After a career lasting 19 years jockey Mark Bradburne has decided to hang up his racing saddle. It may have been the enjoyment recently of a particularly fine turkey and Christmas pud that finally led him to announce his retirement yesterday, although it is a move he and wife Gee Armytage have been planning for some time.
Three years ago he suffered two broken vertebrae in a fall. Then, in April last year, Soldiers Tree, a horse trained by his mother, Sue, deposited him on the ground at Kelso. He had to be airlifted by helicopter to Glasgow's Southern General Hospital where he was diagnosed with damage to the T9 vertebra. Although on each occasion he recovered to resume riding, breaking his back twice in the space of three years was clearly enough to prompt a review of the direction his life was taking.
Bradburne said, "After 19 years in the saddle I feel it is the right time for me to stop riding and devote more time to my business. This is the right thing for me, for my wife and children and for our long-term future. I have loved my riding both as an amateur and as professional and I've had a great time."
During his career Bradburne rode over 350 winners, including Cheltenham Festival victories on Palarshan in the Grand Annual Chase, and Relaxation in the National Hunt Chase. During his time riding for Henry Daly, Bradburne partnered other good horses, including Behrejan, Young Spartacus and Hand Inn Hand.
Following his serious injury last year, the Jockeys Employment and Training Scheme supported Bradburne to retrain as an electrician, and that business is steadily growing. He won’t be losing touch altogether with the racing industry though. The two live in Lambourn where there will be plenty of call for his services, and wife Gee is personal assistant to Tony McCoy.