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10 Aug 2022

A Day in the Life - Jane Davis

Jane Davis is taking on the Corinthian Cahllebge in aid of the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund

A Day in the Life - Jane Davis

Jane Davis lives and breathes horses here in Kilkenny. Originally from Dublin, as a child her parents drove the length and breadth of the country every weekend bringing her to shows.

As a teenager she spent the summer riding out for Dermot Weld on the Curragh. This was her first introduction to racehorses and over the years she has continued to ride out as a hobby.

Now that hobby has turned into her completing the Corinthian Challenge – the biggest horse race fundraiser for the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund.

The challenge comprises of three horse races that offers participants a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience what it is like to be a jockey, riding at some of Ireland’s best racecourses.

They will be racing in the Curragh Racecourse on July 17, Kilkenny’s Gowran Park Racecourse on September 17, and Leopardstown Racecourse on October 22.

Jane has put months of training in for these races, all around her day job as Head of Equine Marketing at RED MILLS. Here is a glimpse into Jane’s world…

Jane, why are you taking on this incredible challenge?

I love the sport of Horse Racing, however, there is huge risk involved in race riding and I believe this is a unique opportunity to fundraise to support the ongoing work and services provided by the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund, not just for jockeys who get injured but also to support them in their lives and career development after their race riding years.  

To combine this chance to give back to the industry that I have been lucky enough to build a career from and to experience what it’s like to ride on the track is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

So, have you horse raced before?

I have never ridden in a race before or at a racecourse even though I have ridden horses all my life. I first rode a racehorse when I was 16, it was the year of Foot & Mouth in 2001 and I was in transition year in school. I took a few months off school and began to ride out for Dermot Weld. I was bitten by the bug and it’s something I have kept up since then and it’s a skill I am so grateful to have.

However, I have worked directly or indirectly for all three of the racecourses that will host the Corinthian Challenge races so it’s going to feel very strange to be trackside.

For the last two and a half years I have been riding out for Tom Mullins, Tom is a brilliant trainer, a real horseman, he has been so supportive and has helped me so much and I have learned a huge amount from watching him train and care for his horses.

What's the best advice you have received about your riding?

Not to panic! Horses are incredible animals, there is no greater feeling than when you can feel a horse really trying for you. Building that partnership and trust is what I love about riding horses, it’s a real privilege. 

Jane Davis (R) with her coach Siobhan O'Hara at TJ Reid Health & Fitness

What has the training consisted of?

Riding in a race is a unique experience, and even though I ride out most mornings before work, I have never physically experienced what it’s like to ride in a race, so I have had to do a lot of training both with the horses and in the gym.

I have been working with Siobhan O’Hara who is one of the trainers in TJ Reid Health & Fitness; the team there has been amazing and have helped me work on building my strength, fitness, and endurance.

I had so many misconceptions about training in the gym. When you think jockey, you think about weight and I was so worried that by doing more resistance training that I would put on weight, but the guys were able to show me that isn’t true and how vital is would be for me to build my core strength and muscle so that I will be as prepared as possible to cope with the physical demands of riding in a race.

I am time poor so not always able to get to the gym, so the guys gave me home workouts to do specifically designed around my needs and the few bits of equipment at home that was all done through their TJ Reid Online coaching App which was amazing. I have learned so much working with Siobhan and have had to really trust the process and focus on consistency. So far, I have lost 4kgs and 27.5cms and most importantly I feel fit and strong.

I have also been getting lessons on the horse simulator at the RACE, the jockey school in Kildare (Racing Academy Centre for Education) with former jockey and jockey coach Paddy Flood who has been brilliant and given me some great advice.

A lot of early starts for you.

My day usually starts at 6am, I could walk the dog or go for a run before going into Tom’s to ride one racehorse but a quick change and heading to work. Show horses are my hobby so I could ride them in the evening after work or do my home workout and on a Thursday, I do PT with Siobhan at 6am.

You work in the equine world, but why are you so fascinated by horse racing?

As soon as I left school, I wanted to work within the racing industry, having spent a transition year riding out for Dermot Weld I knew this was the industry for me. As much as I loved riding, I didn’t think I was good enough, so I went down the business route.

I started a college work-placement in Leopardstown where I remained in a marketing role for 5 years until I moved to Tipperary Racecourse where I was the manager for two years before returning to HRI, as Racecourse Marketing Support Manager. 

I have worked for Connolly’s RED MILLS for the last five and a half years as Head of Equine marketing, it’s a role I love and have had the opportunity to travel the world meeting our customers and their horses.

At RED MILLS we put the horse at the centre of everything we do, manufacturing products that are designed to nourish, support and care for our customers' horses. My role is to promote all three of our equine brands, RED MILLS, Foran Equine and Carr & Day & Martin, which I consider a privilege.

I have always loved horses; I suppose my parents thought I would grow out of it but no such luck!!!

Ireland is the land of the horse and has produced some of the best horses, jockeys, and trainers in the world. It’s a fantastic sport and I am fascinated by the training process and how trainers prepare horses for races, optimising their health, fitness, and performance.

There is huge skill involved in race riding. As spectators it can be hard to appreciate exactly what goes on during a race, the tactics, split second decisions, I can’t wait to get a chance to experience it.

There is a huge rise in female successful jockeys - Rachel Blackmore, Jodie Townsend, to name a few. Why do you think more women don't get into the sport?

I hope that’s changing now, just look at this year’s line-up for the Corinthian Challenge. Equestrian sport is unique, men and women compete on an equal playing field. Horse Racing is a physically demanding sport but the likes of Rachael Blackmore, Jody Townend, Aine O’Connor and Lisa O’Neil have really ignited the belief in so many young girls who aspire to being a jockey and have opened the minds of owners and trainers not to overlook girls and to give them the opportunities they deserve.

So how can we help you fundraise for the Corinthian Challenge?

I have a Just Giving page which is linked on all my social media platforms. I have been blown away by the support and people's generosity. I can’t describe how much it has motivated me and inspired me to keep training and working hard.

 Jane Davis is fundraising for Irish Injured Jockeys Fund (justgiving.com)

 www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jane-davis19

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