Jockeys, Racecourse Staff & Stewards make a presentation to Ken Whelan to mark his retirement
©Healy Racing Photos
By Thomas Weekes
Recently retired jockey Ken Whelan made presentations at Thurles today to winning connections of the races (2 divisions) named in his honour, the Ken Whelan Hangs Up His Boots Handicap Chase.
Whelan, one of the great characters in Irish racing, rarely misses a trick and later joked “they (Thurles Racecourse) divided the race to make full sure I went!”
He added “myself and a friend Pat Horan have leased the Watermill Pub & Niteclub in Thurles and it opens next week. Times are tough everywhere at present but hopefully the pub will work out.
Whelan, who recently announced his retirement following medical advice, had many of his racing milestones at Thurles so it was fitting that the racecourse honoured him with today's occasion. He said: “Thurles has been a special track for me; I had my first winner here but also had my first suspension and first bad fall here!
“There are so many people I could thank along the way - I'd be naming names all night. It was never really my intention to train horses but I'll continue to ride out most mornings – I'm fine physically and am lucky to be a lot better than I could have been.”
One of the most remarkable aspects of Whelan's career, which began in 1990, was his failure to ride a winner at Kilbeggan. Regarding that, he stated “I never managed a win there but rode a winner on every other racecourse, including The Curragh!”
Whelan's retirement party will be held in his Watermill Bar on Sunday December 9.