Limerick's Gleeson family win big at Punchestown

Colm Kinsella

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Colm Kinsella

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ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

Limerick's Gleeson family win big at Punchestown

Jockey Billy Gleeson with the cup after winning The Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Steeplechase for the Ladies Perpetual Cup on Just Wait And See at Punchestown

A LIMERICK father and son team enjoyed big race success at the Punchestown Festival when Just Wait And See gamely held off Blue Templar to win the spectacular Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Chase for the Ladies Perpetual Cup.

Just Wait and See is trained and owned by Knocklong-based John Gleeson, while his 23-year-old son Billy rode the winner, just his second success on the track.

The 16-1 winner scored a dramatic head success over the JP McManus' owned favourite Blue Templar with the winning trainer afterwards proclaiming it to be 'the biggest buzz I’ve ever had in my life.'

For good measure, Just Wait and See was bred by another Limerickman, Andrew Connolly.

Winning jockey Billy Gleeson works for champion trainer Willie Mullins and rode his first 'track' winner for him when scoring on Castlebawn West in a Clonmel bumper in late March.

Billy Gleeson said: "We thought Just Wait and See would run well at Punchestown, but winning the race was something we couldn't really see happening.

"The race went to plan. I used to work for Enda (Bolger) and to be facing one of his runners with Derek O'Connor on his back - not too many to beat him in a finish.

"We own the horse. Andy Connolly bred him, he's from Ballylanders, a lovely man.

"I never shook so many hands or got so many slaps on the back in all my life afterwards in the winners enclosure.

"My first winner on the track was only four weeks ago for Willie Mullins, Castlebawn West in a bumper, in Clonmel. I never, never experienced anything like it, After I passed the line, the feeling I had was just something else.

"We've had Just Wait and See since he was four and he's a clever jumper. I was delighted for my father given all the hard work he puts in.

"It was my second winner on the track. It was amazing. The race is held in memorial for PP Hogan, a legendary Limerick-based trainer who my dad and Enda Bolger rode for.

"You could ride 10 point-to-point winners and very few would notice, but you ride one winner on the track, you have so many pairs of eyes watching you. It is different.

"You get noticed more. It is all about a bit of luck and when you're chance comes being able to take it. Things fall into place very quickly.

"Just Wait and See ran very well in a few handicap chases there last summer and I think he will win one this year, he was just unfortunate last year."

Just over two years ago, Billy Gleeson spent time working with horses in Dubai as he contemplated whether he wanted to be a jockey.

"Before I ever went to Willie Mullins' yard, I went to Dubai and instead of trying to make it as a jockey here in Ireland, I took a break from it to see what I wanted to do. I went working in Dubai for John Hyde who pre-trains yearlings.

"That was just over two years ago. When I went over there, it was great, but I missed racing. It was kinda annoying me that I didn't stick at it in Ireland, try harder.

"When I came back home that was the first thing I wanted to do. I said I would go down to Willie Mullins. It wasn't even looking for rides, it was just the way it happened that I got a few chances.

"I am working full-time now with Willie Mullins. It is unreal working there. You have the likes of Rugby (Walsh), Paul Townend, they are top class lads, the best in the business.

"I start at 6.30am. We ride four lots and each lot would be around an hour and a half.

"If I am not riding I am at home working. You keep your head down and work hard. It's very enjoyable."