The combination of no racing and the lockdown has given many of us a taste/reminder of the precious commodity that is time! What better way to use it than to get in touch with some of our former staff, to see what they have been up to since leaving Pant Wilkin. The first of our ‘where are they now’ interviews is with Limerick native Jason Kiely.
Jason joined us back in 2011 and Pant Wilkin became his home for the next six years, during which he established himself as an excellent work rider and member of the travelling team. We had a catch up to see how he has been getting on in the three years since flying the nest!
When did you join us at Pant Wilkin?
I came over from Ireland in January 2011, in the hope of taking out my licence. I didn’t have to wait too long for my first ride in the UK (Duneen Point at Fontwell Park in April 2011, the same day Saint Are won the Sefton at Aintree!), but a little longer for my first winner, which was Got The Urge at Hereford the following May.
Who was your favourite horse?
I did a lot of work on Be Bop Boru at home – he wasn’t the most straightforward, so it was very rewarding to see him develop into a useful hurdler and he went very close at Cheltenham one day. Hawkhill shares the accolade, as I not only won on him, but was also on board at Cheltenham’s December meeting and in the Listed handicap at Market Rasen too. He was such a tough horse and a real star for us.
What (if anything!) did you learn at Pant Wilkin?
It might surprise you, but I learned plenty! If I were to take just one thing away from my six years in Wales, it would be the self-confidence that was instilled in me. Tim always has a positive mindset and I think that rubbed off on all the staff. It certainly helped me in taking the next steps in my career.
When did you leave?
I had always been interested in exploring a career in the media and when the RMG and JETS announced a media internship for jockeys, I jumped at the chance. Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones to get picked, so after six enjoyable years in Wales, it was time to pack my bags!
What have you done since?
I had worked a couple of summers at Guillaume Macaire’s in 2015 and 2016 and during that time, I had developed a keen interest in French racing. That served me well during my internship, as Racing UK, who were broadcasting French racing at the time, invited me on as a pundit on a few occasions.
I then moved over to France in early 2018 and have been based in Chantilly ever since. Alongside my media work (I write for sportinglife.com and have also done some work for Jour Du Galop in France), I ride out most mornings for one of the leading trainers in France, David Cottin.
A leading National Hunt jockey for many years, David trained his first Cheltenham Festival winner in the Cross Country last month. Leading Easysland back into the winners’ enclosure afterwards was an incredible experience and I hope to be there again with him next year!