Jockey Sam Jones has retired from race-riding to start a new career in hunt service from today (Friday 1 May).
He will become whipper-in at the Bicester Hunt with Whaddon Chase, based near Bicester, Oxon.
Sam will be one of hundreds of members of hunt staff across the country assuming their new positions, on the official start of the 2015/16 season.
The 26-year-old signed off in the best possible style with a win on his final ride aboard Kayla in the mares’ National Hunt Flat race at Towcester yesterday (Thursday 30 April). He was riding for his uncle and trainer Stuart Edmunds.
Sam, a keen follower of hounds who has continued to hunt throughout his racing career, will become the fourth generation on his father’s side to go into hunt service. His grandfather was was a renowned huntsman of the Pytchley for 34 years, while his father Nick hunted the former Vale of Aylesbury (now Kimblewick).
Sam told H&H: “I have always had a great love for hunting and it’s really been a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ I will change paths.
“Racing has been great for me and I am so thankful to everybody who has supported my career, however, I have always wanted to go into hunt service and when this opportunity arose it just seemed like the right time.”
Having ridden more than 100 winners, Sam’s most notable success came in the Coral Cup at the 2007 Cheltenham Festival, when he rode Burntoakboy to win for trainer Dr Richard Newland.
He also experienced success over jumps in America last summer, riding for trainer Jack Fisher. While he was there, he hunted with Guy Allman, huntsman of the Blue Ridge Foxhounds in Virginia. Guy has returned to the UK and also assumes his new position today (1 May) as huntsman of the Bicester with Whaddon Chase.
Sam is not the only jockey to be hanging up his racing boots and entering hunt service. Grand National-winning jockey Ryan Mania has recently taken on the role of kennel-huntsman at the Braes of Derwent in Co. Durham.