Andrew McNamara calls time on riding career

Jockey Andrew McNamara has announced he is to retire from the saddle at the age of 32.

Andrew McNamara calls time on riding career

A 15-times Grade One-winning rider, the County Limerick pilot famously enjoyed victory in the Queen Mother Champion Chase when Newmill scored for John Joseph Murphy at Cheltenham in 2006.

Other big wins came on the likes of Beef Or Salmon, Sizing Europe and Hidden Cyclone and he exits the scene having been associated with some of the best and most popular horses around throughout his 16-year career.

McNamara, who will ride for the last time at Tramore this weekend, said: “I’d wanted to go out winning the Galway Hurdle on Hidden Cyclone, but I couldn’t do the weight.

“I’m renting some stables at Dot Love’s yard, she is pre-training all the Gigginstown horses so the facilities are second to none. In that respect I’ll be better off than if I was starting off somewhere else on my own.

“I bought four horses recently, but I imagine the first few years will be spent buying and selling until I get some owners.”

Looking back on some of the best days of his career, McNamara said: “Newmill, on his day, was a great horse but he only had a few when he was right at his best. Winning a Champion Chase was a great thrill.

“I only got on Beef Or Salmon in the twilight of his career, but the days he beat War Of Attrition and The Listener he got a great reception walking back in.

“I won Grade Ones on Catch Me, and Sizing Europe was obviously an exceptional horse, winning the Irish Champion Hurdle on him was up there with a Queen Mother on Newmill. He would have won the English Champion, too, if his back hadn’t gone.

“I’ve absolutely loved it, growing up I thought I’d be too big and heavy to be a jockey, but I’ve lived my dream.”

The brother of Robbie McNamara and cousin of JT McNamara, who have both suffered serious injuries in recent years, McNamara was keen to stress a problem with his back and constant battle with the scales had more influence on his decision.

He said: “People might think that I am retiring due to my brother Robbie’s and my cousin JT McNamara’s injuries but I have had back trouble plaguing me and between my height and keeping my weight right I am now moving on to what I always wanted to do – training.”

Shark Hanlon, trainer of Hidden Cyclone, has no doubt McNamara will make a success of his new profession.

“He’s got the brains, he’s one of those that would be a success at whatever he does,” said Hanlon.

“I kind of expected it, to be honest, and if it wasn’t for Hidden Cylone it might have been sooner.

“It’s been a tough time for his family. When you see your brother get paralysed it’s hard getting up on a horse every day.

“He rides one for me tomorrow, (Most Honourable, 7.25 Tramore) and I really hope he goes out on a winner.

“He’s been very helpful to me, always just at the other end of a phone and would come in when I wanted him.

“I love his family and if I can help him in any way I will.”

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