Hawick jockey swapping horses for hearses

Ex-jockey Ryan Nichol now working at Robson's Funeral Directors in Hawick.
Ex-jockey Ryan Nichol now working at Robson's Funeral Directors in Hawick.
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An amateur jockey has traded in horses for hearses after reluctantly calling time on his racing career.

Hawick’s Ryan Nichol finished in winning style at a race meeting at South Lanarkshire’s Hamilton Park last week when he rode to victory aboard Donnachies Girl.

Ryan riding Havana Jack to victory at Overton Farm in South Lanarkshire in March.

Ryan riding Havana Jack to victory at Overton Farm in South Lanarkshire in March.

It was a fitting way to cap a seven-year career after Ryan decided it was time to get out of the saddle for good and try a nine-to-five job instead.

The 25-year-old has taken up a career as a funeral director at A and J Robson in Garfield Street in Hawick.

The former Hawick High School pupil said he made that decision because he wanted to look to his long-term future.

He said: “I felt it was the right time for me. I knew being a jockey was never going to last for ever. It never does.

“Becoming a funeral director is a job for life, and I wanted to look to my security for the future.

“I’m not getting any younger, and although I love racing, it wasn’t really taking me where I wanted to go.

“I knew I would have to stop at one point and now seems like as good a time as any.”

Ryan can at least point to having enjoyed one of the best years of his career in 2017.

He added: “I have been riding since I was 18. That’s seven years as I’m 25 now. I’m going out on a bit of a high because I’ve had eight winners since January, and winning on my last outing at Hamilton will live with me for a long time. It was a real highlight.

“I’ll miss the general buzz of racing, the weighing room, everything about it. It’s a tremendous, fun way of life, and I have met a lot of people that I will know for the rest of my life.”

Ryan is now working for another former rider in the form of his boss Paul Robson, who had to retire through injury.

He said: “I was offered a job funeral directoring.

“It’s a little bit of a change, but I suppose everything comes to an end, doesn’t it?

“It’s a little bit different, but I did a bit last summer on my days off, and Paul said that if ever an opportunity came up, he’d come to me.

“I knew this day was coming, and I was preparing for it.

“I’m getting older now, so I have to look to move on and see what happens.

“Paul used to ride for Nicky Richards and was a very good jockey in his day, but injuries set him back.

“I’m working for him now, and it’s back in Hawick, and it’s a big help being back home with the parents and family.

“I was given the option to carry on riding, but I thought once that’s it, that was it.”

Ryan said he had enjoyed a good last year in racing and that it was a “good point” to go out on, adding that he was very grateful to Borders trainer Alistair Whillans, based at Newmill, near Hawick, for giving him his farewell winner.