After the global financial crisis in Ireland and the frenetic lifestyle in Sydney, Daniel O’Connor is more than happy to call Perth home.
The O’Connor name is relatively new to WA training ranks, but his racing resume is broad and jam packed with international experience.
A jumps jockey and horse breaker in Ireland to working with English horseman, Richard Hannon, O’Connor’s grounding in thoroughbreds is extensive.
Six years ago, O’Connor reluctantly left home in search of improved opportunities after sluggish economic conditions had impacted the Irish racing industry.
With his Scottish partner, Lorraine McCann and young daughter in tow, O’Connor travelled to Sydney and commenced his Australian grounding under, Rick Worthington, at Warwick Farm.
But the bright lights of Australia’s biggest city failed to stimulate the Irishman who was soon back on the road again, this time trekking across the Nullarbor to Perth.
And combined with a dose of good fortune and generosity, O’Connor landed a plum job with one of Western Australia’s leading racing families.
“On leaving Sydney I had the names of two Perth trainers in my pocket and I decided the first name I pull out will be the first one I contact,” O’Connor said.
“It happened to be Dan Morton who was kind enough to offer me a position at his stable and sponsor me as part of Australian visa application residency rules.
“The other trainer’s contact that I had was Fred Kersley, so I don’t think I was ever going to miss out by coming to Perth.
“I enjoyed working with Rick Worthington, but the Sydney lifestyle didn’t suit me and I was told Perth was very family oriented.”
O’Connor, who has also worked with trainers in Germany, Switzerland, Norway and France, said Morton’s knowledge had given him an invaluable insight to Australian racing.
“Dan is a perfectionist who has taught me so much,” O’Connor said.
“He has been brilliant in educating me about Australian racing.”
O’Connor, now comfortably nestled in the heart of local racing territory at Mathieson Road, Ascot, is out to claim the iconic Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m).
He firmly believes he is in with a big shot of taking out Monday’s race after Star Value posted a dominant last-start win at Ascot when stretching out to 2200m.
“He has turned into a top class horse over his past two runs,” O’Connor said.
“He is very consistent and as hard as nails.”