English Irishman dons Aussie Flag colours with pride

Irish apprentice Kieran Shoemark, who has lived most of his life in England, will proudly wear the Australian flag colours when he rides two topweights at Moonee Valley on Saturday, which is part of the Australia Day weekend festivities.

For the 19-year-old apprentice it will be another treasured memory from his successful six-week stint in Australia.

“I’m excited about wearing the colours. I’ll be sending pictures back home showing everyone. It’ll be special riding in them,” Shoemark said.

Shoemark will ride two top-weights for the trainer who has hosted him in Australia, Danny O’Brien, Bullpit and Zahspeed.

hoemark has ridden 10 winners since arriving in Australia, including seven city winners. He has also ridden a city double as well as two country trebles to boast an amazing winning strike rate of 21 per cent.

Shoemark said he had loved the racing so much he would like to come back next summer and ride out here for a three- to four-month stint.

Shoemark is apprenticed to leading English trainer Andrew Balding and came here on the recommendation of another of his apprentices, Oisin Murphy, who rode successfully here last summer.

“It’s lived up to everything Oisin, who is a close friend of mine, told me it would,’’ Shoemark said. “I’m sure if you asked Oisin a year ago if he wanted to come back, he would have said, ‘yes’.

“Oisin told me it was a great learning experience for him and he enjoyed it thoroughly, as have I. I was going to be happy if I made half the impact that Oisin did.”

Shoemark pointed out that Murphy returned to England after his Australian stint and became champion apprentice last year, and also rode a Group 2 winner.

“Oisin said his riding improved massively after coming out here last year and I’m hoping to do the same,’’ he said. “He might have even come back out but he got a contract in Dubai.

“I have to pinch myself how lucky I’ve been and how much help I’ve got from Danny.”

Shoemark will ride for one more week before returning home.

Story by Michael Manley, to view Herald Sun story click here