Mick Kinane, whose profile has never been higher thanks to his stunningly successful partnership with Cartier Award winner Sea The Stars, has followed that brilliant colt into retirement, according to the Racing Post.
The 50-year-old jockey rebuffed questions on his future that inevitably arose when Sea The Stars signed off his dazzling career by winning his final race, the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) at Longchamp in October.
The highly celebrated rider said at the time he wanted to fulfill commitments in South Africa and Japan, both of which are now gone, before entering into any decision about retirement, which has now been taken.
In a statement released to the Press Association, Kinane, who was named Flat Jockey of the Year at the Horserace Writers' and Photographers' Association awards Dec. 7, said: "I have decided this is the right time to retire from race riding.
"At 50, I still feel fit and sharp enough to do any horse justice but, after the season I have just had in partnership with Sea The Stars, I have the privilege of being able to end my career as a jockey on an incredible high and that's what I want to do.
"I leave with a huge sense of gratitude to all the great horses I have ridden, all the great trainers whose genius developed those champions and everybody else in racing, from the stable lads to the owners, who have made me deeply thankful for my involvement in the game.”
Kinane, who will still ride out for trainer John Oxx for the time being, added: "Teamwork is the key to success in racing and I have been blessed with some of the best alliances a jockey could have.
"The most important support of all throughout my career has, naturally, come from my wife, Catherine, along with my family and friends. Both Catherine and our two precious daughters, Sinead and Aisling, know how much they mean to me."
Sea The Stars provided Kinane with the perfect end to a glittering career that yielded numerous group I triumphs.
He won 10 English classics: the Epsom Derby with Commander In Chief (1993), Galileo (’01), and Sea The Stars; the Epsom Oaks with Shahtoush (’98) and Imagine (’01); the Two Thousand Guineas with Tirol (’90), Entrepreneur (’97), King of Kings (’98), and Sea The Stars; and the St. Leger with Milan (’01).
Domestically, Kinane was also highly successful, winning 14 Irish classics as well as a record seven Irish Champion Stakes. He was the leading rider in Ireland 13 times and was the leading rider.
Kinane's talent was not restricted to Britain and Ireland. Kinane can count three Prix de l'Arc de Triomphes, a Melbourne Cup (Aust-I), a Belmont Stakes (gr. I), and three victories at the Breeders Cup. His Belmont score came on Go and Go in 1990.
Kinane won the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) on Johannesburg. He rode High Chaparral to victory in the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) and was aboard that horse the following year in a dead-headed win with Johar in the Turf.
The son of Tommy Kinane, a leading jump jockey who won on Monksfield in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, England, he was born in County Tipperary, Ireland, June 22, 1959.
His apprenticeship was with trainer Liam Browne. The first winner came on his first ride when Muscari scored at Leopardstown on March 19, 1975 and his initial classic victory came on the same trainer’s Dara Monarch in the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) in 1982.
He switched to be trainer Dermot Weld’s number one jockey in late 1983 and enjoyed 14 years of great success.
He turned down an offer from Sheikh Mohammed to be the owner’s retained rider in 1992, preferring to stay in Ireland.
Kinane joined Coolmore operation in 1998, winning 58 group/grade I victories for trainer Aidan O'Brien in just five years.
He left that job in late 2003 and soon teamed up with John Oxx who paid tribute: "Michael Kinane was just the complete professional in every way.
“Not only was he a top jockey with great skill and determination, but he always conducted himself perfectly. He had a great work ethic and he never let anybody down. There has been nobody with higher standards in terms of professionalism. It was not just at the races but also helping us trainers. He had total commitment.
“It was his absolute nerve for the big occasion, his calm confidence in himself and the horse plus his experience. We never discussed tactics and I went to the races waiting for it to happen.
“You couldn't have predicted it or planned it, but it has been great for him to have had the best horse he ever rode in the final year of his career. It's the sort of end that he deserves.”
Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said today: “Michael is without doubt the best jockey that this country has produced.
“Michael changed the way in which Irish riders, and indeed Irish racing, were perceived worldwide and showed that Irish riders can more than hold their own internationally."
Mark Popham contributed to this article.