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Thornton's 1,000 quest boosted by seven rides

Andrew Thornton: seven rides at Wincanton on Boxing Day
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Andrew Thornton is hoping that his last Boxing Day in the saddle will be one to remember as the jockey, who is two short of his ambition to partner 1,000 winners, has picked up seven rides at Wincanton.

After more than 25 years riding, Thornton, 44, is not taking having another winner or two for granted, despite his rare full book, which starts with the Mick Channon-trained hurdling debutant Vive Ma Fille.

"I'll take it hurdle by hurdle and fence by fence and not get ahead of myself, but Seamus [Mullins] had three horses for me to ride," said Thornton.

"I've ridden for Mick a few times, and Paul [Nicholls] said he'd give me a helping hand."

There is a touch of irony and a sense of coming full circle about Thornton landing the ride on The Eaglehaslanded for Nicholls. 

Thornton explained: "When I was 14 or 15 with Arthur Stephenson I was known as Eddie The Eagle as I didn't have contact lenses in those days and wore glasses.

"I was throwing a leg across a horse, Great Law, who was 17.2hh when he bolted and we flattened a post and rails, but I clung on until he put his head down and I went flying. I walked back and the head lad just said, 'Oh well, the Eagle has landed!'"

Thornton will not want a repeat of three years ago when he was due to take a strong book of rides at Ffos Las only for the meeting to be cancelled. However, he would not mind seeing a bit of rain to help out a couple of his mounts. "It can't be soft enough for Somchine and Dawson City," he said. 

Thornton will again have to stint on the family Christmas celebrations as he has to ride at 10st 10lb. But he added: "This will be my last Boxing Day and will be my last season riding, so there's an irony that I'll miss it when I can eat as much as I want."

Another jockey hoping for a good Boxing Day at Wincanton is Colin Tizzard's conditional Paul O'Brien, who often rides out Thistlecrack but will be watching the King George from afar.

The 5lb claimer has four rides for Tizzard, plus one for Richenda Ford, and bids to add to his career tally of 25 winners.

O'Brien said: "I'm hoping to have a good day and am looking forward to it as they all have good chances."

This will be my last Boxing Day and will be my last season riding, so there's an irony that I'll miss it when I can eat as much as I want

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Andrew Thornton
E.W. Terms