Cliff Lines calls time – after 70 years in racing

Shergar’s work rider will send out his last runner on Wednesday

  • Tuesday 29 January
  • News
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Cliff Lines brings the curtain down on almost 70 years in racing when he saddles Catapult in the sunracing.co.uk Handicap at Lingfield on Wednesday.

As a work rider for top trainers such as Sir Noel Murless and Sir Michael Stoute, Lines sat on some of the legends of the turf – including Shergar, Shareef Dancer, Sonic Lady and J O Tobin.

Training in his own right from his base at Newmarket, Lines has decided the time is right to call it a day.

“At 84 it’s time to pack up,” he told Sky Sports Racing.

“I’ve been training for the last eight years. I didn’t start until my mid 70s. I had stables next door and I used to pre-train up to 20 horses for Sir Michael Stoute for a few years, and then I decided to sell my stables and built my own place, and then I thought I’d train a few horses

“I thought I’d start to train horses, and I only had three or four. I’ve loved it.

“We’ve had our bits of good luck and our bits of bad luck – but on the whole it’s been good. We’ve had a few winners and enjoyed every minute.”

Lines hopes he can sign off with a winner, despite Catapult not having the best of draws in stall 12.

“It’s a pity he hasn’t got a better draw, but I think with luck in running he’s still got a chance,” he said.

“He deserves to win. He’s been running some nice races of late and he’s a nice horse. Hollie Doyle rides and she gets on very well with him.”

Lines, who started out as an apprentice in 1949, will be forever associated with Shergar – who won the Derby at Epsom by 10 lengths in 1981.

“He was a terrific horse, one of the best – and he was a nice horse in temperament and everything. He was good to ride,” he said.

“We knew from an early stage he was good. But when he ran in the Futurity (at Doncaster) the ground was soft and he didn’t like it.

“It was a pity he ran it in it – but at the same time, with him getting beat, he drifted out in the betting to 33-1 for the Derby – which we took after he did a good gallop in the spring.

“Really and truly, he did us a favour.”

Shergar’s regular rider Walter Swinburn was one of the many jockeys Lines fondly remembers.

“You have to start with Lester Piggott. I’m been associated with a lot of them – like Geoff Lewis, Sandy Barclay, Willie Shoemaker, Willie Snaith,” he said.

“Walter Swinburn was a gent – and he was a brilliant rider.”

Cliff Lines calls time – after 70 years in racing
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