Thornton's praise for retiring Alners
Published 02/05/2010 | 05:00
Andrew Thornton was quick to pay tribute to Robert and Sally Alner after news of their retirement from the training ranks emerged.
Thornton rode the 1998 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Cool Dawn to success to give the Alners their biggest victory but life at Locketts Farm changed drastically after a serious car crash in 2007 left Robert Alner in a wheelchair. Since the accident the licence has been held jointly but they will send out their last runners in August.
For Thornton, the news came as a shock but he only has fond memories of working for the pair. "I started riding for Robert in 1996 and had my first ride at Windsor for him," said Thornton.
"It fell at the first but I told him the horse gave me a great feel before then and would love to ride him again! Thankfully, Robert put me on it the next time and it won and from then on we've been great friends.
"Number one, through everything, they've both been great friends to me. What has happened has happened with Robert's accident and I'm sure he'd still be training now but you can't turn the clock back.
"At the time of the accident you never heard Sally complain but it must have been very difficult for her -- you can't imagine how hard it must have been but age catches up with everyone eventually.
"It's not like the old days anymore when one owner might have half a dozen horses. There are a lot more syndicates involved these days and the levels of prize money make it very difficult."