Schoolboy enjoys runaway race success, while his 12 rivals face the wrath of the stewards

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  • Seventeen-year-old schoolboy Kevin Healy ensured his first winner under Rules would be a day he would never forget when cruising to a 15-length victory on Wrecking Ball Paul over two miles at Dundalk racecourse for trainer Paul Mulligan.

    The Pony Club eventer and showjumper, who competed in the working hunter at Dublin Horse Show last year, showed some enterprising ingenuity, taking the race by the scruff of the neck and stealing a considerable lead on his 13 rivals – one of whom refused to race. Kevin and the brilliantly named gelding, an 18/1 shot, cruised home unchallenged to win the amateur handicap on Friday evening (1 March).

    Watch the race on Racing TV

    Kevin Healy’s 12 rivals, who had clearly left themselves too much to do to try to catch the winner, faced the wrath of the stewards, earning a swathe of five-day suspensions. But the rising star of the weighing room described the facile way to get off the mark in just his third run under Rules as “brilliant”.

    “I knew he’d go close but I wasn’t expecting that,” the teenager, who won the junior Irish Pony Club hunter trial championships in 2022 on Kilbunny Kabana, told H&H. “Paul didn’t give me any instructions – he just said never have him going flat out, and don’t fight with him too much.

    “But at the five-furlong point I looked round and I saw I had a big gap and at that point I knew I had the race won because I had loads of horse left under me – he just loves to keep on galloping. So that was a great way to get my first winner, it’s definitely one to remember!”

    Kevin Healy: “It was a good way to do it!”

    Trainer Paul Mulligan is friends with the jockey’s father and Kevin was delighted to get the call-up on the six-year-old Wrecking Ball Paul, a winner at the track last month over a mile shorter race.

    “There’s been a brilliant reaction from our family and friends,” said Kevin, who will be finishing school this summer. “The plan then is to try to make a living out of race riding, I’d love to make it work.”

    “I grew up around horses from both sides of the family,” he said. “My granddad on my mum’s side taught me how to ride, then my grandad on my dad’s side always had racehorses. I got my first pony when I was three and did a lot of hunting and Pony Club, then a lot of eventing and showjumping too. I went to Dublin this year to do the working hunter.

    “It was a great grounding, it really stood for me now,” he added. “Hopefully I’ll have a few rides coming up soon. I’m getting my point-to-point licence, doing the course this Wednesday, but I’ll stick out school first.

    “It was a good way to do it!”

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