Ger’s love of horse racing was sparked from an early age as he grew up in the throughbred county of Ireland – Co. Kildare. His family lived close to Peter McCreery’s yard and when he watched horses working from his window every morning, he wanted to be involved in the sport. He worked for Peter at every opportunity throughout his school years. At the age of 20, Ger packed his bags for America to earn some valuable racing experience. Carl Nafzger, one of the top trainers in USA, offered him a job as a work rider. However, after six memorable months, Carl discovered that Ger was (way) over the weight criteria to ride his valuable two year olds and sent him to UK to become a jump jockey!!
Ger subsequently spent four years as a National Hunt jockey in northern England. Over this time, he rode 50 winners and completed the Aintree Grand National. However, his riding career came to an abrupt end after a horrendous fall in Newcastle in 1989. He married Lynne in 1992 and returned to Ireland. Glenburnie came into being when they purchased what was, at the time, Kiltale Stud in Co. Meath.
They commenced with a small string of dual purpose horses and enjoyed winners under both codes. The demise of his Powers Gold Cup Winner Big and Bold through injury in 2000, made him review his plans. The likelihood of injury in the National Hunt side was something that Ger found hard to live with. He soon switched his licence to concentrate solely on flat horses.
"My first winner was Maelalong in Navan on 12th October, 1994 and it was fantastic. We had very few horses at the time and I had one two year old and we went to Navan and won under Johnny Murtagh. I thought I would be champion trainer after the win! It couldn’t happen quickly enough for me. I get a great buzz out of every winner. The day I don’t get that buzz, I will have to stop training."
Ger particularly enjoys training two year olds and it was with the two year old filly Elletelle that he broke new ground winning the Queen Mary Stakes Gr2 at Royal Ascot in 2007 with Johnny Murtagh on board. The Marju filly, Lightening Pearl brought the pair to greater heights taking the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket in 2011. Year on year, Glenburnie continued to develop as a facility suitable for any equine star. Ger carefully built his team around him with a system that was efficient and practical, one that worked as his list of owners grew.
Horses like An Tadh, Endless Drama, Lily's Angel, Brendan Brackan and Cappella Sansevero raised the yard's profile. Jockey, Gary Carroll, became a huge part of the team at home as well as on the track. In 2014 Ger made the bold decision to appoint Colin Keane his stable jockey while still an apprentice. In 2017, Colin was crowned champion flat jockey in Ireland for the first time and they have reached several milestones together since. They shared their first Group 1 success with the very special Siskin in Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh, August 2019. Their first Group 1 on Irish soil. Classic victory came the following June when Siskin won the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas behind closed doors during the Covid 19 lockdown. Even So gave them a second Classic just five weeks later in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks. The 2020 season closed with Colin as champion jockey once again on 103 winners.
The goodwill wishes that followed Ger's classic succesess were incredible. However, he remains very pragmatic. "I train what's in front of me. I don't go dreaming about various horses. Whatever's in the yard, I train. But having horses sent to me from farms like Juddmonte, Moyglare and Newtown Anner has certainly changed things. They have brought really well bred horses to the yard which allows us to compete at the top table."
Click on the videos below to view Siskin's win in the Tattersalls Irish Guineas Gr1 and Even So in the Juddmonte Irish Oaks Gr1, both at The Curragh in 2020.