A sensational seven days in the life of world-class rider Michael Kinane has ended with the retirement of Vintage Crop, the horse that won everlasting fame for the Irish jockey in the 1993 Melbourne Cup. 'It's the end of an era,' said Kinane yesterday as he left for engagements in Cologne following the expected withdrawal of Vintage Crop from the Irish St Leger. 'The decision was not unexpected and Dermot [Weld] and the owner, Michael Smurfit, had little hesitation in deciding enough was enough. He was a magnificent horse, a true champion and I won't forget him.' The retirement of Vintage Crop leaves Kinane doubtful for a Melbourne Cup ride this season and he is still uncertain of his exact return date to Hong Kong as he is now freshly involved in a three-way battle for the Irish title. The publication of Kinane's authorised biography raised a storm in Hong Kong and made headlines in Britain following the allegations of the security department of the Jockey Club here that the big race rider had been paid the staggering sum of US$13 million. Kinane's book has received a good reception in Britain and Ireland and he said yesterday: 'In relation to the chapter on the Licensing Committee hearing, I simply told the truth. I did so in the hearing itself and I repeated that in the book. 'I was not entirely pleased with the coverage it got in Britain because I felt there were other parts of the book that had greater relevance than that.' Kinane is now five winners behind both reigning champion John Murtagh - due here in November - and Kevin Manning, in a bid to win his 11th Irish title. He has come from a near hopeless position, brought about by the incessant demands to ride in England and Europe, to be a chance. He said: 'I am due to ride in Listowel all next week and that will give a clearer picture to the championship. I will know after that the exact date of my return to Hong Kong.' Trainer Bruce Hutchison is making steady progress following the car accident last week which resulted in him receiving facial injuries. Wife Lana, who has been at his bedside virtually throughout the intervening days, said yesterday: 'He has made good progress and even the facial injuries may not be quite as bad as we first thought. He is off morphine but still in pain.' Letters, cards, faxes and flowers have arrived from all round the racing world for the popular West Australian-born trainer who is a 17-year veteran of the local racing scene.