Evergreen Kinane still living life in the fast lane
HE may have hung up his saddle after a glittering 34-year career, but there’s no such thing as an easy life if you’re Mick Kinane.
Since announcing his international retirement last December, the 51-year-old has been managing his own stud farm in his native Ireland, is now Flat Ambassador for Horseracing Ireland 2010, and is even still riding a couple of times a week back home for trainer John Oxx.
But despite his workload, the 13-time champion jockey of Ireland is set for an emotional return to one of most-loved venues, Sandown Park, this weekend, to renew his love affair with Group One Coral-Eclipse.
Kinane won the Eclipse four times in all, including his historic victory aboard legendary galloper Sea The Stars 12 months ago, which ended his career on an ultimate high.
Now named as an Ambassador for this year’s race, Kinane is delighted to return to the Surrey course, but insists he won’t miss the cut and thrust on the track.
“I’m not missing it at all, I don’t have time to miss it,” Kinane admitted.
“I’m delighted to be back because the Eclipse is a race close to my heart. My first win, for Sheikh Mohammad, in Opera House in 1993, was at a successful time for me as I was just bursting on the scene.
“The Eclipse is the ideal race for the three-year-olds to pit their wits against the older horses and it can be extremely valuable to them if they win.”
Ironically, after his 34 years in the saddle, it was nine races at the very end of his career, aboard Sea The Stars, for which Kinane will be best remembered.
The unbeaten colt was retired himself last October after becoming the only horse ever to win the 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and Prix de I’Arc de Triomphe in the same year.
But even though horse and jockey have gone separate ways, Kinane is determined to stay in touch.
“Of all the horses I have worked with, he is the one I became attached to the most,” Kinane added. “I send his yard mails every now and again, just to see how he’s doing, and I went to see him in late May for a television documentary. He looks fantastic.
“I became very involved with him at a young age and we stuck together right down the line.
“It was the perfect relationship to end my career on a high.”