Big-stage bow out for Hills

Richard Hills brings the curtain down on his stellar career in the saddle with four rides at Meydan today.

The 49-year-old announced his intention to retire as a jockey last month after winning several Group One prizes, principally for his retaining owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, for whom he has been number one jockey for the last 15 years.

Hills said: “I spoke to His Highness Sheikh Hamdan in July last year and we both felt that for me to retire on Dubai World Cup night would be a great way to go.

“I won the 1999 Dubai World Cup on Almutawakel, so there will be many happy memories as well as some sadness.

“The whole experience has been fantastic from start to finish. I have enjoyed plenty of success over the years and I got a great reception when I rode at Jebel Ali for the last time on Saturday.”

Hills’ first ride on Saturday is in the Dubai Kahayla Classic, a race for Purebred Arabian horses.

Having won this race on four previous occasions, Hills will be aboard Versac Py, who has won his last four starts and represents the jockey’s best chance of a winner.

“It would be nice to go into that winner’s circle one more time, but either way, I have had a wonderful career,” Hills said.

The rider’s second mount is Derbaas in the Godolphin Mile, whom he has chosen over fellow Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned runners Barbecue Eddie, Snaafy and Haatheq.

“It was a difficult decision,” Hills continued.

“There probably isn’t five lengths between them all but Derbaas is tough and has run consistently in Group races. I rode him in a piece of work recently and he went really well.”

Hills’ final two rides are Zanzamar in the Dubai Gold Cup and Entifaadha in the UAE Derby.

The jockey concluded: “Sheikh Hamdan has been fantastic to me. I have ridden horses owned by him since 1982 and my five British classic victories have all been in his colours. I hope to be involved with Shadwell in the future, but now is the right time to step down.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox