Former Under-21 champion Michael O’Sullivan made the move to the professional ranks at Kilbeggan on Friday when he had three rides to kickstart the next chapter of his career.
The 22-year-old secured the under-21 title in 2019 with a season’s best 16 wins, but a successful summer under rules, including a first racecourse double at Limerick in July, encouraged the Mallow native to make a full-time switch to the professional ranks.
“I had a good summer, getting plenty of opportunities and it was a case of now or never,” the former UCD Animal Science student said.
“I have 18 winners on that track now so I only have seven left on the seven-pound claim which is important when you are turning which was another factor and my weight is good.
“I loved being an amateur and there were plenty of opportunities so it wasn’t an easy decision, but I have been thinking about it all summer. I spoke to a lot of people and got plenty of advice and I think it was probably a no brainer in the end with my weight being good.”
O’Sullivan, who has now moved to Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny having spent much of the summer riding out for Willie Mullins, will have Ken Whelan as his agent.
“I am riding out in Willie’s three mornings a week, then I go to Barry Connell, John Ryan and plenty of other people too. Ken (Whelan) has helped me out plenty as an amateur, so I will stick with him and he is doing a good job so far.”
His career in the professional ranks begins in the opening maiden hurdle at Kilbeggan on Friday aboard Paul Cashman’s Keepthepresent.
"Plenty of people have supported me in point-to-points which I am very grateful for, and it is funny that one of my biggest supporters from the point-to-points has been Paul Cashman and I am actually having my first ride as a professional for him in Kilbeggan,” O’Sullivan added. “He wouldn’t have many track runners so it is great that it has worked like that.”
He now follows in the footsteps of successful riders such as Sean O’Keeffe, Jordan Gainford, Shane Fitzgerald and Jack Foley who have all made the permanent switch to racing under rules in recent years having cut their teeth in the pointing sphere.