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  • Writer's pictureJo O'Neill

An Interview with Champion Conditional Kevin Brogan

Updated: May 25, 2022

In winning the Conditional Jockey’s Championship, Kevin Brogan, 22, has followed in the footsteps of Sir AP McCoy, Harry Cobden and his housemate Jonjo Junior O’Neill. His second cousin is Brendan Sheriden, a former jockey, who is now Clerk of the Course at eight Irish racecourses but it wasn’t a career Kev always strived for throughout childhood. He admits to somewhat ‘falling into racing’.

Kev winning on Brelan D'As at Newcastle for Ben Haslam

At 16, Kev attended the RACE academy and grafted for ten months. He was awarded Trainee Jockey of the Year. Having initially learnt from Ted Walsh, Kev worked for Gordon Elliot, during which time Tiger Roll won both his Grand Nationals. Whilst at Gordon’s, he sat on the Aintree legend as well as Envoi Allen and Apple’s Jade, and rode his first winner for the yard on Askari at Navan in December 2018.

Yet, a career over the water beckoned and after a frustratingly slow start, Kev rode his first winner for his new boss Jonjo O’Neill on Tegerek at Cheltenham in October 2020. He won last year’s Hands and Heels Series and has continued riding lots of winners. That was less than two years ago and he rode out his claim in May this season. Kev was proud to ride several winners in the famous green and gold colours of Champion Owner JP McManus, including on Unowhatimeanharry in a Pertemps Qualifier at Aintree in October 2020 and the biggest win of his career so far, on Phoenix Way at Ascot in January this year. There’s no doubt that there are bigger winners around the corner.

Originally From Kill, County Kildare, Kev now lives in Andoversford near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. His long-time girlfriend Eliece Elliot is the niece of her boss Gordon. She looks after Sire Du Berlais, who’s won at the Cheltenham Festival and the Liverpool Hurdle at this year’s Aintree.

Did you have a horsey childhood?

I didn’t start until I was 11. My uncle built some stables and rented them out to a lady called April. We went up to see them one evening and she very kindly asked if I would be interested in getting some riding lessons off her.

How did you get into racing?

April told me that her brother went to RACE to learn how to be a jockey. So, since I was about 12 or 13, I always wanted to go to RACE and that's where it properly started. The summer leading up to the RACE trials, I started riding out for my local trainer Ted Walsh. He was very good to me and was a great help on the build-up.

What roles have you had in racing?

After joining RACE, I was always just a stable lad. I still look at myself that way, even though I’m a wannabe jockey! In racing, I have always done nearly every job you can think of. From mucking out, riding out, going racing, strimming, painting and even swimming horses.

Which is your favourite racecourse in Ireland?

Probably Navan because I rode my first and only winner there. It's such a big and fair track ride on, and very straight forward.

Which is your favourite racecourse in UK?

Newcastle, even though it's ages away, I always seem to have good luck there.

Which is your least favourite racecourse in the UK?

Sedgefield, for every single reason you can think of!

Kev winning on Tegerek at Cheltenham

Photo Credit:Equine Creative Media 2020 (Debbie Burt)

Which race would you most like to win as a jockey?

That's a tough one! But probably the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

What’s the best advice you were given?

Don't panic. Keep working hard and surround yourself with the best possible people.

How do you feel about winning the Conditional Jockey championship?

It hasn't sunk in yet. I can't help but feeling that someone is pulling my leg because I would never have thought that someone like me could achieve something like that.

What is your best day’s racing so far?

It's definitely riding my first winner here in the UK for Jonjo. I’d had a fair few rides before I rode my first winner. They’d been running well but, unfortunately, not winning. I felt like there was a massive weight lifted off my shoulders after Tegerek won at Cheltenham.

First Ever Winner

If you weren’t a jockey, what would you be?

F******… ha ha ha. I don't know to be honest. I’d say, I would definitely be still at home annoying my mam.

Where would you like to be in ten years’ time?

Hopefully I'll still be riding anyway, still trying to improve as much as I can day by day and hope, fingers crossed, to be well established as one of the top jockeys between the UK and Ireland.

Favourite meal: McDonald’s.

Favourite drink: A cold coke or Heineken.

Favourite snack: Anything sweet but I'm not too fussy.

Favourite holiday destination: Dubai.

Favourite film: Top Boy on Netflix.

Favourite music: Ed Sheeran.

Other hobbies: I like playing pool.

Kev, Tiger Roll and Eliece at Aintree in 2022

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