On a day when Sir Michael Stoute’s Nostrum firmly announced himself as a star for the future, it was fitting that former trainer Cliff Lines, who was famously the legendry Shergar’s work rider, was at Newmarket on Thursday as one of Racing Welfare’s Lifetime In Racing award winners for 2022.
The annual awards seek to recognise those who have devoted more than 30 years of their working lives to the British horseracing or thoroughbred breeding industries. Nominations were received from up and down the country across the course of July, with Lines receiving no fewer than five nominations.
The Exning-based 87-year-old was still riding out aged 83 and it was not until 16 days shy of his 84th birthday in 2019 that he officially handed in his trainer’s licence and called a halt to nearly 70 years at the business end of racing.
Although associated with some high-class thoroughbreds including the likes of Sonic Lady and Shareef Dancer during his time with Sir Michael Stoute, none will come close to the mighty 1981 Derby winner and Lines revealed he was lucky enough to strike a bet at 33-1 on the colt storming to Epsom success.
“He was terrific, always was,” said Lines. “He was a lovely horse to ride, never had any problems, just a good horse.
“We knew he was a good horse before he ever saw a racetrack. He told us early on in his career he was good.
“Sonic Lady I rode all the time, Shareef Dancer, a lot of good horses. J O Tobin was one of the best I rode, but Shergar was always the one.
“I was on him at 33-1 for the Derby. I backed him early on in the spring when he did a gallop and he went 10 clear of two decent horses. He never came off the bridle.”