Wednesday 18 September 2019

Winston looks forward to 'time on his hands' as he hangs up reins

Bowing out: Jockey Robert Winston announced his retirement from the sport. Photo: Getty Images
Bowing out: Jockey Robert Winston announced his retirement from the sport. Photo: Getty Images

Marcus Armytage

Robert Winston, who but for some bad luck might have been champion jockey in 2005, is to retire with immediate effect. His last ride was at Brighton on Monday.

In September 2005, Winston was leading the jockeys' title race with 124 winners and still going great guns when he suffered serious facial injuries in a fall at Ayr. He had to have two plates in one side of his jaw, three in the other and one in his eye socket. Repairing his teeth kept a dentist in business for months.

Given that as a boy he first came into contact with the animal that he would spend 23 years riding professionally delivering logs on a horse and cart in Finglas where he was brought up, and with no background in the sport, Winston did well.

He had a topsy-turvy career, being victorious in several Group Ones but he was also banned for a year for passing on information for reward in 2007 - although he was cleared of stopping horses and there was no proof that he was "rewarded".

Winston, 39, cited the age-old problem for jockeys whose weight has always been borderline - the loss of incentive to keep it under control because of a lack of decent rides as a prime reason for his decision.

Winston, whose partner Victoria Cartmel runs a pre-training centre in Chilton, Oxfordshire, thought long and hard about retirement a couple of years ago but Librisa Breeze, Dean Ivory's sprinter came along, and soon he was riding almost all of owner Tony Bloom's horses.

Last year Winston won the Northumberland Plate for Bloom on Withhold and his last ride for him was on Flaming Spear, who won a Listed race at Kempton last November.

However, he was told he would not be riding the horses this year. That, combined with a spill at Newcastle which aggravated an old neck injury, helped speed his decision.

"The physiotherapists did a brilliant job getting me back in shape but when I came back it was not the same," he said.

"Things had changed and I had lost interest. My best day of all was winning the Champions Sprint on Librisa Breeze but Masta Plasta and South Central, who both won the Norfolk, were other good ones.

"I formed a very good relationship with Barry Hills and rode some big winners for him including Red Jazz, Prime Defender and Angels Will Fall.

"I am going to help Victoria with the business but I am going to have a lot more time on my hands. While I was riding I used to help out small breeders matching their mares to stallions and I am open to that kind of thing."

Yesterday's Mondialiste Leger Legends, highlight of the first day of Doncaster's St Leger meeting, was won by Sammy Jo Bell on Dubai Acclaim for her old boss Richard Fahey. She beat Noel Fehily in a tight finish. Kieren Fallon was back in fourth.

Bell was forced to give up race riding by injury in February 2018 but is still involved in racing, working as assistant to her partner trainer Philip Makin.

Today at Doncaster Dame Malliot can give trainer Ed Vaughan one of his biggest winners in the DFS Park Hill Stakes (2.40) while the Queen's King's Lynn can build on a promising debut in the Weatherbys Racing Bank Stakes (3.15).

Irish Independent

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