From one moment of glory to another; The Derby, the Arc, the King George...Reid retires from the saddle with a string of big-race successes behind him that.
The early career of John Reid gave no indication of the heights he would achieve as a four-time English Classic winner with 48 Group 1 successes around the world.
From a farming family in Banbridge, County Down, he spent a short time with local trainer Leslie Crawford before signing a five-year apprenticeship in 1972 with Verly Bewicke at Chilton, Oxfordshire.
Bewicke was predominately a jumps trainer, but did well with his Flat horses and one of them, a two-year-old filly named Eyry, gave Reid his first winner at Goodwood in May 1973.
Looking back, the jockey says: "She was a flighty little thing, but I got on well with her at home and the Major let me ride her.
"I certainly wasn't an overnight sensation and because of the Major's jumping contacts I rode for more jumps trainers than Jeff King, who was stable jockey at the time."
It did put Reid in contact with the redoubtable Arthur Stephenson, who employed him with marked success in the North, and also provided the singular honour of riding a two-year-old winner for that bastion of jumping, Tim Forster.
But while he was still apprenticed to Bewicke he asked for permission to ride out for Fulke Johnson Houghton at nearby Blewbury-and it was that connection that set him on the road to the upper echelons of the sport.
"When I came out of my time in 1977, Fulke gave me more of a chance, although Lester Piggott and Willie Carson had first crack and I couldn't argue with that."
But then in 1978 came Ile de Bourbon and everything changed for the 23-year-old. After being beaten by Shirley Heights in the Heathorn Stakes at Newmarket and finishing second in the Predominate at Goodwood, Piggott declined the colt in favour of Stradavinsky in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and, with Carson claimed for Admirals Launch, Reid took his chance and brought the colt home for his first Group win.
Ile de Bourbon was only just beginning to blossom and the following month the partnership won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes from French Derby-winner Acamas, with the Queen's Oaks and St Leger-winning filly of the previous season, Dunfermline, eighth.
Reid says: "Every jockey needs a great horse to get them noticed and Illy did it for me. He was magnificent and the next season he won the Coronation Cup. It was a shame he got the virus because he'd have started favourite for the Eclipse.
"I was very lucky that Fulke had the champion sprinter of Europe, Double Form, who won me a King's Stand and Prix de l'Abbaye, and some top horses for the Aga Khan like Naseem, who won the Cherry Hinton.
"I also got my first Classic when Pat [Eddery] turned down On The House, trained by Harry Wragg, and we won the 1982 1,000 Guineas.
"Fulke always said that when things didn't go right the jockey would have to go and, after a couple of moderate years, we split. But there was no animosity and I carried on riding for him right up until last week. He gave me my last winner, Upstream.
"But I was very fortunate after I left Fulke and nearly every job I took provided me with Group winners."
"Brian Swift asked me to join him in 1984 and we had two of the fastest two-year-olds of that season, Primo Dominie and Prince Sabo. It was a great shame that Brian died the following year."
Reid's instinct for making the right career moves continued when a chance meeting with breeder Paddy Burns at Royal Ascot led to a rewarding association with Park Express, trained by Jim Bolger and one of the best middle-distance fillies of 1986.
Reid adds: "At that time I began riding for Charlie Nelson and he had a knack of finding good horses like Rich Charlie and Minstrella.
"I also got lucky when I was called in late to ride Tony Bin and won the 1988 Arc."
Reid was then approached to join the legendary Vincent O'Brien, then in the twilight of a magnificent career, and the jockey recalls: "I would not have missed that for anything. It was an education and he still had the Midas touch as he showed with Royal Academy, who won the 1990 July Cup. I missed him in the Breeders' Cup because of injury but it gave Lester very nearly his finest hour.
"But Lester and I had our moment together in 1987 when he trained for a short time and I rode him his only Group 1 winner as a trainer on Lady Bentley in the Italian Oaks."
However, the most rewarding period of his career was still to come via a meeting with Peter Chapple-Hyam at the Goodwood May meeting in 1992.
"Cash Asmussen had turned down the ride on Dr Devious in the Derby and Peter asked me to ride-the rest is history, as they say.
"I had six fantastic years with Peter at Manton during which we won the Irish 2,000 Guineas twice, with Turtle Island in 1994 and Spectrum in 1995. We also won the French 2,000 Guineas on Victory Note in 1998 and he put me on the three principal two-year-old colt winners at Royal Ascot in 1993-Stonehatch, Turtle Island and State Performer.
"It was a wonderful time to be associated with Manton and I've never worked with a better trainer than Peter."
Reid also came in for some quality spare rides from Godolphin, winning the 1996 Eclipse on Halling, and it was in the royal blue that he took a second King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes 19 years on, with the gallant Swain in 1997.
Reid says: "I certainly got lucky with Godolphin. They also gave me an English and Irish Leger with Nedawi and Kayf Tara in 1998."
Reid worked hard at perfecting his art and his big-race haul bears testimony to this, and to the diligence of his long-time agent and confidant Peter Shoemark.
He has worked hard behind the scenes for his fellow riders and his considered views on the sport have been sought at the highest level.
A man whose integrity is unquestioned, he has never been afraid to air his opinions and never failed the media, always giving a balanced comment, however testing the situation.
British racing has seen a true ambassador weigh in for the last time.
Dismounting from 1992 Derby winner Dr Devious Ile de Bourbon gets Reid `noticed' with 1978 King George victory Another stroke of luck as Tony Bin wins the 1988 Arc
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||Sep 28, 2001|
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