Jane Mangan hasn’t officially ‘retired’ from race-riding – though her role in the thoroughbred racing industry has transformed in recent years.
Jordan McCarthy talks to Jane Mangan about her love of the racing industry
JANE MANGAN hasn’t officially ‘retired’ from race-riding just yet; though her role in the thoroughbred racing industry has transformed in recent years.
The latest chapter in her career is proving to be an exciting one, as she currently holds a position at the powerful Coolmore breeding operation in Fethard, Tipperary.
Her work there entails quite a lot, though her title – bloodstock consultant – perhaps doesn’t truly cover the extent of her duties at the facility.
Essentially, the job with Coolmore is her bread and butter – where she is pursuing her already-strong interest in the breeding of thoroughbreds – in the same way that producing horses is the run of the mill for her parents, Jimmy and Mary, at their established yard in Conna.
Mangan remains an important part of the team at the family stable, which happens to be a Grand National-winning operation.
Every weekend, she returns to ride out, and to lend a helping hand to her parents.
Along with that, the 24-year-old is a panellist with RTÉ, where she has taken on a punditry role.
She happens to be a weekly columnist with the Evening Echo, too.
Life is busy, for the grade one-winning rider. But, it’s certainly proving to be enjoyable at the minute.
She’s not yet planning a U-turn, on the decision to take a hiatus from raceriding and, though there is no mention of the ‘r’ word either, she is more than pleased to further her career outside the rails, for the foreseeable future.
‘‘I made a decision and, as I never put a label on it, – because I’m young – if I ever wanted to come back (race-riding), then I could. But, at the moment, I am happy with the way everything is going. I wouldn’t see why I would change anything anyway.
“I still ride out at home every weekend – I love to sit on new animals all the time and see if we have a new star,’’ Mangan said.
There were a significant number of equine stars on display at the recent edition of Irish Champions Weekend, and Mangan gave a good account of herself on media duties at the Curragh. She proved to be insightful, opinionated and offered her own personal touch to the coverage of day two of ICW.
Mangan doesn’t necessarily see her herself as a voice for the younger generation of racegoers, though she does believe that having a blend of youth, and experience, on the RTÉ Racing panel is important.
She’s of the opinion that factoring in gender balance improves the audience experience as well.
‘‘I have a different perspective,’’ she says. I don’t have the knowledge, or the memories, of Robert Hall or Ted Walsh.
“But I think I have a different perspective on things.
“I don’t remember Vincent O’Brien, but Aidan O’Brien is the ‘Vincent’ of my generation. It’s lovely to have that contrast and I think it works well.
“It’s nice to have a girl between the two lads, because we are always saying
it’s a male-dominated sport.
“In the last five years, hasn’t it really turned upside down?
“Look at Rachel Blackmore in the saddle, and Jessica Harrington training, and it’s only natural that every spectrum should have a gender balance in it.’’
The Corkonian was nine years old when Monty’s Pass triumphed in the Aintree Grand National of 2003.
She remembers cheering her Dad’s charge on – as he landed the most-renowned horserace of them all – in the surroundings of her grandparents’ house.
Ever before that, an even younger Mangan would sit aboard ponies in her garden at home.
She later discovered a love for riding horses and it wasn’t long before she was applying for an amateur jockeys’ licence.
‘‘I wasn’t the most natural rider from the get-go. Patrick (my brother) was always better. When I was around 14, I started riding out racehorses.
“I really got the taste for it then. I had my first ride when I was 17.
“Things kind of snowballed very quickly. I had my first track ride, which was my first track winner (Jamie’s Darling in a bumper in 2011) in Cork. Then at the following year’s Galway festival, I had the big winner (in the Carlton Hotel Q.R Handicap aboard Midnight Music).
“It was amazing how quickly things happened. I was in-demand and the name was out there.
‘‘(I remember) I was in fifth year in Loreto, Fermoy. I was taking half-days to go to Gowran Park or, when I was in my leaving cert year, and I was going to Fairyhouse to ride for Tom Taaffe.
“Patrick met me on the road somethat where and I jumped into the car with him.
“We went up and I won the bumper for Tom. I stayed with Patrick in Tipperary, so I never went home.
“I arrived into school the next day with no homework done – sure when was I going to get to do it!’’
Mangan achieved a first top-level victory in 2013, when she guided David Pipe’s The Liquidator to success in the Grade One Betdaq Champion INH Flat Race at the Punchestown festival.
She will undoubtedly cherish that moment forever more, though she won’t be in a rush to forget Conna Castle either, a top-level winner for the Mangan family yard, which also proved very influential to her development as a rider.
‘‘I had four or five point to point wins on Conna Castle. “He was a huge horse to get to ride. When the owners (Kings Syndicate) let me have him for pointto-points, that was a dream.
“The fact that everybody in the yard loved him and he was a grade one winner, I felt a bit of pressure riding him because, if anything happened, it was going to be my fault, as the horse was A1. But he minded me, he taught me an awful lot about race-riding and that is instrumental in anybody’s career – to have the ideal horse to learn the trade from.’’
Horses such as Conna Castle, The Liquidator, Monty’s Pass and Presenting Percy are among the standout names in Mangan’s ever-growing affinity with thoroughbred racing.
After all, as she herself states, the horses are what make the game so special.
‘‘Anybody who stays in racing for the long-term will be in it for the love of the horses. “If a rider gets into racing because they like the spotlight, then they won’t last very long.
“You have to love the horses. And that goes for trainers as well, and people even talking about horses. “You can tell if somebody genuinely has a love for racing, or if they are just in it for gambling. You can tell by the manner in which they speak.
‘‘Concerts and all that stuff are fine, I’m not going to say anything against (those initiatives), but if you want to attract long-term fans into the sport, they have to have an admiration for the animal. “At the end of the day, if somebody loves greyhound racing, they love dogs. It’s the same for horse racing.’’
The Mangan family certainly love Monty’s Pass; their pet, hero and local icon. He’s 25 years young now, and he has been the horse of a lifetime for the local racing clan.
‘‘He is still at home. We’ll probably never see the likes of him at home again. “He’s treated like a first-class resident at home and deservedly so.
“If we had nothing more in the morning, we are in the history books and he’ll be remembered.’’
Jane Mangan in the parade ring after winning the Carlton Hotel Galway City Handicap on Midnight Magic in 2012.
Jockeys Nina Carberry and Jane Mangan after they were presented with the Mary Hyde cup having tied for the leading lady rider for the National Hunt season.
Jimmy and Jane Mangan after a Point to Point success.
A general view of runners and riders passing by a rainbow after the Tattersalls Ireland George Mernagh Memorial Sales Bumper including, from front, Blairs Cove, with Jane Mangan up, Calicojack, with Nina Carberry up, and Moscow River, with Steven Crawford up.