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Next Generation | Rider - Stephen Connor

Stephen Connor has been firmly establishing himself as an up and coming rider in the point-to-point sphere over the last number of seasons.

With 12 winners between-the-flags and a further three winners under rules, the Galway native certainly has a wealth of experience to his name.

With the backing of Timmy Hyde behind him, Connor has enjoyed some smart winners in the four-year-old ranks and this certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed with the likes of Colin Bowe, Sam Curling, Willie Murphy and Kieran Purcell amongst others, availing of his services this season.

Going forward Stephen Connor looks well placed to capitalise on these opportunities. 

Next Generation | Rider
Name: Stephen Connor
Area: Ballybrit, Galway

Are you from a racing background?

I grew up right next to Galway racecourse and would have done a lot of show jumping and hunting growing up. I would have always been following racing and it all went from there really.

How did you become involved in racing?

I started riding out for the Dunleavey’s and Martin Cullinane when I was still in school.

After I finished my leaving cert I spent a year in Tipperary with Tracey Gilmore who pre – trains for Willie Mullins.

I went to John Ryan for a season after that, before spending four years with Pat Doyle. I have been based with Timmy Hyde now for the last three years.

Talk to us about your riding career to date?

I rode my first winner on a mare of our own, Caitlin Brook at Rockfield back in 2015. I have stayed in touch with John Ryan and I had actually finished second on her in a bumper on my first ride on the track and a few years later John sold her to us to go point-to-pointing.

I was riding her out in Pat Doyle’s and it was a great day in Rockfield, between being involved with her at home and riding my first winner it was a great start.

Things have been tipping away grand since I started with Timmy Hyde. I have been getting plenty of rides and we have a nice bunch of horses. We have let a lot of the young horses off but we are looking forward to a good Autumn, we would have 15 or 16 horses riding out in here.

Timmy also has some nice horses with the likes of Sam Curling, Johnny Berry and a couple of different handlers. I would school a lot of them and I get to ride them as well, so I have ridden a few nice four-year-old winners over the last couple of seasons.

I broke my leg back in the Autumn, but things have been going well since I came back, I have been getting plenty of opportunities and riding a few winners as well.

Over the last few seasons I have also ridden a few bumper winners on the track which has been great, two for Timmy and one for Una Corcoran.

On Saturday you rode just your 12th winner between-the-flags around Necarne for Willie Murphy?

It certainly made the trip up worthwhile, that lad Cloudybackwest can be a bit tricky but he has loads of ability, he put it together on Saturday anyhow.

Pa King put me in touch with Willie when he got injured and I have been doing a bit of schooling along with riding a few for him since.

I picked up a nice spare for Colin McKeever in the four-year-olds as well, it’s good to be picking up decent outside rides.  

You are involved with the Gentleman’s League this season as well?

We haven’t been abroad yet, but this weekend I am hoping to go to Auteuil in France to ride over fences, we are just waiting for confirmation. It looks like a great chance to get more experience.

What are your plans for the summer?

We will be tipping away with breakers in Timmy’s and I will be hoping to go to the store sales as well. It's good to get experience with Timmy looking at horses and I would like to get into purchasing a few myself.

I have a Yeats four-year-old at the moment and we are hoping he will be a nice horse for the Autumn.

How about another rider you think might be up and coming?

Evan Dwan and I were in Pat Doyle’s around the same time. He seems to be making a good name for himself. He had a hunter’s chase winner at Tramore the other night and if the right opportunities keep coming for him he could go a long way.

Finally what's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

I think just to keep your head down, keep trying and keep improving.

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