Expat New Zealand jockey Damian Browne has announced his retirement after spending months on the sidelines.
The 15-time Group One winner has been off the scene since falling ill in January, as a result of long-term wasting, and the veteran rider said his body is telling him to hang up his boots.
“It was a couple of days before the Magic Millions when I had a perforated bowel and my kidneys shut down and my body just went into shock from the years of wasting and taking anti-inflammatories for my legs, which I have had pain with for probably ten years now,” Browne said.
“With all that happening I had to stop taking the anti-inflammatories and now I have got chronic pain in my legs most of the time now. It’s going to be an ongoing problem for probably the rest of my life.
“I think it is just time now to move on to a new chapter in my life.”
The 46-year-old began his riding career in New Zealand, where he posted 457 wins before relocating to Queensland.
“In the late-80’s and early-90’s I was apprenticed to Ned Thistoll and then Jim Melton and I had a reasonably successful apprenticeship,” he said.
“I came over (to Queensland) firstly to get out of the cold in New Zealand and the racing didn’t look to be going ahead there at the time. I was looking for a fresh start and we moved over here and haven’t looked back.”
Browne recorded 15 Group One victories as a jockey, but highlights Buffering as the best horse he has ridden.
Browne rode the former Robert Heathcote-trained gelding to seven Group One victories, including the Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) in Dubai.
“They are all memorable for different reasons, but obviously Buff (Buffering) was the big highlight of my career,” he said.
“He has certainly done some great things for my life and my family’s and has given me some memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.
“It’s a jockeys dream to find one of those horses and everyone is looking for one.”
Browne is now looking forward to the future and is hoping to enter the media industry after the upcoming Queensland winter carnival.
“I’d love to stay in the industry,” he said. “It has been really good to me for 30 years and I would really like to give back to the industry, so to stay within in it in some capacity would be terrific.
“The TAB have offered me a nice job over the carnival as their VIP ambassador. So I am looking forward to working with the TAB over those days and getting to the races.
“I would really enjoy getting into the media side of things (after the carnival).” – NZ Racing Desk