Persecuted Carson hints end is near

Willie Carson may be about to retire. He said yesterday that it was "highly likely" that this year's Derby would be his last and mused that a win on Alhaarth would be "a fairy-tale ending" to his 35-year career.

Carson was shaken by the calls for him to retire since he threw a race away at Lingfield last Saturday night, dropping his hands near the line on the heavily backed 4-5 favourite Kamari, and getting caught by Major Dundee, ridden by the apprentice Dane O'Neill

"My pride has been absolutely devastated," Carson said. "It's one of the worst things that's happened in my racing career because there was virtually no excuse for it.

"I got caught napping by a horse I hadn't realised was there. It was a terrible mistake, but we all make mistakes. The way the press have been going on about it you'd think I'd done it on purpose."

Answering allegations that he is not as sharp as he used to be, Carson said: "It was me making a bloody awful mistake - I don't think age had anything to do with it."

Carson hinted the end was not far away, saying: "A retirement date has never been set but we won't be going on much longer." He added he would finish "when I think I am not doing the job or cannot do the job or get frightened doing the job which I haven't done at this present time.

"This will probably be my last Derby though I saw in The Sporting Life there was a poll and 84 per cent were in favour of me still riding. The Government would love to have that majority wouldn't they?"