Injuries finally take their toll as Fenton ends riding career
HIS body is held together with metal rods, pins, screws and everything bar super glue, but the most painful break of them all for Barry Fenton came on Sunday, when the injury-ravaged jump jockey announced his retirement.
It was an emotional moment for the 31-year-old, who had a tear or two down his cheeks shortly after taking the microphone at trainer Emma Lavelle's owners' open day in Hampshire.
The strain of the occasion was obvious to his audience as Fenton fell silent after saying: "I just wanted to thank everyone. Last November I broke a leg for a fifth time. My body has taken a fair old battering."
Later, a more composed Fenton said: "My surgeon told me there was no reason why I shouldn't return to raceriding, and when I was schooling over fences the other day I thought I was riding as well as ever.
"But when I told myself, ‘Yes, I'll give it another go', I thought of those five occasions I've been stretched out at the back of a fence with a broken leg, saying to myself, ‘Here I go again, another six months on the sidelines'."
He added: "I know in the coming months there will be occasions when I'll regret this decision, but I must be realistic and face up to the fact that my body is telling me it can't take any more.
"The latest break to my left tibia and fibula took longer to mend than I'd anticipated."
Apart from being Lavelle's partner, Fenton is also assistant trainer at the yard at Hatherden, near Andover.
He added: "We're getting really busy here now with more horses, and that also influenced my decision."
Apart from the fractured legs, his injuries have included breaks to ankles, ribs, sternum, three right collarbones,three left collarbones, nose (twice), eye socket and shoulder blade. He also required 38 stitches to an ear.
Fenton's wins included a Welsh National, Whitbread Gold Cup and Great Yorkshire Chase, but he considers one of his finest rides came on Top Cees in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
"Jack Ramsden told me to drop him in and deliver him with one run going to the final flight," recalled Fenton.
"I was last for the first circuit, but coming to the final jump we faced a wall of horses. Suddenly a gap opened and we were gone."
He added: "I just wanted to thank all the people who have helped me along the way and given me the all-important chance to get going again after my injuries."
Fenton said Jack Doyle is likely to now take the majority of rides for the yard.