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LEIGHTON'S PROFILE

Leighton Aspell was born in Ireland in 1976. He learnt his trade riding out for his father Patrick before moving to Britain and becoming apprentice to Reg Hollinshead in the midlands. He later moved to Sussex to join Josh Gifford at Findon. He soon became an established jockey getting many rides for top trainers such as Lucy Wadham, Oliver Sherwood Pat Murphy and Nick Gifford. He briefly went into retirement in 2007 but thankfully he had a change of mind and resumed racing again in 2009.
In 2002 he won the Welsh National on Pat Murphy's Supreme Glory. Two years later he rode the same horse to a magnificent second place in the Aintree Grand National at the very rewarding odds of 40/1 in this his very first ride in the great race. Leighton Added to his Welsh National winners by riding L'Avanture to victory for top trainer Paul Nicholls, his first ride for the then Champion trainer. He also rode the Lucy Wadham trained United to victory in Irish Champion hurdle race at Punchestown.
Leighton's younger brother Paddy is a successful jockey in the North.


IN JULY 2007 LEIGHTON SHOCKED THE FAN CLUB BY ANOUNCING HIS RETIREMENT AT THE AGE OF JUST 31:

LEIGHTON ASPELL, a consistently successful jump jockey with 50-plus winners in three of the five most recent seasons,  announced his retirement from the saddle at the age of 31.

A man of few words, he signed off without fanfare at Stratford on Sunday after finishing unplaced on Reg Hollinshead's handicap chaser Pure Brief. He regarded a ride for the stable as an appropriate end to his 15 year riding career having served his apprenticeshipwith Britain's longest serving trainer.

“It's game over for me,” he said on Wednesday. “Although it may appear that I've quit very suddenly, it was by no means a sudden decision because it's has been at the back of my mind for a couple of seasons now.I've given the matter plenty of thought.”

Explaining his reason, he added. “I had 54 winners last season, 55 the season before that, and fortunately picked up lots of rides, but deep down I've not been happy. I've tried to kid myself I was happy, but I realised there was no point in doing that, and it was beginning to affect my private life. Being a jockey is a great way of earning a living, but I knew it was time to call it a day.

“I've made the right decision, but I know I'm going to miss the adrenaline rush that happened every time I went to the start. If I'd gone three or four days without a ride, I'd miss that special buzz. It was almost like a drug. Now I must come to terms with living without it. I'm not sure what I'll do next. I've a few projects in mind, and I may return to college to get some qualifications.”

A BOLT from the blue was how Leighton Aspell's main employers, Oliver Sherwood, Nick Gifford and Lucy Wadham, described his decision to quit, and the trio said they hoped he may change his mind when the jumps season strikes full stride.

“I was playing golf with Peter Deal when Leighton rang with his news, and I was so shocked I almost fell over,” said Sherwood.

“The fact is he's riding better than ever, and he has the pick of my horses. While I respect his decision, I don't know his reasons, and I'm rather hoping he'll have a rethink because he has so much more to offer.”

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Leighton Aspell back on track in his second spell as a jockey


One of the problems of jockeys the wrong side of 30 is that they assume, if they start looking at alternative careers, trainers will think they are one step away from retirement



No one, they reason, wants a jockey whose heart might not be in it and, they believe, the rides will dry up. Hence many of them do not start looking for second careers until they have finished riding which can mean a long hiatus between jobs.




However, 18 months of retirement seems to have done Leighton Aspell no harm. In fact it is almost as if the Sussex-based jockey has not been away and that, combined with Dominic Elsworth’s bad luck – a lengthy spell of concussion that has left him with no set return date – means Aspell has walked straight back into his two old jobs.




Even if it is only keeping the saddle warm for Elsworth, he is getting plenty of rides and winners from Oliver Sherwood and Lucy Wadham.




“I’ve been very lucky,” says Aspell, 33, who announced his comeback in April this year after quitting the saddle in July 2007. “Now that the opportunity has come along I intend to take it with both hands. I’m planning to enjoy as much as possible for as long as possible.”




His sabbatical was spent as an assistant at John Dunlop’s Arundel yard. “I was lucky to work in a yard where everything was done so well but on my weekends off I schooled a bit for Nick Gifford and local point-to-pointers and when Cheltenham and Aintree came round last spring I suddenly started to miss it.


The man who won two Welsh Nationals – on L’Aventure (2005) and Supreme Glory (2001) – and even had his own fan club, had shocked his colleagues when announcing his retirement, then hit them again with the surprise of his return.



“I suppose what I should have done was just take six or eight weeks off instead of stopping completely,” he reflected


Birth place...............................................................................................................Dublin

D/O/B.....................................................................................................................12/6/76

Status.....................................................................................................................Married to Nicola.

Children........................... ... .................................................................................3 Girls.
Nickname..............................................................................................................Lash

Favourite Course..................................................................................................Ascot

Least Favourite............................................................................................................Cheltenham

Best horse ridden................................................................................................Rouble

Wheels................................................................................................................BMW 3 series Touring estate 

Favourite food.....................................................................................................Sausages

Favourite drink....................................................................................................Guinness

Football team.......................................................................................................Aston Villa

Best thing about being a jockey........................................................................Getting paid for something I love doing.

Worst thing..........................................................................................................Travelling

Non racing interests..................................................................... .............................Golf. Coursing.Watching football.

Best jockey mates............................ .............................................................Many - Coiln Bolger. Matty Batchelor. Phillip Hide.

What do you think of the fan club.................................................................... Very flattered, magazine a great read.

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e mail honest john



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