'I love him to bits and he's the best judge I've ever known'
After veteran rider Andrew Thornton announced his decision to retire after riding at Uttoxeter on Wednesday, trainers and ex-colleagues paid tribute to one of the enduring figures of the sport
I don't think Andrew and I ever fell out once in all the years he rode for me. What I liked about him was that he was always 100 per cent behind you, and we could always sort things out. There was plenty of give and take and we worked very well together. The Welsh National win on Miko De Beauchene was very special as it was just after my accident and I'm sure he was riding for me on that occasion, somehow compelling him to win for me. The Gold Cup too of course on Cool Dawn – the horse was absolutely at the top of his game, and so was Andrew, kicking off in front and keeping him going brilliantly on ground that had dried out perfectly. I screamed myself hoarse that day! Everyone around at the time will remember that Kingscliff ride too – great horsemanship.
Wishing you all the best @AThorntonRacing. Smashing fella and thanks for all the support over the years!— Jonjo O'Neill (@JonjoONeill) June 4, 2018
Andrew and I go back a very long time and he's ridden me over 100 winners. I love him to bits. He's the best judge I've ever known, and I've used a lot of good lads. He's a great man to get on a young horse on the racecourse and map out its whole career – where it would go and where it would end up, to within a few pounds. If he comes in on one and he's shaking his head then you know it's no good. I don't think we've ever let one go on his advice that's embarrassed me. He's super on the schooling grounds and super with the young jockeys too. He's wonderful with the owners too, and always the first to admit it if he ever gives one a bad ride. Everyone will tell you his work ethic is second to none. As recently as ten days ago he getting up at 3am and driving all the way down from Ripon for first lot. He's the ultimate professional, and a great ambassador for his profession.
Dave Roberts, Thornton's agent
Andrew is the ultimate professional. I've never had a cross word with him and never heard him complain, despite having to drive up and down the country week in, week out, for all those years. Any young jockey setting out should spend a week with him to see what the job entails, as without question they would be far better for it. I've been his agent since he was an amateur and he's a great friend. I've got the utmost respect for him both personally and professionally. Whatever he does now he'll be successful at because he's got the best work ethic possible.
Andrew is a far better rider than a lot of people give him credit for, and he was absolutely superb on French Holly. He rode him first at Ayr when I was stuck for one of my regulars and wanted a top jockey. I told him then that if he won him he could keep the ride, which he did except once at Leopardstown when he was broken up. Cheltenham was the pinnacle obviously, but they won eight times together. I couldn't fault him.
Andrew Thornton retires at @UttoxeterRaces on Wednesday. What a fantastic career and man to boot.— John Hunt (@HuntyCaller) June 4, 2018
Sir Anthony McCoy
Andrew is a great lad. We used to travel a lot together when he lived in Lambourn and we've been good friends for years. People would comment about how he looked on a horse, but if you went round behind him you would very rarely be in the wrong place. He's a great race reader and the perfect example of someone who can achieve at the highest level through sheer hard work and dedication. There were a lot of better jockeys than me who didn't ride as many winners, and the same goes for Andrew. Fair play to him. I've got the greatest respect for him.
Wednesday will mark the end of an era. He's been in the weighing room every day since I started and he's had a fantastic career. His work ethic is second to none, both controlling his weight and travelling anywhere for a ride. You never, ever, hear him moan about having to run the track to lose half a pound or drive the length of the country for just one ride. He stands out as a great role model for any young jockey, showing that if you work hard you can have a great career. We'll make sure he enjoys a great send off.
He rode quite a lot for us down the years and was always a thorough professional. He'd been going a long time and it's good to see he's made it out in one piece. He's a great guy and I wish him all the best. [On See More Business in the 1997 King George] Timmy Murphy was riding See More Business at the time, but he was either injured or banned and Andrew fitted the bill. We wanted someone strong and long-legged and as it happened he got on really well with the horse. He also won on him the only other time he rode him, at Chepstow in the Rehearsal Chase.
Andrew is a sharp bloke and it looks good timing, as he's got a few other things going on now and he's had a fantastic run. He's been a very good friend for a long, long time and is great bloke in every way. He's a fantastic operator, with a great work ethic, and when I'm coaching I use him as an example of someone who has made full use of every ounce of their talent. That's why he's achieved so much.