Irish jockey John Egan will be 53 in May 2021 but that doesn’t mean he will be a year closer to retirement, but rather a year closer to becoming the oldest jockey to have ever raced in the sport. Although, the late Frank Amonte road until he was 76 so Egan’s burning ambition to carry on at the highest level will need to remain with him for many years to come; right now it doesn’t look like anyone or anything can douse those flames of aspiration.
Speaking recently, Egan said that “Betting odds often suggest that a horse has no chance, but racing is full of shocks.” Now, anyone who has ever bet on horse racing will know that this is true. In fact, a quick look at the Cheltenham Odds on Betfair Exchange for the upcoming event in March will attest to this, there are horses that are without a chance after being seemingly priced out of the contest.
It’s hard to put your finger on the exact reason for Egan’s drive to carry on but it appears that the temperamental nature of horse racing spurs him on more than anything. Indeed, the lure of more silverware and the fact that anything can and often does happen in horse racing is enough for the Irishman to dismiss any talk of retirement.
Jockey’s please mount 🐎 Jockey John Egan receives a leg-up for our 2pm South Downs Water H’Cap pic.twitter.com/CZii6sdC0k
— Goodwood Racecourse (@Goodwood_Races) May 24, 2018
But anything can happen like Egan says, as it did in 1990 when 100-1 outsider Norton’s Coin won the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Perhaps that was the most extraordinary moment in the history of the event, although these things happen a lot more frequently than one might think.
The 100/1 chance, owned and trained by Welsh dairy farmer Sirrell Griffiths, upstaged the mighty Desert Orchid. Griffiths had only two other horses in his stable. @CheltenhamRaces #GreatFestivalMoments #CheltenhamFestival #98DaysToGo pic.twitter.com/2K2mVhsfmc
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) December 8, 2020
In any case, Egan wants to be the man on the horse when the history books are rewritten. It has to be said that the champion jockey’s will to keep doing what he loves comes at a time where we see more and more early retirements from young professional athletes. It was only in 2015 when Rory Mcllroy set the cat amongst the pigeons when he suggested that he would retire at 40. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen but there is a trend towards not overstaying one’s welcome in professional sports these days.
Perhaps Egan is just part of the old school athletes who weren’t given the chance as young stars to earn the eye-watering amounts that some do these days, or maybe it is less cynical and more about the desire to keep on doing what he loves. Jokingly, Egan says that it is purely down to the desire to keep on beating his son who is also a professional jockey, currently racing out in Bahrain.
Whatever the reason, horse racing hasn’t seen the back of John Egan and will be treated to seeing this legend carry on racing well into his fifties and beyond. As the old saying goes, you wouldn’t bet against him doing the impossible by joining the winner’s circle next time he gets on a horse. Indeed, the next few years are going to be interesting ones to watch.