Neil Durkan has been involved in the construction industry for many years having started working with his father shortly after leaving school before heading off to New York and later London, returning to Ireland in 1994. Since this date Neil has been developing and building new homes in the greater Dublin area. Neil has had a long association with horses. His father Bill has held a trainer’s licence for over forty years and still trains privately. Neil is no stranger to the racetrack and rode as an amateur for several years riding for the family. Neil acts as assistant to his father with the training.
Craig Kileff Born in Malawi a mere 50 odd years ago, Craig always had a love for horses. He worked for one of the leading trainers in Zimbabwe, the late Ginger Halfpenny and later worked as an assistant trainer for Paul Matchett. Craig ran the family farm and during that time had a winning horse owned by a family syndicate, however during the land invasions, orchestrated by Robert Mugabe, his family we were left with no option but to relocate to Northern Ireland. Craig has worked for Bluegrass horse feed in Co. Tyrone for the last 15 years. He is currently riding out at Caroline McCaldins and Crawford Bros racing.
Darren Harrison hails from Monasterevin in Co. Kildare and grew up riding hunting ponies before moving onto race horses. Darren became an apprentice after graduating from R.A.C.E but unfortunately had no luck on the track. He is currently back where it all began in Peter Fahey’s in the mornings and also at Ian McCarthy’s in the evenings. “Injury in any sport can be devastating and if raising money to help them get through injury it’s the least I can do. This summer we get to do what they love doing and see it from their perspective which is very exciting.”
Dean Ryan is a Mental Skills and Strength & Conditioning Coach. Originally from Newbridge, he has been involved in racing since the age of 14 and has worked in many parts of the world including the UK, USA and Australia. “It has been through these experiences that I have seen first-hand the commitment and dedication that jockeys show on a daily basis. The physical and mental strength these amazing athletes possess is unmatched in any sport. Physical injury and psychological stress is something these athletes are sure to face throughout their career and I want to help by raising much needed funds for the Irish Injured Jockeys.”
Jane Davis Originally from Dublin, Jane spent the summer riding out for Dermot Weld on the Curragh when she was 16. This was her first introduction to racehorses and over the years she has have continued to ride out as a hobby. Jane was the manager at Tipperary Racecourse for two years before returning to HRI as Racecourse Marketing Support Manager. Jane has worked for Connolly’s RED MILLS for the last five years as Head of Equine marketing and it’s a role she loves. She has competed in the Racehorse to Riding Horses classes over the years and has also retrained a few young thoroughbreds and sold them into eventing homes.
Peter O’Reilly is married to Tish with two kids, Frankie and Martie. He set up and runs Low.ie , a leading Irish online portal for life and mortgage protection insurance. Hailing from the thoroughbred county, he has been involved with horses all his life from hunting and racing through to breeding. He rode a bit as an amateur in the ‘80’s and 90’s and then did a couple of charity races including Cheltenham in 2011, the same year a horse he bred, Bensalem, won at the festival. Peter previously raised funds for Irish Injured Jockeys in 2015 which involved riding a lap of every Irish racetrack in 24 hours.
Joan Tyner Originally from Cork, Joan is following in the footsteps of her mum Mary, who took part in 2019 in memory of Joan’s brother Jack. Joan grew up in a busy racing family and always admired her parents for their hard work and dedication to racing. She is currently working in Goffs as a Bloodstock Executive. Joan rides out for Ross O’ Sullivan in the mornings before work and rides out at home at the weekends.
Laura Bennett comes from a racing background and is experienced around all equine disciplines. She has ridden horses from a very young age and has competed in all areas including the RDS Dublin Horse Show with great success. Laura is currently working in the Irish National Stud where she cares for the mares and foals. She is also a qualified riding instructor.
Emer Lawlor from Dunboyne, Co. Meath is the very first member of An Garda Síochána to ride in The Corinthian Challenge. Emer has ridden and competed in a variety of disciplines over the years but horse racing was one discipline she never really got to explore. She did however, contribute her skills and knowledge to retraining racehorses when they retired from racing. Emer says that she has been lucky enough to be a “ride judge” for a number “ex-racehorse to riding horse” classes in the showing world. She now takes on the Corinthian Challenge with the help of trainer Tony Martin and his owners whom she is extremely to.
Stan Begley graduated from Agricultural Science in UCD in 2016 and completed The Irish National Stud breeding and management course in 2017. Since than he spent time working at Arrowfield stud in Australia and Coolmore America. He then returned home to The Irish National Stud in Kildare where he is the Breeding Management Assistant. Although having always worked on the breeding side of the industry Stan was very keen to get involved in the racing side of it and this has given him the opportunity to do so.
Michelle O’Brien from Cork grew up around horses. She has ridden from an early age on ponies, going to point to points and riding out the family owned racehorses. Michelle is a Mum to 11 year old Cathal and a project engineer in the pharmaceutical industry but manages to ride out two mornings a week at Terence O’Brien’s. As an avid racegoer, point to points and the track, she loves the excitement of race day and the anticipation of how things will work out. Michelle is passionate about horse welfare and is a former Director of the Irish Horse Welfare Trust.
Marie Valet Our French Corinthian, Marie, has been living in Ireland for the past 6 years. She attained a master in law before deciding to follow her passion and work with animals. She is an animal physiotherapist and osteopath and has her own yard in Galway. She has been riding horses from a young age and show jumped in France. Marie’s generous clients give her the opportunity to ride out most mornings and she is hoping all her hard work will pay off on the day.
Fiona Dowling Flying the flag for Kerry, Fiona started her career in the thoroughbred industry after finishing school and graduated from the Irish National Stud course in 2007. She started working for Gordon Elliott and led up Silver Birch to win the 2007 Aintree Grand National. During her time with Gordon, she rode two point-to-point winners. Since then, she has have worked in the thoroughbred industry in the UK, USA, Australia, and New Zealand. Over the past five years, she moved into the educational sector and earlier this year Fiona moved back to Ireland and joined the fantastic team at RACE in Co. Kildare and is really enjoying being back!
Laura Burnett is originally from England but has been living in Dublin for the past 4 years working as a Development Manager in the real estate industry. Laura has ridden since she was a child going through the Pony Club, along with eventing and hunting. Laura started riding out for Ross O’Sullivan at the beginning of lockdown and things have now seemingly escalated to the point where she thinks taking part in the Corinthian Challenge is a good idea. “I think everyone in racing knows the excellent work done by the IIJ and to be able to contribute to this whilst also getting to enjoy the challenge of taking to part in the series is fantastic”.