Josh Gifford bowed out in sea of emotion at Sandown on Saturday (26 April), completing 33 years as a trainer with a fairytale finish.
He saddled his last runner, Skycab to produce the perfect ending to half a century on the stage of the sport he loves.
Before he embarked on life asa trainer at Findon, in Sussex, Gifford had been four-times champion jump jockey.
Always one to wear his heart on his sleeve, Gifford has greeted many a winner in the unsaddling enclosure with an unashamed tear or two. Saturday was no exception.
The place was awash with moist eyes as Gifford, 61, stepped forward to give Skycab a well-earned pat on the neck before being mobbed by well-wishers.
Skycab was his 1,587th winner and he now hands over the reins of Downs Stables to his son Nick.
It was not only a fitting end to a wonderful career as a trainer but also a heart-warming finale as the curtain came down on the jumps season. Gifford has been one of the most popular characters in the game.
Aldaniti, ridden by BobChampion, who had conquered cancer, marked the highlight of his training career with his well-documented and poignant victory in the 1981 Grand National.
Josh’s other big winners included:
- Deep Sensation (Queen Mother Champion Chase & Tote Gold Trophy)
- Kybo (Christmas Hurdle)
- Shady Deal (Whitbread Gold Cup)
- Brief Gale (Sun Alliance Chase)
- Bradbury Star (two Mackeson Gold Cups)