At Sandown Park on the 25 April 2015, riding Box Office, two jumps from home, the realisation hit me. This is it. This is really the end.
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I was now a matter of seconds away from the moment all the numbers stopped for ever. My career total of National Hunt winners would remain at 4,348 after this, my 17,546th ride. All the stats, the numbers that had governed my life for the last two decades, they were just a few hundred yards from being stilled for ever. My whole career, my whole adult life, had been built on making those numbers click upwards as fast as I could, but in a couple of furlongs they would never move again.
Deciding to retire was the most difficult decision I've ever had to make. Fortunately I was able to go out at the very top, and being able to say that makes me a very, very lucky man indeed. And now, in this book, I've been able to look back over my entire career - both good and bad moments - and see it in its entirety: the biggest wins, the disappointments, the injuries and the tragedies, my wonderful family, and the amazing horses and the fantastic personalities I've worked with.
18,000 people turned up to that final race at Sandown, and I can now look back on my career with immense pride and gratitude. But that chapter of my life is closed. This book is the final word on my riding career - it's time to move forward.