Kevin Darley – A Legend Retires
When you have had a long and successful career, as Kevin Darley has, the decision to retire from the sport that is your passion does not come easily. The horse racing community was shocked when Darley announced that he would be hanging up his silks, as they know that they are not only losing one of the worlds’ greatest flat racing jockeys, but a living legend. Kevin Darley decided to draw the final curtain on his horse racing career, and look for a new direction for the future.
Kevin Darley was born on 5 August 1960 in Staffordshire, England. His parents were not part of the horse racing industry, but he received a lot of encouragement from his father to pursue a career as a jockey. Reg Hollinshead took the young Darley under his wing as an apprentice, and through his well-known skill for training some of the best jockeys on the track, Darley was ready to bring home his first win on 5 August 1977, a seventeenth birthday gift to himself. He rode Dust Up at Haydock Park that day and went on to win the Bovis Handicap a mere two months after his first victory. By his second season, Kevin Darley had seventy winning horses under his belt.
In his career Darley has ridden 2 500 winning thoroughbreds in races across the world. For thirty-one years he has poured his heart and soul into every horse he was partnered with, managing to bring the best out of every one of them. Of course, there are always a few horses that stand out, that have found a place in his heart and that he will remember. Observatory, Celtic Swing, Pilsudski and Attraction jump to mind, but High Chaparral and Reverence have also left their mark.
When it comes to achievements, Kevin Darley took home two trophies from the Lester Awards, namely the Flat Jockey Special Recognition Award in 1997 and the Flat Jockey of the Year in 2000. He also won the British Flat Racing Champion Apprentice Award at the start of his career in 1978, but with winning the British Flat Racing Champion Jockey in 2000, he had secured his position amongst the horse racing legends of the industry.
At fourty-seven, Kevin Darley has made the painful decision of retirement. Even though he might not be on the back of one his magnificent racing machines, everyone in the horse racing industry is sure that they will see him pop in from time to time. As racing says goodbye to one of its favorite jockeys, Kevin Darley welcomes new adventures and challenges into his life.