Woods dismounts after 16 years

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 December, 2004, 12:00am

Hong Kong stalwart Wendyll Woods yesterday advised the Jockey Club that he had decided to retire from race riding with immediate effect.

Woods, now in his sixteenth season riding in Hong Kong, said yesterday he had decided some time ago this would be his final season as a jockey, but he had brought the date forward after feeling it was the right time.

'It isn't a surprise to me. I said to Sean when I came back for this season that this would be my last and I had set a date, the Derby meeting on March 13, as the day I would finish,' Woods said yesterday.

'But unless you're 100 per cent here you don't survive. I walked into Sean's office on Monday morning and said 'I've finished'. Sean asked me why and I went through the reasons. I've always given my best for everyone and we have some good people, some great owners in the stable, and I'm sure they and Sean would have continued to support me, but I would only be fooling myself to continue until that was spoiled.

'The time comes for everyone and all jockeys know when the time has come to leave and I feel that is now. It's going to be 2005 next week - a new year, a new life, a new challenge,' said Woods.

He will continue to ride trackwork during the next few days until his licence expires on December 31.

'I would have liked to ride work until the end of January, but I understand there are other issues for the Jockey Club and when my licence is finished I have to go,' Woods said. 'I wouldn't want anyone to think I've fallen out with horses or anything like that. I'm at the end as far as race riding is concerned, but it's only a step to the side. We have a lovely stud farm back in England, currently run by our brother Dwayne, and I'll be working on the farm in the future.'

Woods rode in Hong Kong through the boom years and through some of the most turbulent times here.

'I had my share of success - my record shows that - but I was here through some of the major incidents, things like the Shanghai Syndicate, and I have never been in any trouble and I am proud of that,' he said. 'I have always done my best by the people I've ridden for, by the sport and by Hong Kong. I leave with my head held high.'

Woods commenced riding in Hong Kong as an apprentice during the 1983-84 season, and was attached to the stable of his uncle, trainer Lawrie Fownes, for three years. On finishing his time as a junior in 1987-88, he became the retained rider for the Fownes stable in a successful partnership which continued during 11 of the next 16 seasons up to the 2001-02 season.

Woods returned last season as retained rider to his brother, Sean, and has ridden this season in the same capacity.

His full record in Hong Kong reads 3,897 race rides, winning 321 races at a winning percentage of 8.2% with a further 1,427 placegetters.

Woods' biggest win came for David Hayes in June, 2002, when he piloted 50-1 chance Caracoler through the mud and slush of Sha Tin to victory in the Group Two Queen Mother's Cup.