Sports

Gallagher dismounts and joins Dean's yard

Former Singapore-based jockey Mark Gallagher has been spotted by the side of Australian trainer Brian Dean at the Kranji races in the last couple of weeks, but don't expect to see him donning riding silks anytime soon - rather a polo tee, a cap and a stopwatch in hand.

After 28 years in the saddle and with over 1,000 winners to his credit, the 45-year-old Irishman hung up his boots early last month.

However, it is not a loss to the racing industry as he has decided to pursue a career as a stable supervisor with Dean.

GLOBETROTTER

A noted globetrotter, Gallagher rode in Ireland, England, France, America, India and Macau before plying his trade in Singapore from 2007 and 2010 when he rode 99 winners.

He then returned to India before finally calling Malaysia home in his last two years as a jockey.

During that stint, Gallagher did head south for hit-and-run visits to Kranji, riding at cross-border meetings, and last year, mainly for fellow Malaysian-based Irish trainer Barry Brogan at the Singapore Triple Crown series races, all in a bid to hit the century of winners. Unfortunately, he came up short.

Frustrated with the lack of opportunities across the Causeway and having always been keen on the Singapore racing scene, Gallagher put a phone call to Dean, asking if there any vacancies. The two men soon reached a deal.

Ironically, Gallagher, who had up to then drawn blanks in the 2014 season, finally rode a winner on March 2, but that did not soften up his resolve.

Two days later, he cut short his Malaysian stint by relinquishing his six-month Selangor Turf Club visiting jockey licence, which was valid until June 2014, and one week later, was granted a stable supervisor licence by the Malayan Racing Association.

"I was tired of riding. Barry's horses were not firing and I was not getting many rides in Malaysia," said Gallagher. "I asked Brian (Dean) if he had any job for me, and he agreed to have me on board as his stable supervisor.

"I'm happy to be here with my wife as I've always liked Singapore. My daughter is studying fashion design and is currently doing an internship here with Marie France, which has worked out well for us."

Though Gallagher was not among the leading jockeys at Kranji, he has always finished in the Top 10 bar his last season in 2010, but has missed out on a feature win here. The closest he came was when he took second aboard The Hornet in the Group 3 Committee's Prize in 2008, though he did capture the now-defunct Ladies Purse with Jolie's Shinju in 2008.

SURPRISE INVITATION

Gallagher, who can lay claim to one ride in the famous English Derby when he took leave from Kranji in 2007 to fly to England for a surprise invitation to ride Leander (14th to Authorized), rode his last Kranji winner (99th) aboard the Cliff Brown-trained Squall Line on Dec 19, 2010.

By coincidence, his last ride at Kranji was for Dean last November on Longines Singapore Gold Cup day when he finished unplaced aboard Phantom Knight.

His Malaysian career was just as honest without reaching great heights, with his best result being an 11th-finish on 18 winners in 2012, but he did, however, enjoy a fairytale ending to his riding career, when his last ride, the aptly-named Last Man Standing scored for fellow Irish trainer Danny Murphy on March 2.