Champion jockey Jamie Spencer performs shock U-turn by shelving retirement plans

  • Jamie Spencer has scrapped plans to retire after riding in Hong Kong mile
  • Jockey had been expected to move into management with Qatar Racing
  • Spencer will ride as a freelance after splitting from Sheik Fahad Al Thani

Dual Champion Flat jockey Jamie Spencer performed one of the most expected U-turns in the world of sport when he scrapped plans to retire.

The 34-year-old’s unplaced effort on Trade Storm in the Hong Kong Mile had meant to be one of the Irish rider’s last race rides.

But he will now continue to compete as a freelance during 2015.

Jamie Spencer (left) confirmed he would not be retiring after riding Trade Storm at the Hong Kong Mile

Jamie Spencer (left) confirmed he would not be retiring after riding Trade Storm at the Hong Kong Mile

Spencer will compete as a freelance after leaving Sheik Fahad Al Thani’s (centre) Qatar Racing

Spencer will compete as a freelance after leaving Sheik Fahad Al Thani’s (centre) Qatar Racing

Spencer surprisingly announced his retirement in August 24 hours before it was confirmed that Andrea Atzeni was to replace him as No 1 jockey to Sheik Fahad Al Thani’s Qatar Racing organisation.

The decision was accompanied with plans that Spencer was to become one of the Sheik’s management team.

But, after initial strenuous denials, Spencer was later to confirm that there had been no elaborate plan and that his initial decision to walk away from riding had been prompted by the hurt and humiliation this complex character felt after being informed he was going to be sacked.

Spencer is looking forward to being 'entirely free'

Spencer is looking forward to being 'entirely free'

Some bookmakers priced up a market that Spencer, who won the 1998 Irish 1,000 Guineas on Tarascon when only 17, would return but some, like Corals, felt the odds would be so short on him changing his mind, it was not worth the ink.

The same firm now make his Breeders’ Cup Classic mount Toast Of New York 5-1 to win the Dubai World Cup in March, a ride which alone must have effected Spencer’s plans.

In a pre-prepared statement, Spencer said: ‘I have discussed at length with Sheik Fahad my decision to carry on riding and he fully understands and supports me.

‘He appreciates racing is what made me happy and the last thing he wants to do is stand in the way of that.

‘I will be riding primarily as a freelance but obviously I have certain links and relationships with trainers that I will be utilising.

‘I am also looking forward to being entirely free for the first time in six seasons and developing new associations.

‘I have no specific target other than to continue to be successful.’

Spencer, who was 2004 champion jockey in Ireland during his one season as stable jockey to Aidan O’Brien, was still riding on the British All-Weather circuit last week, At the time, it hardly seemed the actions of a jockey happy to walk away from the sport. Now we know why.

 

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