We are genuinely delighted to confirm Savvy are now sponsoring talented up-and-coming Irish jockey Michael O’Sullivan. Read on for the background from our Chief Revenue Officer and co-founder Eoin Whyte… It’s a new adventure for Savvy.
How it started
Day one of the Cheltenham Festival took place just a few short weeks ago in mid-March 2023. It’s no secret at this stage that the Savvy management team clears that week in the diary every year and heads to Cheltenham. So much so that even when we occasionally bump into clients at the races, they know that we’re off duty and shop talk is seldom. Up until this point, the horse racing fun has always ended on the Friday evening and it’s back to work the following week. This year, however, would prove to be different.
A young Irish jockey, Michael O’Sullivan, barely out of college and having turned professional 6 months earlier, rocks up with the winner Marine Nationale on Race 1 of Day 1 which the trainer Barry Connell had been confidently predicting for weeks was going to happen. Predictions at Cheltenham are usually fool’s gold (mine certainly are, anyway) but this one was different. Barry Connell said afterwards of Michael… “We’re absolutely blessed to have found the next superstar of the weighing room in Michael O’Sullivan, you mark his name. Have you ever seen a cooler ride in Cheltenham? Unbelievable. If you gave me any jockey riding I wouldn’t swap him.” It’s fair to say we were intrigued.
Jockeys you see, are the hardest and bravest sports stars in the world. Stand at a racing fence when 25 horses are hurtling over it at 35mph and you get a small sense of what they do every day. Injury is commonplace, serious injuries or worse lurk at every fence, with no way to know if today is going to be the day your life changes. All such risks are taken on board by every jockey as part of the job of seeking the ultimate goals in the sport of kings.
Horse racing is also the only sport in the world where men and women line up side by side in the same contest and let the best man or woman win. Trainers equally have no sentiment for gender. They want the best athlete on their horse. Behind the scenes, away from the lights, jockeys are also just about the hardest working sports people you’ll read about. The long days, the travel, the uncertainty of income, the weather exposure, the weight management – it breeds a different type of human animal. Marry up unmatched bravery with equality of participation, self-discipline, and ultra dedication. It’s a potent mix.
Savvy had already started an internal initiative in 2023 around ‘giving back’ where local community causes like sports teams and a local church (all individually important to the Savvy team) are now being supported by us. When we heard Michael was available to sponsor, we wanted to play a role in levelling his playing field and assist a young talent to achieve his potential. We already knew from his burgeoning reputation and his background that he had all the ingredients, so all we had to do to help was give him the additional resources. It was a quick and easy decision in the end.
Maybe he’ll run in winners all around him and become a real-life activation of our ‘Win with Savvy’ USP. Maybe it’ll go differently. Bumps and bruises are guaranteed either way though, and that perhaps is the real story to enjoy. Business is bumpy. It’s messy and in the end, the wins are only part of the story. The defeats teach you more in the long run. So we’ll be following him through the ups and downs, bumps and scrapes of his next 12 months and are hugely excited to see what happens, starting with Aintree Grand National Festival 2023 in Liverpool next weekend.
– Eoin Whyte