Connor King wasn’t born in the saddle, but you could be forgiven for thinking that he was. The impact he has made in his first season riding has marked him out as one of the hottest properties in Irish flat racing. He must be so grateful that the Galway Festival this week falls in the school holidays.
At the age of 16 he still has a year left in school, but is already expected to win this season’s apprentice championship and progress rapidly up the ranks of professional jockeys once he completes his education. His family are not racing folk, and there were plenty of other options open to him. At school he said, “I like all the hands on things like metalwork and woodwork and love spending time in the workshop making things.”
Hi mum and dad played a key role in pointing him in the sport’s direction. He said, “My parents were kind enough to buy me a pony. Once I started riding him and in turn racing him, I was bitten by the racing bug.”
He applied to the Turf Club for a licence last September, and immediately made his mark as he gained a winner on his first ride, on Michael Tabor’s Precious Stone from David Wachman’s stable. With a late start to the season, opportunities were few, and he had only a further nine rides. He did enough in those to demonstrate his considerable natural ability, and this year he’s been in high demand with 20 wins from his 183 mounts. He’s regularly in demand, and has ridden for 60 different trainers this season.
This week he rides at his first Galway Festival, and with rides today for David Marnane (Rock On Coco) and Dermot Weld (Pay Day Kitten) will be hoping to get on the board at his biggest meeting to date. If he doesn’t, of course he’ll be disappointed, but he also recognises that there’s a huge amount for him to learn just be being there.
He said, “I’ll try to get a winner, and it would be great if things kept going as they are now. The main thing is to get as much experience as I can, not just on different types of horses but also at all the different tracks.” If he does add to his total of winners, people will have plenty more to say about this hard working, bright and enthusiastic young man.