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Monday, 17 December, 2018

'Peter Casey was not the man to be ringing when you were in a rush'

Racing Post reporter David Jennings recalls a unique character

Peter Casey with his popular chaser Flemenstar
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My maiden conversation with Peter Casey came via a phone call on November 25, 2012. It was a Friday, two days before the Troytown Chase, and it was to get a quick quote for Jack The Bus to include in the paper preview for the race. 

The deadline was 4pm and it was 3.57pm. Mr Casey was not the man to be ringing when you were in a rush. 

Around 27 minutes later, he knew my mother's maiden name, where I went to primary school and what my grandfather did for a living. We discussed politics, third-world problems and how much I was getting paid for writing the article. We never got to Jack The Bus. 

After that conversation nothing surprised me about Casey, not even his spontaneous slip of the tongue with Tracy Piggott live on RTE after Flemenstar had won the Irish Arkle at Leopardstown. It was the trainer's first Grade 1. 

For those couple of seconds, the public got a glimpse of Casey the comedian. More than half a million of them. Watching an almost 80-year-old man talking about his sex life was something we never thought we would see. 

We never thought we would see a small, country trainer win three Grade 1s in a season either. At a time when Gigginstown, JP McManus and Rich Ricci were mopping up everything in Ireland, Peter Casey was something different. It was a rare tale of the underdog in Ireland.

Wherever he went, Casey continued to put smiles on faces. It is such a pity Flemenstar did not stay far enough to have a go in the Cheltenham Gold Cup as the Cotswolds crowd would have adored him. 

Flemenstar did not finish his career with Casey but he was the man who propelled him to superstar status in Ireland for a few years. 

There are not enough colours to describe Casey's character. He was unique in every possible way and it is hard to imagine not seeing that smile of his again.

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For those couple of seconds, the public got a glimpse of Casey the comedian
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