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Monday 10 December 2018

Thornton career a grand affair

Jockey Andrew Thornton will bring the curtain down on his career in the saddle today Pic: racingpost.com
Jockey Andrew Thornton will bring the curtain down on his career in the saddle today Pic: racingpost.com

Andrew Thornton's retirement at Uttoxeter today will signal the end of an era in weighing rooms up and down England.

The 1998 Gold Cup-winning jockey is calling it a day following a career in the saddle which saw him ride his first winner way back in 1991 for training great Arthur Stephenson.

As well as Cool Dawn in the blue riband, there were two other Cheltenham Festival successes and a raft of other big-race successes.

The Welsh National on Miko De Beauchene, the King George VI Chase on See More Business and the Hennessy Gold Cup on Gingembre mean there is one glaring omission from his CV.

Circuit

"I think Simon was my best chance of a Grand National winner. He won the Great Yorkshire Chase and the Racing Post Chase, but fell at Valentine's on the second circuit (at Aintree)," said Thornton.

"I tried my best and I won a Welsh and a Scottish National, but Aintree was the one that got away."

Thornton has four rides at the Midlands venue, starting with Edward Elgar in the second division of the two-mile handicap hurdle, aptly renamed the Andrew Thornton Congratulations On Your Retirement Handicap Hurdle.

"He'll have an each-way chance. He has his own ideas, but if he's on a going day then he'll have a chance. I've been riding for Caroline Bailey for about 10 years and had a few nice wins on Noble Legend for her," said Thornton.

"Then it's Amirr for Seamus Mullins.

"I think I had my first ride for him in 1995, we go back a long way. He's definitely got a chance on his last run. Back on decent ground and after a break - he'd be my best chance.

"Westerberry would have an each-way chance, she is what she is. My last ride is Manhattan Spring and he looks to have Paul Nicholls' Stradivarius Davis to beat. Saxon Warrior looked a good thing in the Derby, though, so you should never be scared of one!"

Thornton has seen many changes in the game, but reckons the biggest difference is the mindset of the new breed of jockeys.

"I'd say the professionalism of the lads now is the biggest change. The advances in physiotherapy, improvement in diet and fitness - you can't play at this game or you get found out," said Thornton.

"I think that was brought about by John Francome. I've spanned two eras really, with Francs, Peter Scudamore, Richard Dunwoody and Jamie Osborne passing on to AP (McCoy), Dicky (Richard Johnson) and Timmy Murphy et al.

"I don't think it will be possible for anyone to match the number AP and Dicky have racked up, simply because there is no trainer as dominant these days."

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