Eddery to retire at end of season

PAT EDDERY has abandoned the impossible chase to become the all-time winning-most jockey in British racing history by announcing that he will retire at the end of the season.

The 51-year-old, 11-times champion Flat jockey in Britain, occupies second place on the list behind Sir Gordon Richards with a total of 4,585 successes to his name.

But with just 30 wins so far this season the rides and victories are starting to dry up for Eddery, who has elected to quit while still at the top of his game in order to set up a new ownership venture, the Pat Eddery Racing Club.

Speaking at a press conference at Windsor yesterday, Eddery said that taking out a trainer's licence had never been an option.

"I just never really fancied it," he said. "If you're going to be a trainer you've got to start as a young man. I know a lot about it but it's different to actually doing it.

"Obviously I am going to miss the riding but I've got to get on with my life and this is something new and exciting.

"It's a wrench. I will miss the excitement of riding winners. But it wouldn't be right if I wasn't feeling some sadness," he admitted, showing a rare amount of emotion.

"I still feel I am happy riding but the time has come to say that I can't go on for ever. This is a big day for me, to say that I am packing up.

"Horses and racing have been great for me all my life and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I've got no regrets. I've ridden for some great trainers over the years, had great jobs and worked with great people. I can't thank them enough for supporting me.

"Winning my first Breeders' Cup, my first Derby and also my first Arc they are all good memories.

"Horses like Golden Fleece, El Gran Senor, Dancing Brave, Pebbles, Bosra Sham all stick in the back of my mind they are all just as good as each other.

"It's difficult to pick out any one horse because there were so many good ones.

"The best Derby ride I ever had was Golden Fleece, he was fantastic the way he came from off the pace. And then Dancing Brave did the same at Longchamp.

"I've been lucky because we had the great (Lester) Piggott, Yves Saint-Martin, (Willie) Shoemaker I rode against all of those guys and now we have got Frankie Dettori and Kieren Fallon, who are tough to beat.

"I'd have to say that in his heyday, Piggott was the hardest to beat. Socially he is great fun but when you were riding against him he was very tough."

Eddery admitted that his decision had partly come about as a result of his failing to get the same quality of rides as in seasons past.

"You go to a big meeting now and most of the best horses are owned by Godolphin or Ballydoyle and they have their own jockeys. It's difficult to keep on the best horses now."

Eddery said he felt he would need "four or five more seasons" to get the remaining 286 winners he would need to surpass the total set by Sir Gordon Richards.

"I'd like to think that I could do it but it's going to take an awful long time I need to ride 100 winners every year to get by it," he said.

"My back's all right and my weight has been better than ever this year, so that's not why I am doing it."

The Pat Eddery Racing Club will start next year, under the guidance of Eddery and his wife Carolyn, who is responsible for running Musk Hill Stud, the Club's home.

Grant Pritchard-Gordon will be bloodstock advisor with John Newman and Simon Double, both formerly syndicate managers for Peter Harris.

"Obviously I run a stud farm and all the yearlings will come to myself and Carolyn and we will take care of them and then send them off to various trainers. Grant, myself, Simon and John will look after that," Eddery said.

"The first season we will be hoping to have about 20 horses and then build it up from there. I've got six yearlings of my own at home and I hope that some of them will join the syndicates.

"I am still going to be involved in what I really like horses."

For a man who has ridden a total of 465 Pattern-race winners in Europe in his career, Eddery has just one remaining wish before he hangs up his saddle.

"I'd just like to win a Group One, any Group One, before the end of the season," he said. Asked if such a win might prompt him to call it a day at that point, Eddery replied: "It might do."

Trainers and jockeys later queued up to pay tribute to Eddery. The tributes were led by two of the men who were Eddery's biggest rivals for much of his career former jockeys Lester Piggott and Willie Carson.

Living legend Piggott said: "Pat has had a great career and is a marvellous jockey", and he added with a smile: "I can't undertand why he is giving up when he is so young he must have made more money than I did!"

Carson, now a BBC pundit, said: "Pat is the true professional, through and through. It is a shame he is not going to beat Sir Gordon Richards' record for winners, but I suppose sitting in the weighing-room day in day out watching lesser lights, as it were, getting the jobs he can do is difficult to stand.

"But he has done everything, he has nothing to prove and he has had a marvellous career. He was never late for a race meeting, and he was always completely focused. He is riding as well as ever and no-one can criticise him.

"He had a different (riding) style to me, but it is all about getting the job done and Pat always did."

Eddery's current weighing-room colleagues were full of praise for the man who rode his first winner in 1969.

Richard Quinn said: "He's been a great ambassador for the sport. All the apprentices look up to him. I wish him all the best with his new venture." Kevin Darley added: "What you see is what you get with Pat Eddery. There are no frills."

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