Seamie Heffernan, or James Anthony Heffernan to give him his full name, has been an integral part of Aidan O’Brien’s operation at Ballydoyle since 1996.
He’s never been No 1 rider at the yard but he’s won all but one of the Classics in Ireland – the 2000 Guineas has eluded him – and his exploits in Britain include winning the Investec Derby on Anthony Van Dyck in 2019 plus the Oaks on was in 2012.
Other Champions Series glory days have been on So You Think in the 2011 Coral-Eclipse plus the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes on Halfway To Heaven in 2008.
The global pandemic in 2020 meant Ballydoyle’s No 1 rider, Ryan Moore, was unable to travel to Ireland as often as he would have done normally.
That opened the door for Heffernan to win a fourth Irish 1000 Guineas, on Peaceful, plus a fourth Irish Derby on Santiago. And he guided Magical to her wins in the Pretty Polly Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes.
Now 48, Heffernan rode his first winner at the age of 16 and was champion apprentice in Ireland in 1994.
He’s from a family with no racing connections and was introduced to the sport when he took a summer holiday job with jump trainer Arthur Moore.