See More Business and Andrew Thornton lead Challenger Du Luc and One Man in the 1997 King George VI Chase Image by

See More Business and Andrew Thornton winning the 1997 King George VI Chase
Image by

Andrew Thornton is just two away from joining the elite club of jump jockeys to have ridden 1,000 winners after scoring on Barton Gift at Bangor.

The 44-year-old struck on the gelding trained by John Spearing and carrying the colours of former trainer Mercy Rimell, in the Equine Lens Handicap Chase, but despite his starting price, it was not a complete surprise to the jockey.

“I thought he had a chance. He had won over the course and distance before and he always takes a couple of runs to blow the cobwebs out,” said Thornton.

“I have to thank Jamie Moore for pushing and shoving him round Warwick a fortnight ago. It obviously did the trick.

“It’s another winner and nice to do it for Mercy Rimell. She’s been a big supporter of mine over the years. They have been very lucky colours for me with horses like Simon and Gaye Brief,” said Thornton.

Though the weighing-room veteran has reached that landmark figure worldwide, he is as determined as ever to reach it domestically.

“I’ve actually had two winners abroad so officially I’ve got 1,000 winners but not in this country, so it doesn’t count,” he said.

“At one stage I was thinking I might have to bank on those two abroad.”

Thornton will put his quest to one side during the short racing break for Christmas before resuming his bid on Boxing Day, when it will mean a very early start.

He will be in action at Wincanton in Somerset, where he is looking to partner Somchine for Seamus Mullins in the Armishaws Removals Mid Season Handicap Chase and Dawson City for Polly Gundry in the Bathwick Tyres Lord Stalbridge Memorial Cup.

“I’ll be at Wincanton on Boxing Day. I’ve got Somchine for Seamus and I think, all being well, Polly is going to run Dawson City and then see what else we end up with. They are nice rides to have.

“Who knowns when I get the two winners I need. It might be Boxing Day, the day after or whenever. What will be, will be.

“I’ve enjoyed the journey and I’m continuing to enjoy it.

“All being well I’m going to go hunting on Christmas Eve and then Yvonne (wife), little Harry (son) and myself are going to mum and dad’s near Sedgefield for a family Christmas Day.

“Then it will be a five o’clock start for Wincanton. It’s got to be done.

“I’m looking forward to it. There’ll be a day when I won’t be doing it.”