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Oliver Mc Carthy – Life in America


By Niamh D’O Gorman
Equestrian News & Sports Media spoke to Oliver Mc Carthy about how it all started, his career plans, life in America, and working for one of the biggest stars in world showjumping.
 1. How did you get involved in horses?
We always had thoroughbred broodmares at home and we have been very lucky in this as we bred horses such as ‘Ned Kelly’ which we sold as a three year old. He had a very good racing career, the highlight of which was winning the Irish Champion Hurdle. At a young age, i started riding ponies at home and with my cousin Greg Broderick.
My brother Darragh was also based with Greg for a number of years. Darragh has always been a massive help and support to me. He is still a great help to me as he is only a phone call away.
2. You were based with Greg when you won the RDS championship for young riders? Was it a difficult decision to leave Ballypatrick Stables?
Yes. I had been riding with my cousin for as long as I can remember. Most school holidays I would have gone up there, at weekends and during the summer. I still keep in contact with Greg as we are very close. Greg is a very experienced rider who has thought me so much and has been a massive help to me.
3. How did you end up working for double Olympic Gold medallist, Mclain Ward?

In 2013, I won the young rider bursary at the RDS horse show. I was delighted to even make the final let alone win as the other three riders are extremely talented. The prize was two weeks training abroad. I asked could I go and train with Mclain Ward as he is a rider I have looked up all my life. He was, and still is my favourite rider in the world.

When I was told I could go and train with him it was a dream come true. When I first came to Wellington, Florida, I was here for two weeks and was then offered a full time riding job. It is an absolute privilege to be here and I am so grateful for everything and all the opportunities I have been given. I could not be in a better place.
Oliver & 'Brickland' after winning the RDS bursary.
Oliver & ‘Brickland’ after winning the RDS Bursary.
4. Did you find it hard transition from Ireland to America?
No. It didn’t take me too much time to settle in here. There are some small differences but in general its not too different from home. One of the most obvious differences is the time allowed in competitions here. It is much tighter than Ireland and can really effect the scoring. Also the practice fence format is very different. You get your own fence four horses out and you don’t share it with anyone else.
5. Are the shows in the USA much different from Ireland?
Yes. They can be very different. There are a lot of other divisions beyond the professional riders. Juniors, Amateurs, Hunters and equitation classes can have more competitors than the professional classes. The number of entries here are probably higher than at home and the shows usually run for a number of weeks. There doesn’t seem to be any day shows on the calendar.
6. You work at Castle Hill Farm, one of the biggest showjumping and dealing stables in the US. It must take a huge team effort to run this operation.
The staff here are amazing. I am so grateful to work alongside them. They have done so much for me. Id really like to thank our manager Lee McKeever and his wife Erica for all the help and guidance they have given me. I have learned so much from them already.  I am thankful to them for what they have taught me. From the management and care of the horses to the flatwork and jumping. They are true horse people. Lauren Ward has also been a huge help to me.  I cannot thank these people enough for the advice and support they have given me while i have been at Castle Hill Farm. 
Interview sponsor: http://www.team-nijhof.nl/
7. Are you going to the Winter Equestrian Festival? if so,  how many horses will you compete and what level?
Yes.  I an currently competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival. I have been competing in different levels up to 1.45m.
Oliver competing 'Brightly' owned by Sagamore Farms

Oliver competing ‘Brightly’ owned by Sagamore Farms  Phelps Sports

8. What is your show schedule?
In the winter, we are based at the winter equestrian festival. The classes run from Wednesday to Sunday for twelve weeks. We swap the horses around and have a plan for what weeks they are going to compete.
During the summer, I mostly do shows in the New York area which are really nice and enjoyable. Most of those shows are close to home and don’t take more than a few hours to get to.
9. What are your career plans?
I hope to ride and deal at a top level.  I would love to ride on an Irish Senior team someday and feel my contribution counted towards their success.
10. Will you stay in America?
Yes definitely. I am extremely happy to be where I am and couldn’t be in a better place. Every day I learn something new and I feel my knowledge about the sport is expanding. I am so grateful and thankful to everyone at Castle Hill for this. I am so appreciative and thankful for all the opportunities that I have been given.
11. Mclain sells a huge amount of horses. Is it hard to keep your good rides for the big shows?
Mclain has a well established business and is well known for keeping a very high standard of horse. Sales are a huge part of the business and its important to keep a good turnover so the expenses can be met. Good horses are always sold. That’s the nature of the business.
12. Tell us a little bit about your current horses.
We have some really nice horses at the moment. A horse that I have been showing in the bigger classes is ‘Crossfire 10’. This horse belongs to Mclains wife Lauren.
Lauren has been very successful with ‘Crossfire 10’. Now that Lauren is expecting a baby, I have been showing him. He is a super horse that has thought me so much and I am so thankful to be riding him.
‘Emma’ is a 10 year old mare by ‘Thunder Van De Zuuthoeve’ who I have been showing. She is also a super jumper.
‘HH Rochambeau’ is a 7 year old by ‘Quasimodo Van de Molendreef’ who is owned by Double H Farm, and I would also like to thank them for letting me ride this horse as he is a fantastic jumper and shows all the characteristics of a horse with a big future.
‘Brightly’ is a 9 year old mare by ‘Tolan R’ owned by Sagamore Farm and is also a fantastic jumper too. I am so appreciative to be showing horses of this standard.
After speaking to this very unassuming young man, one clearly understand why he has been successful. Oliver has a great attitude and great work ethic. Oliver reiterates his appreciation to all the people who have helped him along the way. This speaks volumes about this young man and his attitude. Oliver Mc Carthy will be a star for Ireland in Nations Cups in the years ahead.
Starpower TN from http://www.team-nijhof.nl/
*** Photographs courtesy of Oliver Mc Carthy.

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