Racing: A National hero hangs up his boots

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TRIBUTES piled high for Hywel Davies last night after news that he has quit riding. But nothing could change jumping racing's failure to find room at the very top for a jockey of great skill.

Davies, 37, was in action for the last time at Wincanton last Thursday. His frustration finally came to a head over the weekend when he decided that the time was right to end his 17-year, 761-winner career.

'It suddenly hit me at four o'clock on Sunday morning and I rang my father at six o'clock to say I'd packed in,' Davies said yesterday.

Despite his 1985 Grand National win on 50-1 shot Last Suspect, plus other fine victories, Davies had been unable to break through to the highest rank.

'I'm happy and sad but ultimately relieved to be getting out in one piece,' Davies said. 'I will really miss the riding but I was getting fed up with everything that goes with it. The travelling, the saunas and horrid feeling of being let down. You cannot keep everybody happy all of the time and I kept having to say the right thing to people to stay in.'

Tim Forster, Last Suspect's trainer, said: 'On his day he was as good a jockey as anyone and I really mean that. There were times when nobody was stronger or rode better than Hywel.'

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