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02nd Sep 2021

Single-minded Davison in it for the love of the horse

Niall McIntyre

Brought to you by Horse Racing Ireland

6.00 in the morning and Jack Davison is up and at it.

Along with his team at Killarkin Stud in Dunboyne, Davison has around 25 horses to feed, to train, to wash and to guide through the day. It’s taken a whole load of graft to get here, to have these facilities, these horses and this set-up and while you couldn’t call it easy work, Davison wouldn’t rather be at anything else.

At just 34 years of age, Davison is a young man but the fire has burned bright since the beginning and that’s why, having started with just two horses in one field, this is one of the youngest and most up-and-coming trainers in Ireland.

It’s been a run-of-the-mill sort of day on the Meath-Dublin border, a trip to the vets here, an eye on the gallops there but as he picks up the phone at 3.30 in the afternoon, it’s clear that this is a man with a day’s work done. This is the life he signed up for, it’s the life he’s been chasing down for years.

“It didn’t make a whole load of sense for me to go training racehorses,” says Davison, who went to school in Clongowes and once upon a time, was eyeing up a career as a rugby player.

Training may have taken a leap of faith but Davison was always bound for a life surrounded by horses.

“I grew up on a stud farm, where horses were bred, not on a large-scale, not at the high-end by any means, but that was great experience. The family have been breeding horses for 60/70 years. They always owned the odd one too. I remember watching my dad foal mares on the farm at home. I remember going to the sales. Most of all, I remember going racing, going to Leopardstown, seeing the bright colours of the jockeys’ silks. The fast pace of it. The scream of the crowd. I was hooked by then,” says Davison, who saddles his stable star Mooneista on September 12th in the Curragh at Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

“That horse is of such value to me,” says Davison glowingly.

“You need one like her. She’s the type of horse that, if I’ve proven that I can do the job with a good one like her, then I’ll get more horses, more owners and more like her. She could set you up really, so it’s unbelievable for me to have her.

“She’s debatably the best sprinter in Ireland, probably one of the best in Europe, she’s going to run in the Group One race, the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five at 2.20 on Sunday. She’s the real deal and it’s at a weekend like Longines Irish Champions weekend where you want to bring horses like her, to test them against the best, to run for the biggest prizes…”

“It’s a feast of top-class racing, showcasing the best horses, trainers and jockeys. It’s fantastic that the flat season can gear towards this end-competition because Longines Irish Champions weekend, it’s an amazing programme of races, it can’t come soon enough.”

A life-time with horses has led Davison to this weekend, having travelled the globe from Jim Bolger’s yard in Kilkenny all the way to Dubai in his formative years.

“I got a lot of experience throughout college, after college, working on breeding farms and in racing stables and all the rest of it. I followed my heart really and that was how I decided to go training. Being young and naive probably had a fair bit to do with it! It wasn’t by any means a rite of passage for me, it was just more my own ambition that I went with and that was it.

“I knew I was going to work in the horse industry in some capacity, but it was only when I worked with racehorses more that I realised that training and racing was what got me going. I started training two horses out of a field really, I wouldn’t tell you any different. It’s been an unbelievable journey to this point, with 25 horses now, built up through hard work and perseverance. That bit of luck, a few winners along the way helped me turn a few quid and then I put in a gallop which allowed me to try and do it professionally. Not many young people in Ireland are willing to do it, training, but I suppose I saw more of an opportunity going training than breeding.

“It’s not easy. You need a win every now and again to keep your name out there, to keep the profile up. The owners will send their horses to Joseph O’Brien or Dermot Weld or Ger Lyons because they’re the ones who set the standard. For someone like me, you have to pitch yourself as someone who can work as hard as they do, who can do the job as well as them. It’s a big challenge, but that encourages me to work harder, to be better at my job.”

Above everything else, Davison’s love for the animal shines through and that’s why, on the gallops or in the stables, these horses want for nothing at Killarkin Stud.

“The reason that we’ve grown like we have is because ‘happy horses win races.’ I can’t emphasise that enough. If you’re not taking good care of your horses, you won’t get your results. We spend night and day with them. We try and take out every stress out of their lives. Ultimately, they’re not going to perform to their max, if they’re not happy and if they’re not healthy.”

That’s what it’s all about.

Fans are encouraged to tune into the live coverage across the weekend and follow @HRIRacing @LeopardstownRC and @Curraghrace for a brilliant weekend of top-class racing action, behind the scenes access and exciting giveaways during Longines Irish Champions Weekend

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