Grand National-winning jockey Ryan Mania has announced his surprise retirement from the saddle.
The Scot rocketed to prominence when winning the Aintree spectacular in 2013 on the Sue Smith-trained Auroras Encore, landing the world’s greatest steeplechase at odds of 66-1.
Just 24 hours later, Mania came down to earth with a bump when airlifted to hospital following a crashing fall at Hexham, suffering a neck injury.
His biggest win since Auroras Encore came on the Sandy Thomson-trained Seeyouatmidnight back at Aintree this April.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Mania, 25, revealed an ongoing battle with his weight as the main reason for his decision to hang up his riding boots.
The Galashiels rider said: “I’ve been thinking about this since the summer and I always thought that it was going to be my last season. Of course I am sad that I am stopping, but it has been at the back of my mind for some time. I thought I’d be able to carry on until Christmas, but my mind is made up. People don’t always see the sacrifices that jockeys have to make if they’re to make the weight, and also the travelling and the time away from your family.”
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Mania has taken a previous sabbatical, in 2011, but he added: “I’m not being fair to myself if I carry on being miserable; this is different to last time when I always knew I would come back riding at some point.
“I rode four winners the other week and I just didn’t get that kick out of winning.”
Meanwhile, top trainer Lady Herries, who enjoyed famous victories with Celtic Swing and Sheriff’s Star, has died, aged 76.
Based at Angmering Park, in West Sussex, Lady Herries was renowned as a fine judge of equine talent and was married to the late England cricket star Colin Cowdrey, who died in 2000. She leaves three sisters.
She enjoyed her first success at the highest level with the grey Sheriff’s Star in the 1989 Coronation Cup at Epsom and won the 1998 Caulfield Cup in Australia with Taufan’s Melody. Lady Herries will, however, perhaps be best remembered by the exploits of Celtic Swing.
Owned by Peter Savill, the colt was a devastating winner of the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in 1994, slamming Annus Mirabilis by 12 lengths in what remains one of the great performances by a two-year-old. On just his second start as a youngster he was eight lengths too good for Singspiel at Ascot. He went on to be beaten a head by Pennekamp in the 2000 Guineas the following season before winning the French Derby, running at Chantilly in preference to Epsom.
Savill said: “I only found out she had been ill for some time on Monday, so it’s a very sad day. She was a wonderful lady and I spent many happy days with her and Colin Cowdrey. She trained two Group 1 winners for me, which in itself was a fine achievement.
“Celtic Swing wouldn’t have achieved all he had done without Lady Herries.”
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