Pat Eddery, the second most successful British jockey ever, announced today that he is retiring at the end of the 2003 season.
The 51-year-old, 11-times British champion jockey, revealed his intentions at a press conference at Windsor racecourse.
Eddery will take up the job of managing director of a racehorse syndication company next year. "I'm 51 now and it's difficult to keep on the best horses. The time has come to say that's it. I cannot go on forever," he said.
Born in Ireland, he came to England in 1967 and was apprenticed to Frenchie Nicholson, being champion apprentice in 1971, three years after riding his first winner.
He won 14 British classics, including three Epsom Derbys--Grundy (1975), Golden Fleece (1982), and Quest For Fame (1990)--and had 11 Irish classic wins.
There were 73 successes at Royal Ascot, more than double any other current jockey, though none came his way last week. One of his most memorable triumphs was in the 1975 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes (Eng-I) on Grundy, who got the better of a thrilling battle with the Joe Mercer-ridden Bustino at Ascot.
Four victories (1980 Detroit, 1985 Rainbow Quest, 1986 Dancing Brave, and 1987 Trempolino), came in the group I Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp while victory at the Breeders' Cup came through Pebbles (1985 Turf, gr. I) and Sheikh Albadou (1991 Sprint, gr. I).
Eddery demonstrated he retained his prowess earlier this month when he gave outsider The Great Gatsby an inspired ride to finish second in the Epsom Derby. He has had over 100 winners in a season on 27 occasions; Lester Piggott managed that feat 25 times.
The jockey had been talking about trying to beat Gordon Richards' British record of 4,870 winners but that would have meant continuing to compete until the 2005 season.
On June 21, 2002, at Goodwood, Eddery had his 4,494th winner, overtaking Piggott's total and putting him in second place behind Richards. A year and a day later he had amassed 4,585 successes.
He was retained three times, first from 1973 to 1980 by trainer Peter Walwyn, then 1981 to 1986 by owner Robert Sangster, who had most of his horses then with Ireland's Vincent O'Brien, and finally between 1987 and 1994 by owner Khalid Abdullah.
His main support as a freelancer in recent years has come from trainer John Dunlop who said: "I'm very sad, because I still thought he had a chance of beating Gordon's all-time record for number of winners, but I suppose he felt the winners were drying up slightly compared to the past.
"He rode his first winner for me 30 years ago this year and he's been the same man with the same wonderful manners and wonderful enthusiasm over all those years. He rode two Leger winners for us and just missed out on a Derby."