I knew last summer that this day would come. If Rathvinden had won the Grand National last month I probably would have bowed out at Aintree as there’s no bigger stage, but Tiger Roll got in the way.
Anyway, Punchestown is home.
I’m not much of a poker player and I didn’t fancy rolling the dice for later in the week, so when Kemboy won the Punchestown Gold Cup earlier, that was it.
There comes a time when you want to do something else and I’ve been a jockey now for 24 years. I’m nearly 40, so this is the time to do something for the next 24 years. At this stage, I’ll stay involved with horses, but I won’t be training any just yet. I’ve my media work and Paddy Power and will hopefully continue to expand on that.
It’s been an amazing career.
I’ve been driven, loved it, enjoyed it all and all the good horses I rode, I loved it all.
When I fell on Al Boum Photo at Cheltenham last year after just about getting back from a broken leg to ride at the meeting I said to myself that this is not the way I’m going to finish – I’ll be back. That was my goal.
To get fit, get back riding and finish in one piece on my own terms.
My win aboard Papillon for my dad Ted in the Aintree Grand National in 2000 was the one thing you could never repeat. But to pick just one out would be unfair.
I was very lucky to ride for two of the greatest trainers in the sport in Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls and to ride a lot of the best horses of my generation.
A jockey is only as good as the horses he rides and I rode superstars, absolute superstars. From Azertyioup to Kauto Star, Big Bucks, Master Minded, Vautour, Annie Power, Faugheen, Hurricane Fly, you name them.
I was so lucky to comes across a golden bunch of horses.
When I rode my first winner at Gowran Park on Siren’s Song I could never have imagined how lucky I’d be. You have a dream and you keep going until it turns into a nightmare. Thankfully it never did.
All I ever wanted was to be a jockey and I did it for 24 years and now it’s time to do something else. I want to do something else and I’m looking forward to doing something different.
I was lucky wasn’t I?