Alan King has paid tribute to the retiring Robert Thornton, highlighting the 2008 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle victory of Nenuphar Collonges as the ride that best showcased his talents.
The 37-year-old has been forced to call time on his career after suffering fractured vertebrae in a fall from Say When at Chepstow in April 2014.
For most of his career he operated as King’s stable jockey and the pair enjoyed a great run of success, winning the Champion Hurdle with Katchit, the Arkle and World Hurdle with My Way De Solzen and the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Voy Por Ustedes.
But it was the victory of Nenuphar Collonges, in another Grade One at Cheltenham, which King remembers fondly.
“We’ve been expecting the news for some time but it’s still a sad day when it finally arrives,” said King.
“I’ve known him for 25 years going back to our days with The Duke (David Nicholson) and we’ve been together for 14. He’s been a great man to have around.
“We’ve obviously shared the highlights of our careers together. Voy Por Ustedes, My Way De Solzen and Katchit, their wins at Cheltenham were particularly sweet. But if I were to pick out one of his rides as special, that would be Nenuphar Collonges in the Albert Bartlett. He was under hard pressure basically from the off and he ended up winning cosily. It was a great ride.
“Wayne (Hutchinson) will step in to his shoes now, just as he has done for the best part of two years.”
The jockey said in a statement: “Whilst I’ve always hoped to return, following recent specialist reports and having met with Dr Hill from the BHA, due to ongoing issues with my neck and upper limbs I have no choice but to retire. I’ve missed the camaraderie of the weighing room and will continue to do so. I’m sad to be retiring, but I’ve had a career I can look back on with pride.”
His afternoon began when winning the toteplacepot Racing’s Favourite Bet Nursery Handicap on Tikthebox (11-4 favourite) for David Brown before taking the first division of the toteexacta Pick The 1st And 2nd Handicap for Alan Berry on Raise A Billion (7-1).
He then teamed up with Jim Goldie to win the totequadpot Four Places In Four Races Handicap on Celtic Power (10-1) before claiming the Win A Football Fortune With Scoop6Soccer Handicap on Hero’s Story (7-2).
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