Next Generation | Rider
Name: Damien Loughnane
Area: Shinrone, Co. Offaly
Damien Loughnane is the latest rider to feature in our Next Generation feature following his first career success between the flags at Borris House on Sunday.
The 19-year-old made his point-to-point debut at Ballinaboola in February aboard Added Time and was seen getting off the mark here on his fifth attempt, with the victory being all the more special, as his father Ray, enjoyed his first success as a handler.
The Offaly Native has an early start every morning at his father Ray’s yard and afterwards he goes onto to ride out for Charlie Keegan.
The Shinrone-based rider is looking to gain more experience over the rest of the season and Loughnane could certainly be a name to watch out for in the future.
Are you from a racing background?
I was always around horses as a young lad, my father Ray was an amateur for Pat Hughes and when he finished up riding, he became a farrier but always kept an interest and would have kept a few point-to-pointers at home.
How did you get started in Racing?
I learnt how to ride on racehorses, I had no other option unfortunately we didn’t have any ponies at home, so I got thrown in at the deep end. I wanted to gain some experience, so I got involved in pony racing and that’s how I got started.
Where are you based at the moment?
We have started getting busy at home in recent times, so myself and my brother Brian, who also holds an amateur licence ride out for our father in the mornings, we start at 05:00 and finish up at 07:00.
I then head off to Charlie Keegan’s yard, he is based in Templemore and I ride out for him until lunchtime.
I come back to our yard then in the afternoons and finish off our horses, we have a few pre-trainers and point-to-pointers, we work out of Shane Broderick’s yard, he’s been very good to us, he’s very knowledgeable and a great asset to our business.
Have you ridden out for anyone else to date?
I rode out at Liam Cusack’s, who is based in Mountrath, Co. Laois for two years, he was a big help to me when I was getting started and I gained huge experience when riding out for him.
Liam trains a horse that my father bred and owns, Snugsborough Benny, who was placed third in the Galway Plate and finished fourth in the Irish National.
What is your earliest racing memory?
My earliest racing memory would be Snugsborough Benny winning his point-to-point.
You were delighted with your win on Sunday?
I was over the moon, I was lucky my father gave me the ride over my brother Brain, I had to work a bit on him to put me up but thankfully it paid off as I came home in front.
I couldn’t believe when I won, its been a dream of mine for a while to ride a winner in a point-to-point.
I’ve ridden Added Time a handful of times in point-to-points and he’s an absolute gem, we got him from Denis Hogan as a five-year-old.
He was a horse that just took time, when we got him, he was a big raw horse and he wasn’t filled out, my father always said that he wouldn’t come into himself until he was a six-year-old and he was right. We always thought he was a nice horse, so it’s great that he proved himself on Sunday.
What’s the plan with Added Time now?
My father has been happy with the way he has been working at home, so the plan is now to run him in a winner-of-one race or there is a possibility that we could run him on the track in a maiden hurdle, he likes good ground and prefers to go left handed so we will see if we can get a race to suit him.
Have you ambitions for this season?
After my win on Sunday, I want build on that and try an get my name out there. When the mornings start getting a bit brighter, I will try and go to a few different yards and hopefully ride a couple of winners.
What is your favourite track to ride at?
I have to say Borris House after the win on Sunday, but another track that I like to ride around is Lisronagh, it is a lucky track for my family, Snugsborough Benny won there for us.
How about another rider you think might be up-and-coming?
Troy Walsh, I started off in RACE with him and he rides out for Aidan Fitzgerald now, he’s out with his shoulder at the moment but when he gets the ball rolling, he will be one to watch out for.
Who has been your greatest influence in racing?
My father and everyone in my family, it’s a family run business at home and they all have been a big influence in my riding career.
Another big influence for me would have to be Liam Cusack, he taught me a good bit when I was riding out for him and Emma Brophy, who works for Liam, would also have been great to me.
Do you play any sport outside of racing?
I try to play a bit of hurling in the summer but during the winter I’m too busy with the horses.
I struggle with my weight, so I go to personal training with a guy called Luke Fitzgerald, once a week and he’s really helped me get my weight under control and then I head to the gym myself five times a week.
How do you relax away from racing?
I don’t really relax, if I’m not working then I am watching racing on the TV. The odd time I like to get away for a weekend but other than that its racing fulltime.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
I remember watching an interview Joey Sheridan did on Off The Ball before and it’s always stuck with me, the piece of advise was that young jockey’s are known for going too early in a race, so when you are thinking of going, hold on an extra ten strides and then go.