P2P Q&A - Harley Dunne

02 October 2020


You trained your first winner at Monksgrange last Sunday with Paloma Dove (IRE), a mare by Whyemount Stud's Valirann. Tell us more about the win and your training operation.

I got a great buzz out of it, much like riding your first winner. She came out of the race great so she will go to the sales now hopefully. Between pre-trainers, my own horses and a handful I have for other owners there are about 40 in at the moment. There are three lads and myself looking after them. There are a lot of three- and four-year-olds there. It would be hard to pick one now, but if I really had to there is a Kayf Tara mare, Trendy Lady, who goes very well. I hope to run her at the end of October in Dromahane.


Are you going to continue riding?

I love race riding. I still get a great buzz out of it and I get a great kick out of riding a winner, but it has taken a bit of a back seat for the moment. I haven’t really much time for schooling and there are always hungry young fellas willing to drive the length and breadth of the country to school these horses for the rides, so it’s hard for handlers to bypass them when they have put all the hard work in. I can’t do that anymore. There is another young lad in the yard and Tiernan Power comes here and they will get rides for me as well. I’ll keep going for another while anyway.


How did you get into horses?

They have been there from the very start. My mother had a riding school and my Godmother hunts the Bree and Wexford Foxhounds so I was always involved. It has always been hunting, eventing and pony clubbing the whole way. There were never any racehorses in my background, but there were always horses there. I went to Colin Bowe’s for a Saturday job when I was twelve. I stayed there until I was fifteen. I went to Willie Mullins for a year. Then I came back to Colin’s for another two years before taking out my licence.


Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

If you had asked me a year ago would I have 40 horses in training, I would have laughed at you, so I have no idea. I could have 100 horses, or I could have none. I have had a dream start as a point-to-point handler. I couldn’t ask for anymore. I am surrounded by great people that are willing to help me and I have good lads working for me. I have pre-trainers from Colin Bowe and Denis Murphy. They are big supporters and they have been there since I was riding for them. James Doyle and Sean Doyle too. I have had a great start to it so there is no reason why I won’t be training in 10 years’ time and maybe I will take out the track licence, who knows?


Who do you most look up to in the game?

Liam Kenny has been a big part of it for me. I had owned horses with Liam, and I worked there full-time and learned a lot. Without doing those years I wouldn’t be out on my own now. The horses definitely wouldn’t be running as well anyway. I learned an awful lot from him, but I suppose I take bits and pieces from everybody. I spent time with Donnchadh Doyle and Sean Doyle. I was in Donnchadh’s before he ever started training, when he was only doing pre-trainers and still riding out for Colin Bowe so that is a long time ago! I took bits and pieces from everyone along the way and I don’t really look up to any individual.  I think they are all very good at their jobs and they are all people to be respected when you see an entry.


All point-to-point 4yo Maidens in 2020 will be available to view on the ITM YouTube channel. Subscribe here.

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