A WEEK to remember for Micky Hammond’s Middleham yard was capped by conditional rider Finian O’Toole’s treble at Sedgefield.
The 24-year-old has not looked back since joining the stable from Malton-based Malcolm Jefferson and his wins aboard Oscar O’Scar, Verko and Roxyfet demonstrated his burgeoning reputation over steeplechase fences.
Like award-winning assistant trainer Gemma Hogg, County Galway-born O’Toole does not hail from a racing family.
“I was an amateur rider in Ireland and just kept tipping away,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“I was coming to 21 and nothing was happening. I decided to pull my finger out, get my weight in check, give it a proper go and see I can make it. I’m quite tall.
“I’m 5ft 11ins so I do lots of running and go the gym. I have to keep telling myself that I am an athlete.
“It’s a positive yard and going well in every respect.”
“I had four good rides at Sedgefield and was obviously delighted to get one winner on the board. The next thing, I’m riding my first double.
“And then a treble – it’s unbelievable.”
Having never ridden a winner in the UK prior to this season, O’Toole now has 12 successes to his name and his hungry for more.
He also draws particular inspiration from Ireland’s champion jockey Davy Russell who served his apprenticeship at the former West Witton yard of Ferdy Murphy before returning to the Emerald Isle.
Russell won the 2014 Gold Cup on Lord Windermere and O’Toole added: “I like the way he rides over a fence.”
The jockey’s Sedgefield success caught the eye of the aforementioned Hogg who said: “Finian is a super chase jockey.
“Our team of staff and horses are super, and we couldn’t be prouder of them all.”