Niall Houlihan crowned January Jockey Of The Month

Features | 6th February 2023

The 22-year-old impressed our expert judge, four-times Champion Jockey Richard Johnson, in winning the Clarence House Chase on Editeur Du Gite. The Cheltenham success was the biggest win of Niall’s career.

Brighton based Niall Houlihan gave Editeur Du Gite, trained by his boss Gary Moore, a superb front-running ride and galvanised the nine-year-old for a final effort after being headed by last year’s Arkle Trophy winner Edwardstone on the run-in.

Niall has donated his winning prize of £500 to Cancer Research.

Conditional Shows the Pros how it’s done

Niall said: “These races are where you want to be so to win a Grade 1 having won a Grade 2 on Editeur Du Gite at Kempton over Christmas was fantastic. I’m very lucky. 

“The way he jumped and travelled was breath taking. You don’t worry about anything riding him, you just enjoy it. I love the horse to bits.”

“He is a very easy to get on with. That was my fourth win on him from five races but I’ve been quite lucky to get on him at the right time. Gary and the owners have put a lot of faith in me, especially I couldn’t use my 3lbs weight claim on him or when he won at Kempton.”

Editeur Du Gite has developed into a genuine contender for the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival but Niall insists he’s just taking it one day at a time. He’s been with Moore for four-and-a-half years having made the move from his home in Co Waterford, Ireland.

His brothers Sean and Conor are also jockeys based in Britain and several of his uncles are trainers. He started working for trainer John Kiely at weekends and holidays when he was 11-years-old. Niall added: “The whole family is horse mad. My brothers and I, all of us wanted to be jockeys as soon as we could walk. For Christmas we were given things like goggles and gloves. 

“Every Saturday we would be sitting on the couch watching the racing on the television. I just love the game.”

Judge Johnson very impressed

His Clarence House ride on Editeur Du Gite impressed our Jockey of the Month judge Richard Johnson.

He said: “I thought it was fantastic for Niall to ride a Grade 1 winner. “There’s plenty of jockeys who will never do that in their career so it was a huge achievement, especially as he’s still a conditional. He’s worked very hard at Gary Moore’s and he’s been given the opportunities he deserves.

“I thought Niall rode the race itself really well. He took up the running early on and he got the horse into a really nice rhythm. Against top jockeys like Paul Townend and Tom Cannon it can be quite intimidating for a young rider and he managed to deal with all the pressure that goes along with it really, really well. He’s got a very cool head and he judged everything just right.

“It was a great ride and Niall deserves to win the jockey of the month award.”

Quickfire Questions 

Rate your season out of 10 so far? 8/10

The horse you’re most excited about riding next? Editeur Du Gite

What is your favourite racecourse? Cheltenham. It’s the most competitive racing and the best atmosphere.

If you weren’t a jockey what would you be? I would be involved in horseracing somewhere. I’ve never thought about anything else really.

Who is your sporting hero? Eliud Kipchoge. He’s the only athlete in the world to run a marathon sub-two hours.

Tell us about your chosen charity. I’ve chosen Cancer Research for family reasons. Like most of us, cancer has affected a relative of mine and I ran the Brighton Marathon for Cancer Research two summers ago. It’s great to be able to keep the relationship going with such a good cause.