Tralee Native Makes Irish Team To Face Australia In Jockeys’ Challenge

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Niki O’Shea.

A TRALEE native will be part of the 2015 Irish National Hunt Jockeys’ Team to face Australia in this year’s Jockeys’ Challenge. The team was announced at the Galway Races by President Michael D Higgins.

Niki O’Shea, who is based in Adelaide, will be joined by jockeys Jonathan Burke,  Jody McGarvey and Australian-based Johnny Allen on the Irish team.

Nominated by Thoroughbred Racing South Australia, Niki and Johnny are among seven Irish jockeys sponsored to live and work in Australia and the Racing Authority hopes that including them in the Irish team will encourage more Irish jockeys to travel to Australia.

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Niki O’Shea (33), a native of Tralee, rode the first winner of his professional career for top National Hunt trainer Jessica Harrington.

Remarkably, he is taking part in the challenge series for the fourth time, making his debut in 2007. Based in Adelaide, South Australia, Niki has gained much of his experience working in Ireland with some of the leading trainers including the late Dessie Hughes and Conor O’Dwyer.

It has been 30 years since the first challenge, which took place in Ireland, and this will be the 40th clash between Australian and Irish teams of jump jockeys. Over the years, on nine occasions, a challenge took place in both countries in the same year. This is the 29th consecutive year that an Irish team has been invited to Australia to participate.

Team Australia won the Australia V Ireland Jockeys Challenge last year, despite Ireland winning the first leg. The score in the series stands at 24 wins for Ireland and 14 for the Australians with one drawn series. The last time that an Australian team came to Ireland was in 2007 when the visitors proved successful.

Jonathan and Jody will fly out with Team Manager Sean Lynch on August 22 and the series consisting of five races – one in Murray Bridge on Wednesday August 26th, two in Ballarat on Thursday August 27th and two on Irish Day in Morphettville on Saturday, August 29th. Irish day at Morphetville ranks as the second biggest raceday of the year in South Australia, attracting a large Irish contingent.

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