Chris Munce has intent to succeed as a trainer
A HORSE he hand-picked as a yearling, and purchased with his wife Cathy for $15,000, could provide champion jockey Chris Munce with a fairytale end to his magnificent riding career at the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Wicked Intent, one of the co-favourites for the $2 million two-year-old race could also be the horse to launch his new career as a trainer.
The 45-year-old hoop, with more than 2500 winners to his credit, stunned the racing industry on the eve of the big race by announcing the Magic Millions meeting would be his last in the saddle.
He said he planned to build on that tally as a trainer, and already has a dozen horses waiting to join his stable, including Wicked Intent which he races with wife Cathy and father-in-law Barry Mitchell who trains the horse at present.
"There's a dozen or so (horses) waiting to come over, but he'll be my first decent horse," he said of the colt who has returned $226,400 in stake money.
Munce said he had enjoyed a great time as a jockey, but felt the time was right to move on to the next chapter of his life as a trainer.
"I just thought this was right because of Wicked Intent. I may not get another opportunity like this again," he said.
"I've been lucky to have ridden against some of the greats and fortunate to have had a very successful career."
It was also a colourful and controversial one, which included two years in prison for his part in a race-tipping scandal in Hong Kong in 2007.
Since overcoming throat cancer two years ago, Munce said he hadn't felt the same passion or love of race riding.
"I felt when I didn't go to bed dreaming about riding winners that it was time to move," Munce said.
"Probably since my illness that passion hasn't been there as much as what it used to be, and I thought life is too short not to really have a good throw at the stumps."
The diminutive Queenslander is one of only seven jockeys to have won Australia's big four races - the 1998 Melbourne Cup on Jezabeel, the 2004 Cox Plate on Savabeel, the 2010 Caulfield Cup on Descarado and two Golden Slippers on Dance Hero (2004) and Prowl (1998).
He has notched 43 Group 1 wins and five Brisbane jockeys' premierships, including the record of 102 wins in a single season.
He singled out the Cox Plate victory on Savabeel as particularly memorable.
"All those Group 1 winners, they were great thrills. Putting all the hard work in to get down to 48.5kg for the ride on Savabeel and seeing it pay off was an amazing moment," he said.
His army of supporters will no doubt hope he has at least one more fairytale left on Saturday.