Teenage jockey killed in freak accident 'as sound a fella as you would ever come across'

Ryan Cusack. Pic: Healy Racing

A rising star jockey - who had ridden for Champion horse trainer Enda Bolger and owner JP McManus - was tragically killed in a freak accident today.

Ryan Cusack, 17, from Murroe, Co Limerick, died in a field near the Bolger training yard at Howardstown House, Co Limerick.

He fell from a trailer that was attached to a tractor which had been collecting trees that had been damaged in the recent storms.

There was widespread shock and sadness at the Bolger yard as Mr Cusack's friends and colleagues tried to come to terms with his sudden passing.

The young jockey was earmarked as a bright horse racing star, even though he had only began to carve out a career in the saddle.

Paying tribute, fellow trainee jockey, Cathal Courtney, 18, from Kildare said: "It's terrible. He'd never do harm to anyone else.

"It's a tragedy, he was such a nice bubbly young fella. He really enjoyed what he did," Mr Courtney, another trainee jockey said.

Trevor Ryan, who has been training to be a jockey at the Bolger yard for the past year and a half, and who is a close friend of the deceased, described Mr Cusack "as sound a fella as you would ever come across".

He described how Mr Cusack had recently broken through the ranks this year securing his first three rides on, Far and Away, trained by Enda Bolger and owned by JP McManus.

Mr Cusack was also looking forward to celebrating his 18th birthday next Wednesday. He is survived by parents Vincent and Martina, his brother Barry and sister Holly.

"He did his first couple of rides this year. He had three rides and he had just started this year in point to point (races)," Mr Ryan said.

The Cusack family are well-known in horse and hunting circles. His uncle Liam, runs a small stable yard, and is also a former jockey.

"His uncle was a good jockey. He would be (well known). He has a (similar operation to Enda Bolger's yard) but on a smaller scale," added Mr Ryan.

"He always loved a craic and a joke," said Mr Courtney.

Workers said Mr Bolger is currently training 16 jockeys from all over the country at his stable yard, located between Bruree and Athlacca.

Mr Cusack had been training full time under Mr Bolger's team since last August, and had just put down his first full season.

"It's tough for his family," said another worker at the yard.

The man who wished to remain anonymous said Mr Cusack was dedicated to the sport he loved.

"He'd do anything you'd ask him, he'd do anything for you. He was first into the yard every morning. He was a hard worker. It was love and joy for him I suppose. He was over-dedicated, I would say."

"No one knows if he would have made it. There's lots of lads that are good enough if they got the breaks. We'll never know now," he added.

"He came here to be a stable lad, to learn (the trade), to try and to get rides. They come here and start in the mornings, brushing out the stables, etc.

"He was taking down toppings (tops of damaged trees), and gathering up the toppings and bits of timber that had blown down in the storms," one worker at the yard explained.

Mr Ryan said everyone at the yard was heartbroken.

"You keep expecting him to come around the corner," he said.

"It feels like a nightmare you just want to wake up from. I knew him for a couple of years.

I've known him from been around the point to point races. He had the two rides for Enda (Bolger) and one for another man in Croom.

"He'd done an awful lot of pony racing rides before that when he was younger. Pony racing is basically the underage version of GAA for horse racing.

"It's how a lot of people get going in the business. An awful lot of the top jockeys today came up through it that way."

Mr Courtney added: "It's hard to get your head around it."

Workers said Mr Bulger had left Howardstown House to meet and pay his respects with the deceased's family at University Hospital Limerick, in the city, where Mr Cusack's body was brought for a post mortem.

Gardaí at Bruff are investigating the incident as are the Health and Safety Authority.

  • Click to stay connected with more stories like this
  • Sign up here to receive news by email. Once per day, no spam.

Most Read in Ireland