Kathy O’hara’s Unique ‘Stress Re­lease’

Kathy O’hara’s love of event­ing and show jump­ing was the cat­a­lyst for a suc­cess­ful ca­reer in thor­ough­bred rac­ing.

Ladies in Racing - - Contents - Story by Ray Hick­son • Im­ages by Steve Hart

There are four horses on Kathy’s five-acre prop­erty that mean as much to her as any tro­phy sit­ting in her cab­i­net. They rep­re­sent both the rea­son she was able to de­velop into a Group 1-win­ning jockey and what will be a large part of her fu­ture be­yond horse rac­ing. From around the age of 12, Kathy and her sis­ter Tracy, started out in event­ing and show jump­ing and a zest for rid­ing was born, that would even­tu­ally lead both sis­ters into the rac­ing in­dus­try. Kathy said, “It’s a real pas­sion of mine, I love do­ing it and the rea­son I wanted to get into race rid­ing. None of my fam­ily was in­volved in rac­ing, it was only through the horses that came about.”

Prior to start­ing her ap­pren­tice­ship, with event­ing and show jump­ing well and truly in the fore­front, Kathy bought two mares to com­pete on. When she turned 15 and the life of a jockey took over, the mares were rested un­til some years later, when she made the de­ci­sion to breed from them. Each pro­duced two foals and those four horses now form Kathy’s pas­sion and, since she re­sumed event­ing about five years ago, are part of what drives her on the track.

“We waited a while to breed with them. One is seven now, two are four and one is five,” she said. “It’s been a long process get­ting there. I put the mares on the back­burner a bit and didn’t re­ally do any­thing with them when I started rid­ing be­cause I was here, there and ev­ery­where They are all quite young, they don’t sound young, but in terms of showjumpers a four-year-old is very young. Seven is prob­a­bly the prime age to start go­ing through the lev­els but I’m pretty ex­cited about two of my young ones.”

Those two horses are called Ziva and Emma and com­pete un­der the names of Vespa Mar­tini and Em­masary Lass.

When she’s not com­mit­ted to the races, Kathy spends as much time put­ting the horses through their paces and tak­ing them to com­pe­ti­tions.

“Pri­mar­ily in the sum­mer months she’ll sneak in a ride be­tween track­work and the races, and she has a true de­sire to see her horses re­alise their full po­ten­tial.

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