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Cheltenham is the dream for jockey Ryan Treacy

Always synonymous with St Patrick’s Day is the Cheltenham Festival.  In normal times, thousands of Irish horse racing enthusiasts would descend upon the Gloucestershire town for the pinnacle of National Hunt racing calendar.
 
This year it’s different though and punters and racing fans alike will watch on from afar.
 
For Fermanagh jockey, Ryan Treacy the chance to ride on the final day, in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle is still a small possibility. Declarations are due to be made on Wednesday, so there is still a chance the Donagh jockey could bein the mix on Friday.
 
On Tuesday morning, Treacy was getting his third Covid test to ensure he was physically okay to make the trip and now the decision lies with the owner and trainor if firstly, the horse will run and secondly, that it will be Treacy who mounts that horse if it does. 
 
  With his Cheltenham fate very much hanging in the balance, the 27 year-old is not getting too excited about his chances.
“I’d be nearly certain that I won’t be going but I just have to get this done anyway (Covid test).
“I’ll not know until tomorrow (Wednesday), declarations close at 10 o’clock, so I’ll not know until then whether the horse is going to go or not.”
 
If he doesn’t get the call up, he will have to watch on with the rest of us as 28 top races showcase the best horses in the world. 
“Cheltenham is unbelievable, it’s the place you want to be but you want the calibre of a horse to be going, to have a real chance.
“The atmosphere there is unreal. I haven’t been there in the month of March but looking on the atmosphere and the adrenaline would be just unbelievable, but sure look, some time it would be nice to ride in it but all you can do is keep dreaming. The talent of horse there is next to none.”
 
Treacy lost his claim earlier this year after he rode his 60th winner and now the Donagh man says things are just that bit harder for him.
“With the claim gone things have tightened up big time and it’s just very hard to keep going but I’ve one ride in Down Royal on Friday but it’s quiet, it’s just tough at the minute. 
“You’d love to ride a national winner but it’s very hard , it’s tightened up completely. You enjoy what you’re doing and just keep the head down and that’s all you can do.
“This season from Punchestown festival to now, I’ve over 160 rides and had seven winners. It’s an okay season but you’re always wanting to get better and get on a better type of horse. It’s just a very tough game and you have to have a lot of people backing you and when you don’t have a big stable backing you, it’s a bit tougher.”
 
Treacy rides out of Joseph O’Brien’s yard in Kilkenny but admits, “You’re just down the pecking order, there’s a lot of lads in front of you. You just have to keep working hard and keep the head down – it is very tough but it’s like everything else, you’re not going to get into the best Formula 1 car the first day you get the licence.”
 
The Fermanagh jockey has been with O’Brien for over three years and there’s no doubting it’s a tough business to be involved in.
“The other day I was going to Navan with a horse that was favourite but the next thing the horse was a non-runner like, so it’s a bit hard, and then go to Limerick on Sunday and two horses pull up because they didn’t operate on the ground. It’s just a funny game, one minute it’s great and the next minute it’s not, but you  just have to keep going.”
 
All the while, he still harbours the hope and dream that he’ll move up the pecking order soon.
“Hopefully I’ll get on a couple of nicer horses some way through the year and get a few winners, it would be great.” 
 

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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