Ger Lyons has been training horses at his yard in Dunsany for 20 years. in 2013 he had over 45 winners , and some of those will run in Dubai in January in the Carnival Series.
Ger, how did you first get involved in the horse racing industry?
I grew up across the road from the late Peter McCreery in Clane Co. Kildare and my love of horses began from the moment I opened my curtains and watched the string of horses passing. I worked for Peter whenever I could during school. When I was 20 I decided to pack my bags and went to America and began working as a work rider with Carl Nafzger, one of the top trainers in the USA. After 6 months Carl realized that I was over the weight criteria for riding his valuable 2yo’s and I went to the UK to become a jump jockey and spent 4 years doing that. I recorded 50 winners during that time. In 1989 I suffered an injury in Newcastle and decided to retire and moved back to Ireland and started training horses in 1994.
What is a typical day like for you?
During racing season my day starts at 6am. The horses are fed at 6.30am. This takes approximately 30 minutes as we now have over 75 horses in the yard. Next up is the riding board schedule for the staff who arrive at 7.30 for an 8am start.
After a brief meeting with the head lad and staff, I head to the gallops where I harrow and role for an 8.30 start. The first lot gallop until 10:30am.
Next phase starts at 11am. Gallops have to be prepared between each session and by 12 noon all horses will have been worked.
At the same time I need to be around and accessible to the office as declarations must be in by 10am for the next day and deadlines for 5 day entries are by 12 noon.
I do an hour’s office administration before lunch and in the afternoon I could be either racing or preparing for the next day.
The turf season finishes early November and then during the off-season we have the option to run some horses in Dundalk (all-weather track) on Wednesdays and/or Friday. Dundalk has been a good track to me as I have been both leading trainer and the first trainer to train 100 winners. The off-season is all about planning for the next year and preparing any horses that I may bring to Dubai for the festival series. This year I will have three travelling. The rest of the off-season consists of buying new yearlings, breaking and resting and repairing existing stock. During this period the yard sees the most turnover with new yearlings arriving and older horses being moved or sold to Hong Kong, Dubai and USA.
Who in the industry do you admire?
There are many but the one that stands out for me is Jim Bolger. I pride my business on the independent approach that he has and loosely based my business model on the very successful approach that Jim brought to the industry many years ago.
If you had to give advice to someone who wants to be a trainer what would it be?
Try and serve your time under an experienced trainer for a minimum of three years. Learn how to properly source the horses that you would like to train. Set your standards and don’t compromise them.
What is the biggest pitfall(s)?
Don’t underestimate the amount of administration you have to do, make sure to surround yourself with good people that can handle that for you and learn to delegate so that you can get on with what you do best.
If you weren’t a trainer what you be?
I would have loved to have been a professional golfer. (Ironically Ger doesn’t golf anymore and hasn’t for years).
What has been your best moment in the Sport?
Lightening Pearl winning the Gr1 Cheveley Park Stakes in 2011 was a real highlight.
And the worst moment?
The game is full of highs and lows. Losing a horse through injury is always a low.