Top Magheramorne-based amateur jockey Steven Crawford has decided to retire from the saddle.
The 27-year-old’s last mount came at Sligo in May where he finished fourth on Carnspindle, which he owns and is trained by his brother, Stuart.
Crawford hit the headlines in 2013 when he won Ireland’s first-ever title at the FEGENTRI World Championships by a massive 46-point margin.
“When I was asked to compete at the start I was just pleased to be involved. Winning it never crossed my mind but at the halfway stage I started to believe I could do it,” he told this newspaper at the time.
Locally he was crowned Sports Performer of the Year at Larne Borough Council’s Sports Awards, seeing off stiff competition from Northern Ireland footballer Gareth McAuley.
Former jockey John Reid, originally from Banbridge, encouraged a young Steven to give racing a shot. The Epsom Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner spotted his potential and at 16 he joined trainer Reg Hollingshead in Birmingham. Reg trained over 1,400 winners in his career and was renowned for producing top riders, including champion jockey Kevin Darley and Derby-winners Walter Swinburn and Will Ryan.
On his return home Crawford began his riding career as an apprentice to trainer Liam Browne and remembers riding out at the Curragh on cold winter mornings.
In 1998 - his first year in racing - he won the Irish Cambridgeshire Lady Oranswell in a field which included household names Pat Eddery and Kieren Fallon. He returned to England where he assisted Jamie Osborne as conditional jockey before linking up with Martin Pipe when he won his first hurdle race in 2003 at Worcester in a Claiming Hurdle on Doucer Des Songes. He then joined Nigel Twiston-Davies and he won the 2005 Class A, Grade 2, Aintree Bumper on The Cool Guy, in a field which included AP McCoy and Ruby Walsh.