Jockey Sammy Jo Bell retires from race riding

Sammy Jo Bell has announced her retirement from the saddle at the age of 27.

Bell hit the headlines in the summer of 2015 when riding two winners at the Shergar Cup at Ascot as an apprentice, being crowned the leading rider at the annual international team competition.

But it was not such good news the following May, as the highly-rated rider, who was attached to Richard Fahey's yard in North Yorkshire, had to spend several weeks in a wheelchair after undergoing a pelvic operation following a heavy fall at Carlisle.

Bell was unseated when Royal Duchess reared up and then fell on top of her on the way down to the start for a seven-furlong handicap. Initial examinations suggested she had escaped serious injury, but it later transpired Bell required surgery.

She returned to action in January last year, riding her first winner back at Musselburgh in April, but recently had further surgery and rehabilitation.

Speaking of her decision to move in a different direction, Bell told Press Association Sport: "It's a big decision, but something I have been thinking about for quite a while, since I had the pins out of my pelvis in October. I thought about it during my rehabilitation and thought it was for the best.

"I've always ridden, I grew up with horses and have worked in racing since I was 18. It's all I've known. I still love racing and horses. I want to do something in the sport and I've got a summer placement with York racecourse, starting in April.

"York is one of the best racecourses and I can't wait to get to know the team there. It's something to look forward to, it's another side of racing, the organisation that goes into racedays.

"I like to have some sort of direction and I've got to a point where I can do something else when I'm still young enough."

Looking back at the Shergar Cup, she said: "The Shergar Cup was a day I'll never forget, it was absolutely brilliant to get the chance to ride there as an apprentice, then to ride two winners and be leading rider - that was my Group One, my highlight. It really was great.

"I've had great support from Richard and Robin (O'Ryan, assistant trainer) at Musley Bank and my agent (Richard Hale), I couldn't have done it without that support.

"Richard and Robin were great and brought me racing and around the yard (when injured) and Richard was kind enough to be let me live in his house when I was in a wheelchair."

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