The Jockey's Journal: ‘Horse man’ Andrew McNamara has made the right decision to retire
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The Jockey's Journal: ‘Horse man’ Andrew McNamara has made the right decision to retire

IRISH jump jockey Andrew McNamara ended his riding career with a victory in his final race at Tramore on Sunday.

Andrew is an absolute gentleman and has retired at the relatively young age of 32. I’d be a little bit older than him so I started off a few years before him back in Ireland.

He comes from a great family who have a great tradition of jump racing. I imagine he’s been finding it tough because he’d been getting injured a lot.

Andrew has always struggled with his weight a little bit but he’s always maintained it very well to be fair to him, but over the last three or four seasons it’s been getting harder and tighter.

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In Ireland, if you look down the spectrum, there’s a lot of young lads coming through and they’ve been getting a lot of rides, so the likes of Andrew have had to take a bit of a sidestep really. He was a very good jockey though and rode a lot of moderate horses but rode them well and I suppose he’s had enough of looming after his weight, so now he can focus on becoming a trainer.

I think, realistically, he’s done the right thing. The sooner he starts the training the sooner he’ll find it easier, but I definitely think he’s got it in him to be a really good one. Andrew is what we call a ‘horse man’ – he is a jockey by trade but there’s a difference between a jockey and a ‘horse man’ – they understand the horses better.

It’s a great skill to get a horse to run well for you and Andy was always running on moderate horses, but he always managed to get the best out of them. He reminds me a little of Richard Hughes. I don’t know Richard personally, but I can tell from the way he speaks that he’s a ‘horse man’, as well as a top jockey. But Andy has all the right attributes to train winners.

As for me, I’m still out in Deauville racing and I absolutely love it, it’s amazing here. You get all sorts of racing people. We have Chinese, Indian, people from Hong Kong and all over Asia, but we also have Irish, Australian and all sorts.

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It’s just an unbelievable place, especially in August, when it seems as though a big racing circus comes to town. I’m excited for the week ahead and I recommend it to any racing fan who fancies a getaway this time next year.

I’ve been out here a lot this summer, getting a lot of rides for Jo Hughes. Me and Jo have started out on the right foot – I’d been doing a few bits for her back in England before we came out here to France and we’ve had a bit of luck here too.

It’s a relationship that we’ve only built this year, but Jo and her partner Paul – who used to be a jump jockey and now he trains – has been there and done it. He’s trained all sorts of winners, so it’s great experience for me to be working with these people.

They’re the type of people that like to talk about tactics and plans for the horse and the rider, so I’ve been learning a lot from them and it feels as though they have my best interests at heart too. You can only build on a relationship like that.