Racing hero Sam Thomas reveals he hit ‘rock bottom’ and ‘couldn’t bear to look back’ after retiring as a jockey

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BIG-race hero Sam Thomas has finally revealed that he went through hell when his riding career ended.

Thomas had brought home more than 500 winners, and proudly scooped major races on equine icons like Kauto Star and Denman.

Sam Thomas reveals he hit rock bottom after he stopped racing

The Cheltenham Gold Cup, Hennessy Gold Cup, and Tingle Creek Chase featured high among his finest triumphs.

But once the daily riding routine stopped, he plunged into deep despair, and it is only now, four years later, that he feels comfortable enough to talk about it.

He admits: “I was at rock bottom. I dropped into a dark hole. I couldn’t deal with it.

“Saying ‘goodbye’ to people I’d virtually lived with for more than ten years was hard to take.  Yes, it as a shock.

“I couldn’t bear to look back after leaving the weighing-room for the last time.  


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“I became mentally shattered, and I shall always be grateful to my family for helping me through those terrible days.

“My dad was immense. He’s been the biggest influence on my life. He’s pushed me harder than anyone else.

“He’s very competitive, and he’s made me the same.”

Thomas has steadily raised himself from the horrendous dark hole, and now successfully trains for his landlord, Dai Walters, who built Ffos Las racecourse, and is quoted worth £264 million in the latest Times rich list.

They share the same extraordinary passion for racehorses at the modern Walters’ stable in Lisvane near Cardiff.

Sam Thomas struggled with depression after he stopped riding

He adds: “I chat to Mr. Walters every morning. He likes to know the very latest about his horses, and to discuss plans for them.

“He has an opinion, and we don’t always agree. But that’s great for me, as we work things out together, and I learn a lot from his judgment and experience.

“We are both very competitive, and we get on well.

“To compete with the big boys, we need good horses and good facilities, and we have both.

“And we are continually buying yearlings, and two, and three year olds. Our yard is currently full with 30 smashing horses.

“I am not trying to sell myself. I’m still learning. I have a little way to go, yet. But I’m feeling great now, and that means more to me than anything.”


If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123, or visit Mind’s website.

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