National hero Mania quits the saddle.
Byline: Jon Lees
RYAN MANIA, the Grand Nationalwinning jockey, has surprised the racing world by retiring from the saddle with immediate effect - just 18 months after recording the greatest triumph of his career.
Mania, 25, who last rode at Haydock on Saturday, blamed a constant battle with weight for his decision to turn his back on the sport after eight seasons, in which his 66-1 Aintree success on Auroras Encore was by far the highlight.
It is not the first time Mania has quit, as he took a six-month break in 2011 before returning to become first jockey to Sue Smith, which helped him to a season's best 53 winners last term.
Mania was due to ride for Smith at Sedgefield yesterday but had to be replaced after breaking the news to his boss in the morning.
Smith said: "I didn't know this was coming until this morning. Ryan decided that he's struggling with his weight and we have to accept that. Obviously we're disappointed, but there's life after racing.
"He's done brilliantly for us, he's ridden a Grand National winner and a good few winners last season. As far as we're concerned he's left on a high."
Mania, who has 14 winners this season, told the Yorkshire Post: "I thought I'd be able to carry on until Christmas, but my mind is made up. People don't always see the sacrifices jockeys have to make if they're to make the weight, and also the travelling and the time away from your family.
"I'm not being fair to myself if I carry on being miserable. I rode four winners the other week and I just didn't get that kick out of winning. I want to be at a level where I'm riding winners regularly at Cheltenham and in the other big races, and I just can't see that happening on a regular enough basis to make it worthwhile."
Ryan Mania: thought long and hard about decision to retire