Veteran rider Thornton finally joins elite club on fortunate Myth
Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning rider Andrew Thornton finally completed his long and winding road to 1,000 winners at Wincanton on Boxing Day, with his landmark success arriving in the most fortunate of circumstances.
After the comfortable victory of the Seamus Mullins-trained Somchine in the 1m7½f handicap chase, stablemate Kentford Myth benefited from the falls of two of her three rivals in the mares' novice chase, enabling her jockey to join the 1,000 winners club.
Kentford Myth was left with her race at her mercy after the early departure of odds-on favourite Desert Queen and the third-last fall of second favourite and clear leader Antartica De Thaix.
Thornton attempted a Frankie Dettori-style flying dismount after that victory but the 44-year-old had seemingly badly twisted his knee before he launched himself into orbit and was subsequently forced to give up his remaining two rides on the card.
Not even the sight of many of his weighing-room colleagues in the paddock to cheer him could put a smile on the veteran rider's face as, grimacing with pain, he managed to weigh in before limping painfully into the medical room.
After treatment from the racecourse medics, Thornton told the Racing Post: “It’s been a long and enjoyable road from starting off with legendary Bishop Auckland trainer Arthur Stephenson in 1990, through to Robert Alner, for whom I won the Gold Cup on Cool Dawn in 1998, and now Seamus Mullins, who has got me over the line and been a massive supporter.
“I’ve got the 1,000 winners and done my knee in – how ironic. But seriously, I have enjoyed the journey since my first ride on a horse called Brave Ruler at Kelso."
He continued: "It has been talked about whether I should call it a day now that I've got there. But it’s very difficult to give up something you still really enjoy, and that's what I'll be doing if I go.
"I won't be riding for a couple of days and that'll give me plenty of time to reflect and make up my mind about what the future holds.”
In the race following Kentford Myth's success, Thornton had been due to ride Dawson City and his knee injury might have been a blessing in disguise as that race, the Lord Stalbridge Memorial Chase, was marred by a calamitous pile-up at the sixth, which involved eight horse including Dawson City and was declared void after none of the ten runners finished.
Thornton said: “Was somebody up there trying to tell me something? It’s something I have to think about and, make no mistake, I will be doing just that.
“I've been considered a veteran rider since I was 32 and I must admit the older you get, the harder it is to get rides. But I've soldiered on and got to where I wanted to. It’s just a case of weighing everything up and getting it right.”
ANDREW THORNTON IN NUMBERS
1,000 career wins
86 wins in best season
44 his age
26 wins when champion amateur
24 jump jockeys who have won 1,000 races
14 rides in Grand National (best placing: 4th)
8 wins on French Holly
4 wins on Cool Dawn
4 Lester Awards
3 Cheltenham Festival wins
Winningmost jump jockeys in Britain and Ireland
Wins Jockey (first/last win)
4348 Sir Anthony McCoy (1994-2015)
3187 Richard Johnson (1994-)
2587 Ruby Walsh (1995-)
1874 Richard Dunwoody (1983-99)
1746 Barry Geraghty (1997-)
1692 Peter Scudamore (1978-96)
1589 Paul Carberry (1992-2015)
1311 Mick Fitzgerald (1988-2008)
1250 Timmy Murphy (1993-)
1249 Charlie Swan (1985-2003)
1243 Norman Williamson (1988-2004)
1170 Tony Dobbin (1991-2008)
1168 Davy Russell (1999-)
1140 John Francome (1970-85)
1132 Noel Fehily (1998-)
1123 Robert Thornton (1995-2014)
1083 Adrian Maguire (1990-2002)
1067 Tom Scudamore (1998-)
1067 Jason Maguire (1996-2015)
1044 Stan Mellor (1954-72)
1017 Paddy Brennan (2000-)
1004 Peter Niven (1984-2001)
1003 Graham Lee (1992-)
1000 Andrew Thornton (1991-)
Wins over jumps in GB and Ireland only