Chris Munce knew his 30-year career as a jockey was coming to an end when he no longer dreamed about riding winners.
Munce, 45, will retire from the saddle after Saturday’s Gold Coast meeting and take up training from Sunday.
“I knew retirement was coming when I went to bed the night before a race meeting and didn’t dream about riding winners,” Munce said.
He has a mission on his last day as a rider when he aims for his fourth win in the Magic Millions Classic in which he rides the favourite Wicked Intent, trained by his father-in-law Barry Mitchell.
Munce will begin his new career with 12 horses but hopes to build up his team at Munce Racing to 30 or 40.
“It is not beyond the realms that I can be the first premiership winning jockey to also be the leading trainer in Brisbane,” Munce said.
His retirement brings to a close a career of many ups and downs.
“When I won the Caulfield Cup for Gai (Waterhouse) in 2010 on Descarado and completed the grand slam I originally started thinking about retiring,” he said.
Munce is one of only seven jockeys to have won Australia’s big four – the Melbourne Cup on Jezabeel, the Cox Plate on Savabeel, the Caulfield Cup on Descarado and two Golden Slippers on Dance Hero and Prowl.
His achievements include 43 Group One wins, five Brisbane jockeys’ premierships, a record number of Brisbane wins in a season of 102, and more than 2500 winners overall.
Intermingled was a stint in jail after a 2007 conviction in Hong Kong for betting offences and after serving his sentence he returned to Brisbane.
He was immediately riding winners but his career stalled again when he was diagnosed with throat cancer in December 2012.
“That was two years ago and I have got the all-clear. I go for regular check-ups but there are no signs of anything,” Munce said.
“I have decided to take up training at a time when I am still young and fit.”
He said he had been lucky to ride for some outstanding trainers ranging from Gai Waterhouse and Bart Cummings to Brisbane’s Eric Kirwan and Roy Dawson.
“Even when I was riding work for Gai I was always a sponge soaking up whatever I could learn from her and why she did certain things,” he said.
“I have learned something from each trainer. I have also been lucky to ride with some outstanding jockeys.”
“That will the hard thing walking out of the jockeys’ room for the last time on Saturday.”
Munce said he had spoken with former champion jockey and now trainer Ron Quinton about the switch of roles.
“He said it was hard work but very rewarding taking a rough diamond of a horse and converting it to a real diamond,” Munce said.”
mount,” he said.
Munce made special mention of his wife Cathy and Mitchell, both of whom will be involved in the new venture.
“They have stuck with me through thick and thin and it would be a fairy tale come true if I can win on Wicked Intent on Saturday,” he said.