x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Walter Swinburn forced to end trainer career

A lack of horses meant the former jockey, turned trainer was forced to end his career.

The advice of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, gave Walter Swinburn in 2004 when he announced his retirement as a jockey proved prophetic after Swinburn this week announced he had been forced to call it a day because of a lack of horses.

Swinburn said yesterday he still has not given up hope of resuming his training career, but the conversation he had with Sheikh Mohammed, the founder of the Godolphin operation, is starting to ring true.

"He looked at me and said 'But jockeys don't make good trainers', and he wasn't the first one to say it to me, in fact," Swinburn said in 2004. "And later he did tell me that he'd been joking. But it makes you think, doesn't it?"

Swinburn, who rode the Maktoum family-owned colt Lammtarra to victory in the Epson Derby in 1995, told the UK's Channel 4 show The Morning Line "it (giving up the stables) wasn't an east decision" yet he "wouldn't rule out a return".

"After all I suffered a life-threatening accident in Hong Kong, and came back from that," added Swinburn, referring to the multiple skull fractures he suffered in 1996 at Sha Tin when his mount went through the rails.

Swinburn, 50, who had a rare highlight as a trainer at Royal Ascot in June when Julienas won the Royal Hunt Cup, said the writing had been on the wall for some time.

"My father-in-law Peter [Harris] had 60 horses when I took over from him," said Swinburn. "But his decision to have a dispersal sale last year didn't help and the October 31 deadline is approaching too quickly to fill the boxes. A number of owners have asked me to offload their horses since I announced my decision, but I still have got some nice horses including some sprinters."

Swinburn won most of the major races round the world including the career-defining victory on Shergar in an astonishing Epsom Derby race 30 years.