CASTLEDERG native Simon Torrens is having the best season of his career so far and over the last three months he has ridden six winners, including one for his uncle Mervyn at Down Royal, which he admits is certainly a highlight of 2019.
The 23-year-old’s rich run of success began in Wexford on September 7 when he won on She’s Flat To The Mat and on Captain Cobajay.
He followed that up with a victory for his employer, respected trainer Aidan Howard, on Peter Jones’ Franklyn on September 12 at Listowel before winning again on Captain Cobajay at Fairyhouse on October 12.
A host of top three finishes either side of that success came and went before he sealed that win at Down Royal on Askann for his uncle Mervyn Torrens in the Allianz Handicap Hurdle on November 1.
His win streak was extended on November 23 at Gowran Park when he rode Philip Dempsey’s I Know Where I Am Now to victory in the handicap hurdle.
He followed that success by riding JP McManus’s Winter Escape to sixth in Navan, was third on Enduring Love in Thurles last Thursday and was second on Paranoid in Limerick on Friday.
“It’s going good at the minute!,” beamed the former Omagh Academy pupil.
“I’m lucky that [Aidan Howard] does a lot of pre-training for JP McManus, so I’m getting a good few opportunities.”
Opportunities are all well and good but Simon knows the timing of them can be key. His big break this year actually came on that September day in Listowel where he took a ride no-one else wanted.
“Another lad fell and broke his shoulder, which left a ride [on Captain Cobajay] spare because nobody wanted to ride it,” he explained.
“It’s form wasn’t that great, it had struggled to get a round a couple of chases and it had fallen a couple of times, but I said I’d ride it and luckily enough he happened to skate in for the win!
“I’ve managed to keep the ride on him and I’ve ridden him five times over the last couple of months and I’ve won on him twice.”
Those successes have certainly boosted Simon’s reputation, especially that double win at Listowel, but riding his uncle Mervyn’s horse to victory at Down Royal was an experience he will treasure.
“That was a nice one, at Down Royal during the Festival of Racing at my home track, so to speak. It was definitely a day to remember!,” he beamed.
“Along with the double, that was one of the year’s highlights, but I’d say that might just pip it given the family angle.”
Simon’s recent run of success hasn’t come overnight. He has been grafting away in stables around the Curragh since leaving school after his GCSE’s and has overcome serious injury in the process.
On November 1, 2015, when riding 33/1 shot, Bobbie’s Diamond in Cork, disaster struck when he shattered his leg in a fall. That injury required surgery and although he was told he may need a year out, the gutsy Tyrone man was back racing three months later.
Since then he hasn’t looked back and he is delighted to have persevered.
“It’s made all the sacrifices worthwhile because there are some days it does get disheartening and you think ‘what am I doing?’. Sometimes in the cold mornings, you think ‘I should have stayed in school. I should be in an office’.
“But, look, once the thing gets going and you have those highs it makes it all worthwhile and the feeling you get coming off the last fence knowing you have the win is unbelievable! It’s real good!”