by Darren Irving
Early last July, 18 year old Sam Cottrill made the big decision to up sticks and set off for pastures new. The journey was to Waterford, Southern Ireland to be be precise where Sam would be house-sharing with four other colleagues and this is to be his home for the foreseeable future. The next morning it was a short 10-minute drive to Knockeen where the 2021 record-breaking trainer Henry de Bromhead oversees his string.
This has been a dream of Sam’s for as long as we care to speak about. He’s always loved horse racing and was lucky enough to have a horse named after him by his Papa (John Elliot) the horse in question being Sammy Spiderman who went on to win no less than five times.
Sam well and truly had the racing bug after seeing his beloved Sammy win, and for the next few years the arm on the couch was the scene of many famous victories, photo finishes, and many, many whip offences!
Sam then joined the Langholm Young Riders and went for lessons at Shawstown, and in 2013 he first got to ride the Common Riding on a little grey pony called Nellie. He has ridden every year since (covid excluding).
For Sam, school was getting in the way of looking after and riding race horses, He first of all got a weekend job for local trainer James Ewart before getting a full-time job there the second he could leave school!
Sam went on to work for James Ewart for a total of five and a half years, whilst also gaining experience with Nicky Henderson, Jonjo O’Neill, Ben Haslam, as well as the British Racing Schools in Newmarket and Doncaster.
With Ireland’s current domination in NH Racing it was always Sam’s dream to work for one of the powerhouse yards and after emailing and being offered a job at Henry de Bromhead’s (they come no bigger) and the dream was realised. Sam has since ridden, and looked after, numerous superstars in NH Racing, such as Honeysuckle, Minella Indo, A Plus Tard, Minella Times, Bob Olinger and many more – the list could go on and on.
Sam hasn’t as yet made it back home since July as he’s enjoying his new job and life so much, but has been visited by family on three occasions the latest over the New Year period. He will most definitely be over for the Common Riding however!
For those who enjoy the Sport of Kings, Sam can often be seen leading horses around various Irish Racetracks on Racing TV. Just look out for the lad that’s taller than the horse!