Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lee Sticking to Flat Races; National Winner Swapping Codes

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lee Sticking to Flat Races; National Winner Swapping Codes

Article excerpt

G RAND National-winning rider Graham Lee is looking forward to a new career on the Flat after the shock announcement he is to switch codes.

Lee (pictured below) landed the world's most famous steeplechase in 2004 on Ginger McCain-trained Amberleigh House, and rode five Cheltenham Festival winners, including a treble in 2005 on Inglis Drever, No Refuge and Arcalis.

Lee, 36, cited weight issues as the main reason for his decision, in that he has always found it a struggle to put on enough weight to ride over jumps.

Currently sidelined after a heavy fall at Southwell on February 15, Lee said: "I'm going to concentrate on riding on the Flat. I've always had to work very hard keeping weight on me with training and it's just fallen off me since the latest fall that I took at Southwell.

"I got home from the hospital and I was 9st 12lb and I got on the scales this morning and I was 8st 12lb, so I've taken a stone off in just over five weeks.

"I love riding over jumps and I always have done. I got a fall at Huntingdon in 2008 and suffered quite a bad head injury. I actually thought about it then, because I had to work so hard at being a stone above my fighting weight.

"But when that fall occurred I was second to AP (McCoy) in the championship, who was off with a broken back at the time. I was 20 (winners) behind him and that was the main reason why I came back, I was dreaming of a championship. "I got back in the gym, got all the weight back on and went back jumping.

"Then last December I broke my collarbone and was parked up on the sofa for a couple of weeks. Then when that started to heal, I got back in the gym, got the weight back on again then I had the fall in Southwell.

"I can't really face the gym to get a stone back on me, so I'm going to go Flat racing."

Looking back at the National, Lee said: "That was an amazing day. …

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