be back home in a heartbeat FROM Irish Grand National to Cheltenham Festival to Grade Ones.
add in as much acclaim as one could handle from the usually unforgiving seat in a bookmakers office and Paddy Flood was made. Stable jockey to Edward O'Grady, then Mouse Morris and then Dessie Hughes, as well as the fact that his Irish National triumph came for the increasingly powerful Gigginstown House Stud of Michael O'Leary, you couldn't but imagine that Flood's permanent perch would be at the very top of Irish jump racing. As is the danger with all in his profession however, injury came a knocking and because of that unwelcome visitor he now finds himself many miles away from the glory days that he enjoyed on the Cotswolds, at Fairyhouse and aboard one of the most coveted hurdlers in recent history. When I touched down in Melbourne in the early hours of Tuesday morning local time, I hopped into a taxi to the address given to me by the Kildare native. At 3am, I gave him an early wake up call and we reminisced momentarily over a cup of tea before it was time to head to Flemington, where Flood is based with the Manula Racing team, spearheaded by Melbourne Cup winning trainer buy oakley sunglasses online Johnny Sadler. It may sound like arriving at someone's door at 3am is very much an inconvenience, but for the native of Cutbush off the Curragh, it was little more than just a slightly earlier than usual wake up call as work is supposed to start at 4am, although by his own admission Flood rarely makes it before ten past at the earliest. A quick stop at the shop shows that he has made an impact, as the shopkeeper in the 24 hour garage asks of his well being and knows that it's a cappuccino in his cup and what brand of fags he wants, while Karen in the yard nearly keels over when she sees his little blocky build march into the yard before the cyber monday oakley sunglasses church bells chimed four times. "Jesus Paddy, you're early," she exclaims, whilst trainer Johnny Sadler asks: "Did you sht the bed, Paddy?" So, apart from my presence having him in time for work for the first time in more than a year, why the 4am starts and the rebuilding of his life miles away from the home, which he remembers so fondly? "It's a big change," he stated. "I didn't see anything left for me for in Ireland," Flood added with a grimace. "I just couldn't afford to stay in Ireland as I had too many debts." Such an honest statement may suggest the high life and racked up arrears that he couldn't meet, but Flood didn't overshoot the runway. It is more a case of his form dipping, and so too did the rides and, naturally oakley thump enough, so did the income. "I hadn't the backing to stay in Ireland, so I was thinking of Australia or America. I had ridden a winner before oakley us out here (in Australia) so I said I'd give it a go. It's a good place to ride out, it's a good place to be but the racing is just not as good as it is in Europe." When I brought up Hear The Echo in the Irish National, Ninetieth Minute at Cheltenham and Hardy Eustace in the Morgiana Hurdle, Flood quickly reminded me of big race wins on Vic Venturi at Aintree, Rare Bob at Punchestown and Schindlers Hunt as well, and no matter how far from home you go, such memorable occasions obviously live with you forever. But Flood is in little doubt as to why he's in Australia to meet me at 3am on a Tuesday morning. "I was riding through a lot of injury in Ireland," he said. "I was sore riding and until I got an operation on my shoulder I felt like I was going out with my shoulder broke. Obviously, I was nowhere near what I could do." At the time, Flood was based with Dessie Hughes and the rapidly emerging Bryan Cooper was making major headlines. "Obviously, I felt I had to get back and show what I could do and I didn't do rehab and I just wasn't ready for coming back and I couldn't get a ride. I don't blame people for that; I just wasn't riding good at the time. "I knew people were thinking I wasn't riding as good as I used to and with the hard times and no money, I couldn't afford to stick around any longer and show people I was riding again." It was in September of last year when Flood made a rather rapid decision to move himself Down Under and set up base in Melbourne, leaving his family and long term girlfriend Emma behind. "I'm busy now riding out for John Sadler, who knows Johnny Murtagh well, and I think that's a factor of him liking the Irish style. I didn't settle here straight away and, to be honest, I still probably haven't settled into the jumps season. "I didn't get good rides but that's the way it is here. It counts for nothing what you have done anywhere else. You start at the bottom and get the scraps." Despite finding it hard to settle, the 26 year old is now earning a decent wage, has been joined by Emma and is beginning to enjoy life. "The prize money is huge here. The ordinary country meeting could see a maiden hurdle run for AUS$15,000 and you get AUS$400 a ride as well as travelling expenses and you could have three rides which means you may come out with nearly a grand without riding a winner and all they are here is a flat horse who has lost his form or who is fed up of racing and is then sent over jumps." But will he be here this time next year? "I'm not sure," he admitted. "I've got Emma here and she got a very good job and she's enjoying it and the lifestyle is fantastic but I would love to get an offer of a job in Europe, be it Ireland, England or France. "I think I have plenty left in me, but if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. It's not a bad life here I suppose. There's a lot of money to be made here and no financial issues. "I do miss the racing at home. I struggle to watch Cheltenham and that because you have been there and rode a winner there and I think of what might have been if things panned out differently. I didn't help myself by not dedicating myself fully but I'd love another crack. I just don't know if I will get it." There is no doubt that the rider has regrets and leaving the man who provided him with his Irish National success seems to be the biggest of the lot. "I'd be back in a heartbeat. I had some very good jobs but the one thing I regret is leaving Mouse Morris the way I left him.
I have a huge respect for Mouse and I loved the job, it was probably the best job I ever had. "I was a bit pig headed and I couldn't see the bigger picture and doing that to Mouse is the biggest regret I still have." On the plus side, sitting in the shadows of the towering Melbourne skyline, Flood concluded: "I feel mentally as good as I was when I was riding all the winners and I think I've matured a lot.
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