"It's a bit like going to see Messi play football" - McGuinness raring for Longines Irish Champions Weekend 1 month ago

"It's a bit like going to see Messi play football" - McGuinness raring for Longines Irish Champions Weekend

Brought to you by Horse Racing Ireland

When you hear talk of rural Ireland, you rarely think of Dublin.

City centre, traffic jams. Big shops and busy streets.

That's not the Dublin Ado McGuinness knows. All tucked away in the coastal calm of Rush in the north of the county, the rapidly rising horse-trainer is a long way away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city.

Calm and peaceful. Up in Rush, you could go a fair distance without meeting a soul.

"I grew a beard there during the lock-down and all! Someone saw me up on a video and they texted me to say 'there's an intruder in your office! But  it was quiet up here... I got it taken off as soon as we got the go-ahead," he laughs.

For the first couple of weeks, the shut-out was a welcome break for McGuinness and the team. An opportunity to take stock of the success they've had and to get a few jobs done around the yard.

"But the longer it went on," he says, "the more frustrating and uncertain it became. We had to let two staff off here for a couple of weeks."

All trainers felt the pinch. Small yards more than others. So while it's not quite business as usual - McGuinness claims that race meetings are 'just like work' nowadays - don't underestimate the relief he and the horse-racing contingent feel - to be up and running again.

It's not often you'd hear of a Dublin based horse-trainer, so how did this greenhorn get it all going?

Up in Rush, Market gardening is the name of the game and McGuinness was no different, making his way as a vegetable grower on his father's farm.

"We always had a horse or two at home and we always did a lot of show-jumping, myself and my sister. About 30 years ago then, we opened an equestrian centre and it was very successful. A guy came into me one day and asked me would I train his racehorse, and just like that, that was how I started.

From modest beginnings, McGuinness now has over 40 horses in training and has a number of big race-wins to his name at the Galway Races and at the Curragh.

"I can tell you, it was tough and hard and I had no experience with racehorses whatsoever. I made plenty of mistakes along the way but when you make a mistake, you don't do it a second game. There's never a day in this game when you don't learn.

"We're busy and it's great how it's going. We work hard, all the team here works so hard."

Next on the agenda is Longines Irish Champions Weekend, a weekend he dubs as one of the biggest in the season. McGuinness is eager to test his stable stars against some of the best flat-racing horses in the world

"We've four or five entered for the weekend. We've Sirjack Thomas and Trading Point. Hopefully they'll get in. We've Laugh A Minute in the Curragh then - he's in good form, he'll definitely run and we're expecting a big one. Saltonstall is another who is going well.

"It's a huge occasion and you're looking at some of the best horses in Ireland and England running against each other. Like Magical, Love and all these top class horses - to see them run is unbelievable. It's a bit like going to see Messi play football, people just want to go and watch it. You're looking at future stars as well so we all can't wait, it's brilliant.

Ado details his preparation for the big weekend here.

Follow Irish Champions Weekend on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for a brilliant weekend of top class racing live from Leopardstown & The Curragh with the best of entertainment from Jarlath Regan and The Academic #LICW2020