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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Padraig Roche excited about taking over training licence from father Christy

Christy Roche: Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer has retired
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Three-time Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer Christy Roche has retired from racing at the age of 68 and has handed his training licence over to son, Padraig, who turns 32 next week. 

The new man at the helm of the Roche operation in Coolaghknock Glebe is excited about the challenge ahead and hopes to saddle his first runners in late February or early March. 

"It's something I've always wanted to do and fair play to the owners for letting me take over Dad's horses. I have about ten or 11 in training at the moment and that will be up to 15 over the next few months," said Ireland's newest trainer. 

He added: "I thought I might have runners next weekend, but a lot of the horses have had winter breaks and I might give them more time.

"I understand how tough it is for small trainers in Ireland, but I'm looking forward to having a crack at it and trying to get some new owners and new horses into the yard."

Padraig Roche: hopes to have his first runners in late February or early March

Roche was a successful amateur jockey and rode 45 winners in Ireland during his riding career between 2002 and 2017.

"I've always been around horses and the aim was always to get into training. Dad was spoiled with some brilliant horses. Like-A-Butterfly was my baby and I used to ride her out every morning before heading to school. She got me hooked on racing. I'll tell you one thing, I wouldn't mind having one like her to get me going!"

Christy Roche's long and distinguished career in racing will probably be remembered most for his thrilling short-head success on board Secreto in the 1984 Derby at Epsom, edging out the mighty El Gran Senor after an epic battle up the home straight.

He was one of the greatest Flat jockeys of his generation, winning the Irish Derby three times, the Irish 2,000 Guineas on four occasions and the Irish 1,000 Guineas three times. His Irish Derby victory on Desert King gave Aidan O'Brien his first of 12 successes in the race.

Roche retired from race-riding in August 1998 and by that stage he had already established himself as one of Ireland's leading jumps trainers. He trained his first winner at Fairyhouse in December 1996 courtesy of Ask The Butler.

Roche's first success at Cheltenham was in 1999 when he sent out Khayrawani to win the Coral Cup under Fran Berry.

Like-A-Butterfly was the Irish banker at the 2002 festival and duly justified 7-4 favouritism in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle under Charlie Swan, while Youlneverwalkalone landed the 2003 William Hill Handicap Chase in 2003. All three were owned by JP McManus. 

Like-A-Butterfly won 12 of her 17 starts, including five Grade 1s, but perhaps Roche will be remembered most in the training ranks for his work with the ultra-versatile Grimes, who won the Galway Plate in 2001 having won the Grade 1 juvenile hurdle at the Punchestown festival in 1997.

Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Like-A-Butterfly was the festival's Irish banker in 2002

Roche also trained the hugely-talented Joe Mac, who was second to Hors La Loi in the 1999 Supreme Novices' but suffered a fatal injury the following month at Punchestown. 

Roche sent out 25 winners in Ireland during the 1999-2000 season and did not dip below the 20-winner mark until 2008-09. He has only had eight winners over the last two seasons, however.

Roche's final runner was Neddyvaughan, who finished seventh in a 2m handicap chase at Punchestown on New Year's Eve. He had 43 winners from 468 runners in the last five seasons and his last winner was Out Of The Loop in a 2m4f handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse December 2. 

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It's something I've always wanted to do and fair play to the owners for letting me take over Dad's horses
E.W. Terms
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