Mick Kinane is hoping he can help drum up further interest in the Irish Flat scene after being named Horse Racing Ireland’s Flat Ambassador for 2010.
The County Tipperary-born jockey hung up his riding boots at the end of last season after a career in the saddle spanning 35 years.
Kinane remains the only jockey who can claim wins in all the major European Group One races and can also boast victories in events such as the Belmont Stakes, the Japan Cup, the Hong Kong Cup and the Melbourne Cup.
The 50-year-old decided to go out on a high at the end of 2009 after he partnered wonder horse Sea The Stars to a remarkable six Group One wins in as many months – and is thrilled to have been given the opportunity to promote the sport he loves so much.
“It was just nice to be asked to be the ambassador for Flat racing in Ireland. Racing has been part of my life for 25 years and it’s nice that I can give something back,” said Kinane.
“Hopefully we can convince people that we have a great sport on offer here and there’s a great social scene involved with it.”
National Hunt racing has very much taken the limelight in Ireland down the years, with the likes of Arkle Istabraq and Moscow Flyer capturing the public’s imagination more than the bluebloods of the Flat.
Kinane hopes the exploits of Sea The Stars has turned the tide a little as he bids to encourage more racegoers to go Flat racing.
“The point-to-point scene is very big in rural Ireland so it’s natural enough that there has been more interest in the National Hunt racing as it’s closer to the country life,” Kinane continued.
“We’ve got to go out there and try and get people interested in Flat racing and I’m sure if they come they will be back again.
“I think Sea The Stars helped in that respect last year as he was the people’s horse no matter where he went.
“Whether he was running here in Ireland, in England and even in France, he was everybody’s horse.
“When we get a special horse like that, we all feel as if we are part and parcel of it and that’s great for racing.
“It was great that he won the Irish Champion Stakes last year as it would have been shame if hadn’t raced in Ireland all year, but it worked out perfectly.
“We are in tougher times now, but we’ve got to reach out and show people who maybe aren’t aware that we’ve got a world class product here.”
The man who will try to fill Kinane’s boots is Fran Berry, the newly appointed stable jockey to Kinane’s former boss and the trainer of Sea The Stars, John Oxx.
“I still ride work at John’s twice a week and Fran is a good lad who isn’t afraid of work,” Kinane added.
“He’s doing very well and he won’t let the side down I can assure you.
“Of course I miss riding as the weighing room has been my home for a long time.
“It’s an adjustment I’ve got to make, but I’m happy with the decision I’ve made and I’m still in touch with all the lads.
“It’s good that I’m still riding out for John as it keeps me fit. John is such a great trainer and a great man I just wanted to keep in touch with him.”