Popular Galway jockey Ian McCarthy has opened up about the joy his winners brought to him over the course of his career, after announcing his retirement from the saddle yesterday.
McCarthy finished tenth in the opening maiden hurdle on Hanoi Jane at the Galway Races in his final race, and he joined Neil Treacy and Johnny Ward on Friday Night Racing this afternoon.
McCarthy said he was under no illusions about his retirement news being dwarfed by a certain Galway hurling legend who is also stepping away from his sport.
"It was a nice way to go out - yesterday was a great day. One of the journalists from The Connacht Tribune actually said it to me yesterday, I said 'If you give me the front page, you can put big Joe [Canning] on the back page!
"Funnily enough, I actually played for Gort Community School, the juvenile club, when I was in school and I actually played against Joe in Portumna one day in a schools match.
"It's the end of an era. He's been a superstar, he's been some revelation for Galway hurling. He's been a leader for so long."
The south Galway man said the idea of ending his career as a jockey has been swirling around in his plans for some time.
"It's been probably going through my head for a while. I'm running a business at home and I have 25 or 30 horses in my care. I've a young family, I've two little girls and a wife.
"I had a great career and I enjoyed every single minute of it. Still to the ride yesterday, I loved it and got some kick out of it.
— Horse Racing Ireland (@HRIRacing) July 29, 2021
"But being realistic, I was a journeyman jockey. I had to work for what I got I got, I probably had nobody behind me, and you see in the weigh room the amount of good riders that are there and struggling to make a living out of it. You just do it for the love of it, don't you?"
McCarthy said it's impossible to pick favourites from his 90-odd winners, and is just delighted they are all significant and special moments for him to look back on.
"[There's] the small owner and you're riding a winner in Roscommon, you're riding a winner in Sligo for small owners and small syndicates, to riding winners at the Galway Festivals.
"I go through them in my head and they all bring back memories for me. My first winner for Dessie Hughes... all the way along I think to Mick Winters I think I rode my last winner for.
"Great characters, great owners, and as I said yesterday, [there's] a story behind every one of them - plenty of great memories."