A TALENTED young Kilkenny lad rode the race of his life when scoring a famous victory in one of the feature events at the Cheltenham Festival.
Conor O’Farrell was the toast of the Irish on St Patrick’s Day when he steered Buena Vista to victory in the Pretemps final handicap hurled.
While Willie Mullins finished as the leading trainer and his nephew Emmett Mullins also scored a big, young O’Farrell claimed his own piece of history when steering home a tremendous 20-1 winner for trainer, David Pipe.
Conor O’Farrell is Kilkenny through and through. He is the son of Seamus and Cathy O’Farrell. Seamus is a native of Thomastown, while Cathy is from West of the big river, a native of Ballinasloe.
David Pipe was near bursting about the quality of the win, but he reserved his finest praise and admiration for the young Kilmoganny lad.
“Conor rode the race of his life,” Pipe insisted. “He showed a maturity well beyond his years. We walked the track in the morning, and we had a good chat. Conor never made the slightest error, following my instructions to the final letter.”
Conor’s brother, J.P. - he won the American Grand National recently - is a freelance jump jockey, presently plying his trade in the North of England, but last week it was all about the young Conor. Seamus, his dad, was at the Festival and he was thrilled with Conor’s success.
“Buena Vista gave him a great trip,” Seamus told the ’People. “I would have to admit that as Conor came storming up that hill in front there was more than a sizeable lump in my throat. The excitement was electric. It really was a tremendous feeling to see one of your kids being led into the winners enclosure.
“This was Conor’s first ride at Cheltenham, so in addition to being offered the leg up by David Pipe, to win was beyond any dream,” he added.
Added to success
Conor added to the success by winning the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter on Minella Fourstar, a horse once owned by Gerry Nallen of the Minella Hotel in Clonmel. Again the horse was trained by David Pipe.
Conor was educated at Kilmoganny national school. He moved on to St Kieran’s College before going on to the Equestrian College in The Curragh.
Conor and J.P. were promising hurlers with Carrickshock before they moved on to racing. J.P. won two under-16 and two minor Roinn A medals with the likes of Richie Power, John Tennyson and John Dalton. Conor has been attached to the Pipe stable since October.
See also Ned Tierney on page 24.