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

Irish Examiner - County - - Front page -

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.’’

Pic­ture: Barry Cregg/SPORTSFILE

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.

Pic­ture: Cody Glenn/SPORTSFILE

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.

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