Second Cheltenham win for Borders jockey Ryan Mania
Borders jockey Ryan Mania says he has no plans to call it a day again after notching up his biggest win since coming out of retirement two years ago.
The 31-year-old rode Midnight Shadow to victory in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in Gloucestershire yesterday, November 13, claiming its £90,000 first prize.
Galashiels-born Mania had called an end to his career in the saddle just a year after winning the 2013 Grand National in Merseyside on Auroras Encore.
Only 24 at the time, that decision came as a surprise to many, but Mania stuck to his guns, citing weight problems as his reason for quitting, and instead took up jobs as a huntsman for County Durham’s Braes of Derwent Hunt and later the Duns-based Berwickshire Hunt, as well as assistant trainer with his father-in-law Sandy Thomson near Kelso.
He reversed that decision in October 2019, though, convinced that he had more to offer on the racecourse after all and that U-turn has since been vindicated.
Mania, 2012’s Galashiels braw lad, resumed his role as principal rider for Auroras Encore’s trainer Sue Smith in West Yorkshire following the enforced retirement of Danny Cook through an eye injury, and he got his first Cheltenham Festival win in March this year on Vintage Clouds, taking its £46,423 top prize.
He’s now followed that success up with another win there for Smith riding Midnight Shadow.
“I’m sure it is emotional for most jockeys, but it is especially emotional for me to have retired and come back and do all this for my family,” Mania told the Press Association.
“To come down and ride these big winners is amazing.
“Coming down the chute in front of the crowd was really emotional and then getting back to the paddock to see Sue, I had a lump in my throat.
“We’ve shared a few big days now. It's unreal. They keep supporting me and keep producing these big winners. They deserve all the credit.
“In March it was empty so we could take things in a bit more than normal. Today you are distracted by the crowd. They were unbelievable and it makes it more special.
“I never say I regret retiring because ultimately it was the best thing I ever did, but coming back was also the best thing I could have done.
“Everything happens for a reason and works out the way it's supposed to. Days like this are the reason.
“There are no plans to retire. I’ve got a good 10 years in me yet.”
Midnight Shadow is now being lined up for a shot at the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in Berkshire next year.
“He got a little bit lonely, which he can do in his races if he is in front for too long, and the lack of concentration maybe didn't help,” said Mania.
“In fairness, he was never being beaten as he is very game and I could feel the horses coming to me but he was never going to let them past.
“He is a very easy horse to ride in a race as he jumps and he travels, so you can do what you want with him.
“He is a jockey’s dream really and I’m very lucky to ride him. Everything went to plan and he barely missed a fence, so I can’t complain.
“He ran a really good race last time out and the only negative was that it was three weeks ago and I thought he might have had a hard race in the Old Roan at Aintree, but he has come here and he has never felt any effects of that race, thank God.”