Donn's Articles » Kevin Brouder

Kevin Brouder

Kevin Brouder had one ride at Leopardstown on the first day of the Dublin Racing Festival, Thosedaysaregone in the Ladbrokes Hurdle, one of the most competitive handicap hurdles on the Irish racing calendar.

They went fast up front early on in this year’s Ladbrokes Hurdle, so the young rider was happy to sit still, towards the rear of the field.  The low sun determined that they by-passed the second last flight, at which point Brouder had just three or four of his 21 rivals behind him, but still he didn’t panic.  He knew that they had gone fast. 

“I was thinking that the leaders couldn’t keep going like that,” recalls the rider.  “I thought that they had to come back.  I was sure that they had gone for home too early.”

It takes a calm head to bide your time when most of your rivals are kicking for home.  It takes confidence to go against the crowd.  Trust your own judgement.

He angled his horse towards the outside as they raced around the home turn in order to ensure a clear path up the home straight.  He was checked a little as Eglantine Du Seuil moved across him on the run to the final flight, but it didn’t really matter.  He had plenty of time and plenty of horse.

Once in the clear, he asked his horse to pick up, and Thosedaysaregone responded.  He moved up on the outside, jumped the final flight in a share of fifth place, and stayed on strongly down the stands side to get up and win by a length.

“It was great to win a big race like that, the Ladbrokes Hurdle at Leopardstown on a Saturday, during the Dublin Racing Festival.  And it was some training performance by Charles Byrnes.  He had the horse in great form.  That’s three Ladbrokes Hurdles in a row now that Charles has won.”

Brouder had four rides back at Leopardstown the following day, the second day of the Dublin Racing Festival, so he stayed in Dublin.  The celebrations could wait.  He was doing light on Sunday, Our Roxane had 9st 10lb in the Paddy Mullins Mares Handicap Hurdle, and Brouder could claim 3lb off her.  That’s 9st 7lb with your boots and your silks and your saddle. 

“There were no weighing scales where I was staying, so I didn’t know exactly what weight I was.  There was no real healthy food either, I had a pizza for dinner, so I thought that I might have to take off a good few pounds on Sunday morning.  Terence O’Brien said that he didn’t mind me putting up 1lb or 2lb overweight, but you never want to do that.  When I got to Leopardstown the following day, I only had 2lb to lose in the sauna, so it was no bother.”

Our Roxane ran a big race too.  Prominent from early, she led at the final flight and only just got run down by Black Tears on the run-in. 

Treacysenniscorthy ran even better though an hour and a half later in the William Fry Handicap Hurdle.  Horse and rider set off in front, and they didn’t see a rival until over six minutes and three miles later, when they were pulling up after crossing the winning line.

“He doesn’t have to lead, you can ride him any way, so I just popped him out handy and I was happy to lead if nothing else was going to lead.  He’s a lovely horse, he has won his last four, and Robert (Widger) has done some job with him.  He’s not going to Cheltenham, there are a few valuable races here for him.  And he’s a fine big horse, he could be even better when he goes back over fences.”

Two winners from five rides at the Dublin Racing Festival, and all he wants to do is talk about is Articulum.

“Articulum was travelling so well in the Leopardstown Chase.  I was kicking myself that we came down.  He had to have gone close to winning.” 

The rider was injured in the fall, a displaced shoulder, but it wasn’t dislocated.  He shrugs it off, he’s suspended anyway so the timing isn’t bad.  He should be back ready to go again next Saturday, no problem.

“They just numbed my shoulder and popped it back in.”

It’s a jockey’s mentality.  It’s not the physical pain, it’s the pain that goes with being out, missing rides, missing winners. 

Donkeys.  Kevin Brouder started out riding donkeys.  They had donkeys at home in Listowel when young Kevin was growing up, and that’s where his riding career began: he and his brother Gearoid competing against each other on the donkeys.

“You learned lots.  The donkeys had good straight backs, you’d go out over their heads no problem if you weren’t paying attention.”

He went pony racing for three years, and he spent time with Christy Roche and James Nash and Tom Cooper and Charles Byrnes. 

“All I wanted to do was ride.  I’d say I gave my mother an awful time.  I left school for a little while, but I had to go back.  And I used to climb out the window.  My mother would think I was in my room, but I’d have been out the window and the lads would pick me up and bring me down to Tom Cooper’s.” 

He went to Britain for a little while, he went to Jonjo O’Neill’s and he got opportunities. 

“I liked it in England, Jonjo was very good to me, he gave me plenty of chances, but I got injured and decided to come home.” 

He got going when he got back home.  He rode Masons Daughter for Philip O’Connor to win a mares’ bumper at Listowel in September 2017, and he kicked on.  He formed good relationships with Charles Byrnes and Terence O’Brien and others. 

“I tend to split my time between Charles and Terence and Barry Connell and Tom Mullins.  They’re very good to me, and I’m very lucky that I have good relationships with other trainers too.”

There are still injuries, of course.  It’s part of the profession.  Shoulders and legs and wrists.  He has broken his wrist three times.  And he has just lost his 3lb claim in Ireland.  He can still claim 3lb in Britain, and that could be a significant asset there with the Cheltenham Festival in mind, but, from now on, he will be competing on a level playing field with the top riders in Ireland.

He is up to it though.  He has the talent and he has the confidence and he has the people behind him.  Forty winners on the board this season so far, second behind Darragh O’Keeffe in the conditional riders’ championship and joint fifth in the overall championship.  Biding his time. 

© The Sunday Times, 16th February 2020