giving owners and buyers a good impression of the yard. In fact, Tom Malone advised a syndicate to buy a mare privately from us after finishing third in a maiden at Athlacca. After seeing our website (www.aidanfitzgeraldracing.com), the syndicate decided to visit and ended up buying the mare. I’m not sure they would have if they didn’t learn more through our site.

Do you have a favourite point-to-point track?

Borris House, which is our local track.

What horse do you rate as the best to have passed through your yard?

Bordini was the best point-to-pointer we trained.  He won two bumpers, including a Listed, but then experienced a bit of bad luck. We actually have his Beneficial half-brother, called Ben Ruben (IRE), here. I think he could be very special; he’s a lovely young horse. 

Pilgrim’s Bay (IRE) is another good graduate of ours- he was a big, honest chaser with a great walk. Again, he was out of a Supreme Leader (IRE) mare, and we bought him for €13,000 at the Goffs Land Rover Sale. After three runs, we sold him on to Tom Malone and he won the valuable Grade 3 Betbright Handicap Chase for Neil Mulholland last month. 

We have 18 to 20 four-year-olds left to run at the moment. We’re lucky to have the staff that we do, we have a great bunch of owners and of course, there’s my lovely wife!

 

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