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Battle with AP McCoy was my highlight, reveals Maguire

By Frank Brownlow

Jason Maguire has confessed that finishing runner-up to Ulster legend AP McCoy in the 2012-13 jockeys' title race was his career highlight - rather than the 2011 Grand National triumph on Ballabriggs.

Maguire yesterday announced his retirement from the saddle, although he will continue to work in the sport.

Maguire said: "Finishing second to AP was a highlight, that was a great year. Just after that you think you might be champion one day, but it's not to be.

"I had a great partnership with (trainer) Donald McCain and won a Grand National with him on Ballabriggs."

On his retirement, the 36-year-old Meathman said: "For the last three months I've been trying to come to terms with it.

"I went to see a specialist in London a couple of weeks ago and that was the final nail. It's dangerous enough without doing it when you are not 100 per cent."

Maguire had not ridden competitively since February 2015, after a fall at Musselburgh.

Prior to that he suffered life-threatening injuries on the eve of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival at Stratford.

Maguire underwent surgery in April 2015 for slipped discs in his back and while he has been riding out for the likes of Kim Bailey and Tom George, he was often left with pain in his leg.

McCoy (below) paid tribute to Maguire, labelling him as one of the toughest competitors in the weighing room.

The Moneyglass rider, who retired aged 40 last April after a 20th sucessive title, said: "It's something he's been suffering with for some time, pretty much since the Stratford fall.

"I know that was not his back, but it deteriorated from there.

"For the last six months he was riding in unbelievable pain, he was having to travel to the races lying down in the back of cars it was hurting so much.

"People don't realise a lot of the times what the lads are going through just to get to the races.

"He was an unbelievably tough competitor and, if anything, he was getting better with age.

"I always judged myself by numbers and his numbers were on the up, he was at a point in his life where statistics showed he was getting better.

"It must be tough being forced to retire, I was able to make the decision myself, but he will be a huge asset to (owners) Paul and Clare Rooney because he has a great knowledge of the game."

Having been first-choice jockey for the Rooneys, during his time off Maguire had acted as their racing manager and will continue that role full-time.

"It wasn't a hard decision. I suppose it's good in a way the decision was made for me," said Maguire.

"I've had three operations already on my back and to be honest it's probably getting worse.

"I remember schooling at (Jonjo O'Neill's) Jackdaws a couple of months ago and telling AP that I couldn't feel anything in my right leg.

"People are probably tired of seeing if I was going to come back, but I had to give it every chance, physically and mentally.

"I still find it hard not riding. It's a sad day, but I've a great opportunity managing the Rooney horses."

Belfast Telegraph

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