Though small in stature, jockey Mick Kinane, a giant in the history of Irish horse racing, has decided to retire after a glorious 34-year career in the saddle.

The old adage is that top sports stars should leave at the top, and Kinane is certainly adhering to that, having enjoyed an amazing 2009 season, during which he partnered Sea the Stars to six Group One wins, the 2,000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Kinane outlined the reasons behind his decision in a statement that read:

“At 50 I still feel fit and sharp enough to do any horse justice but, after the season I have just had in partnership with Sea The Stars, I have the privilege of being able to end my career as a jockey on an incredible high and that's what I want to do.

“I leave with a huge sense of gratitude to all the great horses I have ridden, all the great trainers whose genius developed those champions and everybody else in racing, from the stable lads to the owners, who have made me deeply thankful for my involvement in the game. Teamwork is the key to success in racing and I have been blessed with some of the best alliances a jockey could have.

“The most important support of all throughout my career has, naturally, come from my wife, Catherine, along with my family and friends.

“Both Catherine and our two precious daughters, Sinead and Aisling, know how much they mean to me.”

The Tipperary native has won all over the world and has been Irish champion jockey 13 times, but he went on to say that he would, from next week on, become a small-time farmer.