Michael O’Callaghan and Bogini

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In 2011, my dad and I bought Bogini as a 2-year-old from Tracey Collins. I was 22, still preparing breezers and didn’t have a trainers license, so we left her in training with Tracey. She won an average maiden for us in Down Royal, which got her a rating in the low 70s, then I brought her home to Millgrove Stud, where I was operating at the time, and gave her the winter off.

In spring 2012, as I had just applied for a restricted trainers license, I started to get her fit again. Once I got the license I gave her a couple of runs, then I sent her to Bath for a 5-furlong handicap as there were very few 3-year-old-only sprint handicaps in Ireland at the time.

I didn’t have a license to drive a horsebox at the time, so Martin Brew, who was head yard man for me at Millgrove (and still works here at Crotanstown) drove our old blue Mercedes lorry over on the ferry. Bath racecourse is on the top of a big hill and the lorry stalled a couple of times. We got there eventually, and parked up for the night.

The following morning, I thought racing was going to be called off as there had been a deluge of rain. But when we walked the track we couldn’t believe how the water had gone straight down through the ground, as if it had never fallen, while the roads around the track were totally flooded.

I felt that the filly, after her recent runs, had finally turned a corner, and was running off a nice mark, so I had booked Matthew Cosham, a good 5-pound claimer. When Matthew came into the ring I said, “just keep it simple, have her in a nice position and hold onto her as long as you can. It’ll take a good one to beat you.” He looked at me as if I had two heads, as I don’t think he thought she had much of a chance.

She bolted up by 5 lengths, and when Martin led her back in, there were tears streaming down his face. Basically the two of us had trained her together at Millgrove – driving her in and out to the Old Vic gallop on The Curragh most days. I spoke to my dad on the phone straight away, then I did an interview with At The Races where I barely said a word, as I was so overwhelmed by it all. It was a great moment. It was a great day.

As we headed back home I had a look through the racing program. I thought, if I got her entered up that day she would be eligible to run under a mandatory penalty without being re-assessed by the handicapper, so I entered her in a race at Sandown Park, six days later.

We got her home, threw her out in the field for two days, then took the ferry back to England.

Once again, she bolted up under Matthew Cosham.

A few weeks later she ran in a conditions race at Leopardstown with Fergal Lynch riding. It was a decent race, with fillies trained by Kevin Prendergast, Dermot Weld and Jim Bolger. As a young trainer I was eager to take their scalps and once Fergal made his at the furlong marker the race was effectively over. I also ran a filly called Khaos in the race, and was just denied the one-two, as Khaos was beaten by only a head for second place.

Bogini had started the 2012 season off on 68 and ended up rated 91. Her three in a row gave me the encouragement to think that maybe I could crack the training game, and 12 months later I started training full time.

As a broodmare, Bogini bred a few winners for our breeding operation, Rangefield Bloodstock, before being sold for e77,000 at Goffs, in foal to Showcasing.

The Bogini chapter is now closed, but it was well and truly the first chapter in my training career. For me, Bogini was the horse who changed everything.


A native of Tralee now living on the Curragh, Michael O’ Callaghan is one of Ireland’s most ambitious trainers. An award-winning graduate of the Irish National Stud Thoroughbred Breeding Course, O’Callaghan sourced and produced horses at the highest level before taking over the historic Crotanstown Stud yard on the Curragh.