Robert Thornton calls time on distinguished career

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Leading jumps jockey Robert Thornton has announced his retirement from the saddle due to injury.

Thornton, 37, has not ridden competitively since suffering fractured vertebrae in a fall from Say When at Chepstow in April 2014.

The multiple Grade One-winning rider had been hoping to make a comeback after undergoing significant physiotherapy at Oaksey House, the Injured Jockeys Fund rehabilitation centre.

But British Horseracing Authority chief medical advisor Dr Jerry Hill confirmed the complications as a result of his injuries have forced Thornton into retirement with immediate effect.

The jockey said in a statement: “Whilst I’ve always hoped to return, following recent specialist reports and having met with Dr Hill from the BHA, due to ongoing issues with my neck and upper limbs I have no choice but to retire.

“I’ve missed the camaraderie of the weighing room and will continue to do so.

“I’m sad to be retiring, but I’ve had a career I can look back on with pride and have an exciting job with Paul Dunkley (racehorse owner and breeder) that I can look forward to. I also have a son I adore and am at least retiring in one piece.

“I will of course use JETS (Jockeys Employment & Training Scheme) as I develop my career out of the saddle.”

“There are many people I’d like to thank, but I’d like to thank all the trainers and owners who have supported me over the years, in particular Alan King and his owners, who’ve been incredibly supportive especially the last four or five years when I had a rotten run of luck with injuries.

“I’d also like to thank the team at Oaksey House, and in particular Daloni Lucas, as well as Jerry Hill at the BHA, who’s been first class throughout.”

Affectionately known as ‘Choc’, Thornton was crowned top rider at the Cheltenham Festival in 2007, steering My Way De Solzen to glory in the Arkle and Katchit to success in the Triumph Hurdle.

Voy Por Ustedes added a further keynote triumph in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, with Andreas making it a memorable few days for the Darlington-born rider in the Grand Annual.

Thornton enjoyed a tremendous relationship with the diminutive Katchit, winning at Aintree that same season before claiming the Champion Hurdle the following year.

He began life in the saddle attached to the late David Nicholson and was crowned champion amateur in 1997 and champion conditional the following season.

After Nicholson retired in 1999, Thornton went on to form an enduring partnership at Barbury Castle with Alan King, the trainer of My Way De Solzen, Katchit and Voy Por Ustedes.

Thornton joined the elite of jumps jockeys when reaching 1,000 winners on Araldur at Towcester in March 2011.

Allied to injury, big-race opportunities became scarce toward the end of his career, with Wayne Hutchinson sharing number one duties for King.

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