Andy ends career on a winner

Andy Mac celebrates winning the Down Royal Festival Champion Chase on the British trained The Listener in 2009
Andy Mac celebrates winning the Down Royal Festival Champion Chase on the British trained The Listener in 2009

Top jockey Andrew McNamara ended his riding career at Tramore on Friday night with a winner to bookend his tally of success having registered his first success at the course.

He had told trainer Shark Hanlon his intentions and the trainer replied: “Hold on a couple of weeks and I’ll have a winner for you at Tramore to finish.”

Full credit to the “Shark” as Most Honourable claimed the handicap hurdle in a battling finish to the delight of connections and the crowd and an excellent piece of training and placing with Hanlon having only bought the horse for £600 at Ascot Sales eight weeks previous.

Hanlon advised: “Andrew gave me my first winner which also cost £600 so I’m absolutely delighted.”

Andrew McNamara is a fifteen times Grade 1 winning National Hunt jockey and will start a training career later in the year.

The County Limerick jockey’s career has spanned 16 years. Andrew had his first ride on his father’s (Andrew McNamara Snr) Nicholl Lady in May 2000 in a bumper at Killarney and went on to ride his first winner, La Captive in a bumper at Wexford in July 2002 also trained by his father.

Included in the 500 winners were fifteen Grade 1 wins which saw the popular rider twice land the Down Royal Festival feature – the Champion Chase on Beef Or Salmon [2004] and The Listener [2009].

Cheltenham Festival success came in the 2006 Cheltenham Champion Chase on Newmill while other major triumphs included the Irish Gold Cup [2007] on Beef Or Salmon, the Irish Champion Hurdle [2008] on Sizing Europe and the Irish Grand National [2010] on Bluesea Cracker.

McNamara also won the Galway Plate in 2009 on the locally owned, Ballyholland trained at Crossgar by Colin McBratney.

At six feet, Andy Mac was one of the tallest jockeys in the weigh room and he revealed his decision is due to ongoing back trouble and that he has been advised to retire from race riding.

Andrew plans to do the Turf Club trainers course in September and will continue working as a presenter for RTÉ Racing and as secretary of the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund.

Andrew is looking forward to the next phase of his career stating: “I consider myself very privileged in my career. I left college to pursue my childhood dream as a jockey and have ridden just under 500 winners. Horse racing is my way of life and I am looking forward to moving on to the next phase, training racehorses.

“The plan is to do the trainers course in September. I have been buying and selling a few horses in the last few years and am looking forward to running and selling them on – I really enjoy that aspect of the industry. Together with my wife Rhona, I have been busy throughout the summer at the sales and have bought some nice horses and am looking forward to the future with them.”

Andrew McNamara went on to say: “People might think that I am retiring due to my brother Robbie’s and my cousin JT McNamara’s injuries but I have had back trouble plaguing me and between my height and keeping my weight right I am now moving on to what I always wanted to do – training.”

Further success is assured in his new career for the highly respected and articulate rider.