Meet the Cat who took to the horses
IT'S not often you see a cat on horseback, but former Kilkenny hurler James Dowling has proved the exception to the rule.
The 27-year-old is now an amateur jockey with a handful of wins under his belt.
Enjoying the Galway Races yesterday he admitted he has only taken to the Ballybrit track once before - and it didn't end well.
The sportsman, who was part of the Kilkenny minor squad a decade ago, is also a long-time member of Jim Bolger's yard.
"It was a summer job 14 years ago and I've never looked back since. It was a summer job that became part-time then became full-time for the last two to three years now.
"Jim and Dessie McDonagh have given me a few rides as an amateur and its been great. I've had two winners in the last two years, it's not much but it is a great achievement anyway," he said.
He admitted his boss being a huge hurling fan was a help.
"He absolutely is. I'd say to be honest if Wexford were in an All-Ireland final and the Derby was on the same day, I'd say he'd nearly go to the Wexford match to be honest with you," said James.
He also praised Bolger's support for St Margaret's, the local side with whom Dowling plays.
"The boss has been so good to our club, not just financially but he comes to matches whenever he can," he said.
But while he may be indulging his passion for racing, hurling will always remain his true love.
"The boss would never make us [choose], you make your own choices and hurling has always been number one, that's the way it is. With racing, I'm an amateur not a professional but the hurling is number one," he said.
The young hurler is among a range of sports stars taking part in an annual hurling match in aid of the Irish Cancer Society.
The event, organised by horseracing legend Jim and champion jockey Davy Russell, is in its fourth year and has raised €300,000 for research to date.
This year Kilkenny manager Brian Cody and legends DJ Carey and Nicky English will take part alongside soccer star Niall Quinn and jockeys Kevin Manning and Katie Walsh to name but a few. Broadcasting legend Micheal O Muircheartaigh will commentate for the event.