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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Drowne keen for one more winner before starting second career

Steve Drowne: bringing the curtain down on a distinguished career
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Steve Drowne is looking forward to leading a normal life and being able to make plans with his wife Clare and his ten-year-old twins after revealing on Friday evening that he will be retiring from the saddle before the turn of the year.

Drowne, who has ridden more than 1,400 winners in a career spanning more than 27 years, including six at the highest level, has no firm plans, but says he has "a few things in the pipeline" and is keen to stay in racing, although in all probability not in the professional work rider role favoured by many of his former colleagues.

The 45-year-old, who admitted to feeling "a bit deflated" the morning after making his announcement on At The Races, said: "Being a jockey is all I've ever done, so it's only natural it feels a bit odd, but it was always coming and I've no regrets.

"There's nothing wrong with my bottle – it's probably better than ever as when you have no big rides to look forward to you aren't afraid of missing anything – but it's been quite tough the last few years, and the year I had off just bottomed me."

That year off was 2012, when Drowne collapsed in his garden and the effects of glandular fever were misdiagnosed as a heart issue. He had his driving licence withdrawn and was not allowed to ride.

He recalls: "I didn't know at the time, but if you are deemed medically unfit to drive, you are automatically deemed unfit to ride. It took four months for the original diagnosis to be corrected, and another four and a half before the DVLA would look at my report, and even then it was only after intervention from my MP Clare Perry, who was brilliant.

Patavellian (right) wins the 2003 Prix de L'Abbaye

"By the time I came back I'd missed a whole turf season and so I hadn't ridden any of the three-year-olds when they were two. Worse was that other people had ridden them, so it was hard getting back on. I was only getting on the slow ones, but I had some fantastic times before then and I've also had great times since.

"The time has come though, and it will just be nice to be able to say to the family, we'll do this or we'll do that, and not have to qualify it by saying 'So long as I'm not in the nine o'clock at Wolverhampton' or something like that."

Drowne's six Group 1 wins include four in Europe's top sprints, with victories in the Prix de l'Abbaye on Patavellian and Avonbridge for Roger Charlton complemented by a July Cup for Hughie Morrison on Sakhee's Secret and more recently a Nunthorpe for Robert Cowell on Jwala.

He also won major sprints on the likes of Harmonic Way and Queen's Logic but reads nothing in particular into it other than that sprints are perhaps easier Group 1s to win as you are less likely to be up against the might of Coolmore, Godolphin or trainers like Sir Michael Stoute.

Sakhee's Secret beats Dutch Art in the 2007 Darley July Cup at Newmarket

His heyday came during the decade or more when he was riding for Charlton, Morrison and Geoff Wragg.

He recalls: "I rode for Hughie for ten years, and for Roger longer. They probably overlapped by eight years or so, and I was also riding for Geoff, so they were good years. It's obviously been tougher lately, but I'd love to ride another winner, especially as the PJA [Professional Jockeys' Association] have me on 1399 in Britain.

"I've probably had a dozen or more in France on top of that, plus quite a few in Switzerland, a couple in Ireland, and a few in Dubai a good while ago, but I only rode one weekend in India and I didn't have any luck in Hong Kong, where I spent a winter with Martin Dwyer and Jamie Spencer when we all felt we were at the top of our game but found it near enough impossible and we didn't ride a single winner between us."

Looking ahead, Drowne said: "I've got a few things in the pipeline, but I've always felt I wanted a second career rather than a second job. I don't want to be an assistant trainer or go riding out for Godolphin, but I'd like to stay in racing – it's what I know and it would be a waste not to make the most of it.

"I'll ride until around Christmas but I won't be riding in 2018."


TRIBUTES

Roger Charlton
I think Steve had his first ride for me in 2000 and i believe he rode more than 230 winners for us, including two Prix de l'Abbayes, a Cambridgeshire, a Stewards Cup and many more good ones. He's such a nice person and I don't think we ever had a cross word. He's had a long and honourable career and I wish him all the best for the future.

Martin Dwyer
Drownie is such a great guy and always ultra professional, one of the most respected jockeys of my generation. I've  been riding against him all my career, and he's always been the sensible one and the organiser of the group. He organised our skiing trips, and if ever anything went wrong he was there. He was always in charge when we were out of school, leading from the front.

Robert Havlin
I've sat next to Steve for about as long as I can remember and he's always been a great mate. As a jockey what stands out is his professionalism and attention to detail. He leaves nothing to chance and always knows exactly what's going on.

Hughie Morrison
Steve and I had some great successes together, the pinnacle being the perfect ride he gave Sakhee's Secret in the July Cup.  There were many more too, including Supaseus and Cill Rialaig at Royal Ascot, and he was a proper thinking jockey – very calm and very helpful in many respects.

Dane O'Neill

I remember us both turning up at Brighton one day for stalls tests as 7-lb claimers and we've grown up together as good friends since. He's got a terrific work and I'm sure that but for a couple of injuries he would still be getting the opportunities he deserves.


STEVE DROWNE IN NUMBERS

3  centuries of domestic winners

6 Group 1 wins

11 Royal Ascot winners

19 winners this year

45 years old 

109 winners in best year

1,400+ career winners around the world

16,622 rides in the UK


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Being a jockey is all I've ever done, so it's only natural it feels a bit odd, but it was always coming and I've no regrets
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