Damien Duggan pictured with Yasmine Akram.
Former national hunt trainer and point-to-point rider Damien Duggan is set to feature in a new television documentary series which follows the lives of Irish ex-pats working for the rich and famous abroad.
‘Irish in Wonderland’, which airs on RTÉ on Thursday, October 5th tracks Damien Duggan as he chefs on a Russian super yacht in the Cote d’Azur.
Presenter and ‘Sherlock’ star Yasmine Akram filmed Damien on board the 50-metre La Tania in Monaco, visiting the local market and charting the yacht’s luxury interior.
The privately-owned charter has hosted guests from royalty to rock stars and spends the season sailing to luxury destinations in the Mediterranean.
Damien moved to the French Riviera in 2012, leaving his wife and four daughters behind in Tipperary as he tried to forge a career outside racing following the recession.
Duggan attended one of the best schools in Ireland - Blackrock College in Dublin.
As soon as he left, he headed to England where his elder brother Jimmy was working for decorated trainer Fred Winter in Lambourn, later moving to Gloucestershire.
“I started a successful career as a point-to-point rider with 99 winners,” explains Damien who rode for celebrated trainers including three-times Cheltenham Gold Cup-winner Henrietta Knight.
“In the early 2000s I married and moved back to Tipperary buying and selling national hunt horses and obtained my trainers’ licence. But the recession took hold and by 2010 it was clear there was no money to be made buying or selling horses and I needed to do something fairly quickly to change direction. I had four daughters to think of.”
In early 2011 Duggan took a job as a chef in a local pub-restaurant.
“By the end of that year I was working all hours for no money. So, in 2012 I moved to Nice and left my family behind to try to get a job as a chef on a super yacht,” he added.
“I’d heard there was great money to be earned and I wanted some of it. I thought because most of the jobs are seasonal I’d get a job for the summer and then come back to Ireland to my family in winter. But as it happened, I got a job on a large, well-known motor yacht and I was offered a permanent contract.”
It was then he moved Clodagh and his daughters from Templederry to France, to a village forty-five minutes from where La Tania is based.
‘Irish in Wonderland’, which features the Drogheda-raised Yasmine Akram visiting the playgrounds of the super-rich in New York and the Hamptons as well as the Med, airs at 9.30pm on Thursday, October 5th.
Damien is due to appear in a follow-up programme scheduled to be filmed in spring 2018.