Getting to know you: Limerick Jockey Chris Hayes

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Getting to know you: Limerick Jockey Chris Hayes

NAME: Chris Hayes

What was your childhood ambition? I wanted to be a Solicitor oddly enough but as soon as I saw pony racing that changed.

Growing up, who was your sporting hero? I loved Mick Kinane and I’m still in awe of him now

Do you have a mentor? Pat Smullen and Mick Kinane are always there with advice when I need it

What or where is your happy place? Driving my tractor around my small farm.

What sparked your love of racing? My dad bringing me to my first pony race. I loved watching them fly around and thankfully my dad bought me a pony soon after.

What horse put you on the map? I’ve been lucky enough to ride some nice horses all through my career, but Crystal View gave me a great leg up as a 10 lb claimer.

Who is your favourite horse? Awtaad – we won the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh together in 2016

What was it like to ride in your first race? Wasn’t too exciting I got left in the starting stalls and finished a furlong last. My second ride was a winner and that was just ecstasy

How long does it take to learn race-riding tactics? Pony racing helped me a lot and I’d like to think I’m tactically very aware

Describe the feeling of riding your first winner? My first winner was my second ride and I pushed it most of the way. I looked so untidy, but I would not change a thing about it. It was unbelievable to walk back into that winner’s enclosure

What is your most memorable racing moment? Winning the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas on Awtaad. The reception we got that day was the stuff of dreams

What is your favourite racecourse in Ireland? I’m torn between Limerick or Listowel - I always ride winners there

If you weren’t a jockey what would you be? A politician

If you could ride one horse, what would it be? Enable. She’s different class

How do you cope with pressure? I like to go through the form in detail and the bigger the race the busier I keep myself on the big day

What mental preparation do you do for the big days? I like to ride out the morning of a big race and keep my routine normal. I get to the races early and once I’m in the weigh room I’m fairly relaxed from then on

How do you stay motivated? Trying to find the next Awtaad keeps me motivated... he was a special horse and that’s why we do this job to try find special horses

How do you deal with dips in form? Dips in form are always going to happen the main thing to remember is your only as good as the horses you’re riding

Outside of racing, what is your favourite sporting moment? Limerick winning the All-Ireland

Can you give us a Netflix/film recommendation? Peaky Blinders - I love it

What is your guilty pleasure? I’ve a very sweet tooth so chocolate or sweets

Desert island discs – name your favourite three songs? Anything country. I love country music

What person do you admire the most and why? I admire Pat Smullen he was a hero of mine on the track and in his cancer battle, you’d have to be in awe of the man.

Favourite dinner? Steak mash and veg

What ambitions do you still have? I’d love to be champion jockey. It’s very hard in Ireland but I’ll keep chipping away

What is the hidden gem of your home county? It has to be the St. Senan’s community where I grew up. It’s a beautiful part of the world

When you think of your home what immediately springs to mind? I think of my parents. I moved away from home at 15 so I often miss home

How are you occupying your time during the Covid-19 restrictions? I have a couple of broodmares so there keeping me busy

If you had one piece of advice for everyone during these worrying times of Covid-19, what would it be? Stay at home. If we listen to the expert’s advice and do as we’re told we all be back to our normal lives a lot quicker

If you were to go back to when you were 20 years old and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? I’d tell myself to enjoy the good days more. I’m my own biggest critic and I wish I enjoyed some of the winners and appreciate them a bit more than I did

Favourite saying/quote? What’s for you won’t go by you