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Record-breaking jockey announces shock retirement aged 32 after split from owner

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A record-breaking Cheltenham Festival jockey has announced his shock retirement aged just 32 – almost a year to the day after his split from a millionaire owner.

Adrian Heskin was labelled racing’s next big thing after becoming the youngest ever Festival winner when guiding A New Story to victory in the 2010 Cross Country aged 17.

Record-breaking jockey Adrian Heskin has retired from racing aged just 32

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Record-breaking jockey Adrian Heskin has retired from racing aged just 32Credit: PA
The jockey was a familiar sight in the maroon, blue and white silks of the McNeill family

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The jockey was a familiar sight in the maroon, blue and white silks of the McNeill familyCredit: Getty

That threw the Irishman into the limelight and after more big-race success he hooked up with top owner Max McNeill.

The pair enjoyed a relatively long and lucrative spell together which included winning the 2017 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting on The Worlds End – a victory worth over £56,000.

And they bagged another Grade 1 together when the same Tom George-trained horse claimed the £57,000 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December 2019.

But they split 12 months ago – nearly a year to the day – with businessman McNeill calling it a ‘financial decision’.

Heskin won 432 races over his 15-year career and amassed more than £1.3million from rides in Britain over the past five years alone.

He also scooped the 2010 bet365 Gold Cup on Michael Hourigan’s Church Island.

While his first Grade 1 success came on Martello Tower – a horse owned and trained by Willie Mullins’ sister-in-law Mags – in the 2015 Albert Bartlett.

The jockey announced he was calling quits on his time in the saddle in a short and sweet statement on X, with punters saying it was ‘sad to hear’.

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Heskin, who is from Kilworth in County Cork, wrote: “After 15 years of race-riding I’ve decided to call an end to my career.

“I’m very proud of my career and achieved far more than I could have imagined as a kid.

“I rode for the best of trainers on both sides of the Irish Sea and some fantastic owners along the way. Of course, some amazing horses too.

“My love for horses is stronger than ever and I owe everything I have to them. Here’s to the future.”

McNeill was among the many wishing Heskin all the best for the future.

A post from his McNeill Family X account read: “Congratulations to Adrian on an excellent career in the saddle.

“We had some great times together including two Grade 1 victories with The Worlds End and many other brilliant days.

“Adrian is an excellent horseman and he has a very bright future ahead and we wish him all the best!”

Heskin struggled to find many rides after the split from the McNeills.

His final Graded victory came aboard Mullins’ Hauturiere at Limerick last December where he won by 35 lengths.

While his final ever ride went down as a winner thanks to victory on 11-8 fav Gaillimh A Run at Tramore for trainer John Queally last month.

Former Grand National-winning trainer Jonjo O’Neill also hailed Heskin as a ‘true gentleman’ and added: “Congratulations on a brilliant career, Adrian. We wish you all the best for what comes next.”

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