SO who is Padraig Beggy? It’s a reasonable enough question for all but the sport’s most avid followers, because, while Beggy is 31 and has been around for a long time, he has had only a fraction of the rides in 2017 enjoyed by apprentice Gina Mangan, who was barred from riding in the Derby at Epsom on Saturday.
Not that anyone is suggesting Beggy was not fit to ride in the Derby. Far from it.
Jockeys do not get to ride for trainer Aidan O’Brien and “the lads” if they are not well up to the job and besides having proven himself a key work rider at Ballydoyle, this first ride at Epsom shows he clearly possesses a cool head for race riding.
O’Brien insisted that there was never any questioning his suitability for a ride like Wings Of Eagles.
Beggy grew up a few kilometers from Fairyhouse but did not sit on a horse until he was 14. Like so many capable young riders in Ireland, he struggled after a successful apprenticeship with Kevin Prendergast so tried his luck in Yorkshire with John Quinn. But after adding just eight wins in two years it was time for another move, this time to Australia.
A positive urine test for a prohibited substance incurred a lengthy suspension from the New South Wales stewards and might have been a professional disaster, but without it he would almost certainly never have been at Epsom, riding for the genius that is O’Brien.
Beggy, an engaging character who the media centre warmed to immediately, explained: “I got into a bit of trouble in Australia. I made a bad mistake and I had to put it behind me. I was knocked down and I had to pick myself up and come back fighting.
“I came home from Australia and two good friends of mine who were with Aidan got me the job. I started at Aidan’s early in January 2015 and I’ve been there ever since, riding the best horses in the world day in and day out.
“I’d never have got my leg over these sort of horses anywhere else and now I’ve won the Derby!” – Racing Post