Thornton making comeback

Cambridge trainer Craig Thornton is excited to be making a comeback to raceriding after eight years.

The former champion jumps jockey who rode almost 300 winners in an international career will be back in the saddle at Te Rapa on Saturday, riding Zagata in the Ken and Roger Browne Memorial Steeplechase and Evathreestep in the Minibus Express Hurdles.

The 46-year-old was granted his jumps licence yesterday afternoon and is looking forward to getting back into the raceday action.

“It’s been eight years since I rode in a race, but I never gave up riding the jumpers,” said Thornton. “I always schooled them. I love riding them and I’m excited about riding again on Saturday.”

The comeback is no surprise to people who watched Thornton in action at the Cambridge jumps trials on April 18. The veteran of almost 300 wins guided Zagata into second in a steeplechase trial.

“It felt good, a real buzz,” said Thornton, who has been on a fitness regime since last Christmas.

The last time Thornton rode in a race was in 2005 when he finished second in a major event at Nashville in America and his last New Zealand ride was a winning one on My Willie Montague in the Racing Minister’s Hurdles at Ellerslie in June 2004.

Thornton retired to pursue a training career and though he’s making a comeback to riding, training will always be his main focus.