The vast majority of trainers heading to do battle at the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend at Leopardstown are born and bred in rural Ireland, but not Barry Connell.
The stockbroker turned owner, jockey and now trainer is a south Dublin native, as he lives in Carrickmines, but has recently set up a boutique, state-of-the-art training base in Nurney, Co Kildare.
The multi millionaire continues to work in finance but on his own terms now and juggles the stock markets with galloping horses.
He has a few very good ones as well, notably Marine Nationale, who gave him a first Grade 1 winner as a trainer in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse earlier in the season, and Good Land, who is favourite to give him another top level success in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle on Saturday.
Connell never sat on a horse until his early 30s, but went on to ride over 30 winners in his own colours on the track.
“I got a great buzz out of riding, and when I retired from that I thought about getting something set up,” he told The Irish Field recently. “When I had horses with various trainers, I was going around and keeping an eye on how they were training. So we had a good idea of what sort of project we wanted to set up.
“It’s about getting the right place and putting the staff and facilities together. The people that work here are gems, they really are.
“I’ve an office here (in Nurney) and an office at home. I’d nip into the office to keep an eye on things between lots and myself and Rory (son) would usually get finished at 12.30 and head back.”
Good Land is already a Leopardstown winner, having scored a two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle at the Christmas Festival. If he goes well at the weekend, he should book himself a ticket to his main target at Cheltenham, the Ballymore Novice Hurdle.
“We couldn’t be happier with him,” Connell said. “I think the extra two furlongs won’t be an issue with him. He won really well at the course the last day. I don’t know what he beat but the big three stables were represented so the form should stack up.
“He is a lightly raced horse and hopefully he should improve.”