John Oxx on retirement and the biggest challenge facing trainers

John was a guest on Monday's From The Horse's Mouth podcast

John Oxx November horse breeding stock sale at Goffs 2017

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John Oxx has opened up about his decision to retire at the end of the season and given his view on why being a trainer is so tough in today’s climate.

The Curragh conjuror enjoyed a stellar 41-year career which saw him saddle 33 Group 1 winners, including the legendary Sea The Stars.

Now aged 70, Oxx has decided to call time on his racing odyssey at the end of the current campaign and is looking forward to taking a step back from the limelight.

Speaking about his retirement on the latest episode of Paddy Power’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast, Oxx said: “I’m feeling fine about it – it was an easy enough decision to make and we’re very happy about it, my wife and myself.

“I suppose you don’t want to think too deeply about it, but it’s nice to wind it up and nice to look back. You’d hope you’d sort of be able to retire quietly and not have anybody talking to you, but I’ve learnt a long time ago that you just can’t avoid certain things so we’ve had lots of interviews, but it’s been very nice.

Mick Kinane Christopher Tsui John Oxx Sea The Star Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe 2009

“We’ve been thinking about it for a few years and now is the time, COVID or no COVID. I haven’t got any plan in particular. I’ll be keeping an eye on things, probably from a bit of a distance, and keeping in touch with everybody.

“I’m sure people won’t let me do nothing and I’m sure I’ll get little jobs to do probably from time to time for people and get out and about and hopefully have an excuse to go to the races – and it’ll be nice to just keep in touch with all of the people I know.

Ruby Walsh on favourite John Oxx memory ahead of trainer’s retirement

“It wouldn’t be nice to live like a hermit – I like reading, but I don’t want to read a book every day all the time and never go outside the door. So I’ll enjoy going and meeting all my fellow trainers and jockeys and keep in touch with them and see how they’re getting on. I doubt if I’d want to be terribly busy, but I’m sure I won’t be idle.”

While Sea The Stars’ spectacular 2009 campaign was an undoubted highlight of Oxx’s career, with the Galileo colt winning six Group 1 races in the space of six months, he also experienced enormous success elsewhere.

Sea The Stars Mick Kinane York Juddmonte International 2009

The veteran trainer sent out Sinndar to win the Derby, Irish Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2000 and achieved an impressive double with Alamshar in 2003, winning the Irish Derby and the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Oxx also won the Breeders’ Cup with Ridgewood Pearl and the Gold Cup with Enzeli, and has seen the art of training change dramatically since he started in 1979.

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“I think it’s harder and harder for trainers to run their business and it’s more expensive to keep going,” he said.

“Trainers are up against it a bit more – there’s a lot of competition I suppose too. Some trainers have an awful lot of horses, bigger trainers sweeping up a lot of the horses, but that’s life and that’s the same in every business.

John Oxx November horse breeding stock sale at Goffs 2017

“I think just there are more trainers struggling than ever before because of the difficulties of paying wages and doing everything right, having to comply with all the things we have to comply with and then the level of competition, it’s difficult for people to deal with.

“That’s the main difference I think – life was a bit easier before for everybody.”

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