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Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Devastated trainer opts for career change after loss of stable star

Simon Hodgson: "I once went 18 months without a winner and this game's not easy"
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Simon Hodgson, who has sent out a handful of winners since 2012, has become the latest casualty from the training ranks, but is proud to have bowed out of a 35-year career in the sport on his terms.

Hodgson, who was based in Queen Camel near Yeovil, started as an apprentice on the Flat with Charlie Booth in North Yorkshire in 1982 and rode a winner from his first ever mount when Barrie Baby struck at York two years later.

Weight problems meant Hodgson moved south to link up with Toby Balding in 1987, and 35 winners from around 350 rides followed in seven seasons with the successful jumps trainer.

The 50-year-old then had spells working for Ken Cunningham-Brown and Emma Lavelle before setting up on his own.

He enjoyed his first double at Wincanton in March, but suffered a blow when Quality Art died at Chelmsford in April.

'Losing him was devastating'

"It's been a very tough four and a half years," said Hodgson. "I once went 18 months without a winner and this game's not easy.

"The highlight – although I had a double at Wincanton, which was my local track – was the resurgence of Quality Art, getting him back from two years without winning and lots of problems to win at Wolverhampton in March.

"I thought here we go again and we ran him three weeks later and he collapsed and died of a heart attack. I've been in racing a long time, but that was devastating and I still think about it – it was a real blow to lose a stable star like that.

"I've got two children and had got my head in front so thought it was time for a change. It's not getting any easier owners-wise and I thought if I'm going to end it I want to do it on my terms."

Hodgson, whose horses have been relocated to Seamus Mullins, Neil Mulholland and David Loughnane, among others, while Sgt Reckless has returned to Mick Channon, has already found new employment, which will help him spend more time with his family.

'I've got three days off – I'll enjoy myself for a change'

"I've been there only a week, but I'm in charge of the transport of lorries at a recycling firm in Andover," he added. "It's something completely different – I work Monday to Friday and I've got three days off with the bank holiday this weekend, so I'll enjoy myself for a change."

Hodgson is unlikely to return to racing but enjoyed his time in the industry and was thrilled to have found a job for his only full-time employee Harriet Godfrey with Somerset trainer Malcolm Saunders.

The now-former trainer, who was also keen to highlight Mitch Bastyan as a jockey to follow, added: "Unless I won the lottery I don't think I'd come back. You need a backer to ease everything. I was still riding out and mucking out. We kept a tight ship and we've come out not owing anyone any money.

"It's been fantastic though and I have met some great people on the way. My first boss, Charlie Booth, I spoke to him only yesterday; you make friends for life and can go racing and bump into 30 people you know."

I thought here we go again and we ran him three weeks later and he collapsed and died of a heart attack

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