Martin Dwyer Announces His Retirement: Five of the Best from a Cracking Career

Sunday 2nd July 2023 brought the news that Classic-winning jockey Martin Dwyer would be calling time on his career in the saddle. Dwyer threw everything at making a comeback following an injury to his ACL – sustained in a fall when riding out for Brian Meehan in May 2022 – but in the end, two surgeries were not enough to bring his left knee back to race-riding strength. Now set to increase his media and promotional work, Dwyer will be a big miss in the weighing room but can look back on a near-30-year career with pride.

Born in Aintree, Merseyside, unlike many, Dwyer didn’t have any family connections to the racing industry, instead earning his status through sheer hard work. Starting out as a 15-year-old apprentice with Ian Balding, Dwyer rode his first winner aboard Susquehanna Days at Warwick on 9th July 1993, and his last on Lucky Eva at Chelmsford on 3rd February 2003. Those two successes bookended a career which included 1,543 winners, eight Group 1 wins, and eight victories at the prestigious Royal Ascot Festival.

Upon his enforced retirement, Dwyer stated, “I’d like to go out like Frankie [Dettori] and do a world tour, but I’d probably be at Wolverhampton and Southwell.” Whilst Dwyer was always a reliable source of winners at the more run-of-the-mill tracks, he was also more than capable of displaying his talents on the biggest stages. Here we look back at a quintet of stars who helped the likeable Liverpudlian scale the heights.

Sir Percy

  • Trainer – Marcus Tregoning
  • Peak Official Rating – 121
  • Group 1 Wins – Vintage Stakes (2005), Dewhurst Stakes (2005), Epsom Derby (2006)

We start with the horse who provided Dwyer with the biggest success of his career – 2006 Epsom Derby hero Sir Percy. Having partnered the son of Mark Of Esteem to all four wins during a perfect juvenile season – including in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes – Dwyer likely had high hopes of landing a first career colts’ Classic headed into the 2006 season. He had to settle for second when failing to live with George Washington in the 2,000 Guineas, but better was to come at Epsom, as Dwyer and Sir Percy got up close home in one of the most thrilling Derby finishes in recent memory. A perfectly judged ride, which earned Dwyer the Lester Award for Ride of the Year.

Casual Look

  • Trainer – Andrew Balding
  • Peak Official Rating – 115
  • Group 1 Wins – Epsom Oaks (2003)

Three years before the success of Sir Percy, Dwyer achieved one of the most significant victories of his career, as he drove Casual Look home down the outside to hold off Yesterday in the 2003 Epsom Oaks. Another masterclass of riding in the straight from Dwyer, whose combination of positioning and timing was enough to earn him a first Group 1 triumph on the biggest stage of all. This win was no doubt lent a little extra sheen as it came for Andrew Balding – son of Ian Balding, with whom Dwyer began his career.


  • Trainer – William Muir
  • Peak Official Rating – 124
  • Group 1 Wins – King Edward VII Stakes (2020), Great Voltigeur Stakes (2020), Coronation Cup (2021)

Upon retirement, Dwyer singled out his pride in winning all three Epsom 1m4f Group 1s. Landing the big two in 2003 and 2006, he then had to wait fifteen years to complete the set in the Coronation Cup. Hailing from the yard of Dwyer’s father-in-law William Muir, Pyledriver wasn’t as regally bred as many of his contemporaries, having been purchased for the relatively tiny sum of 10,000 Guineas. However, that low-key pedigree and bargain price made little difference once the horse took to the track, as ably displayed in that tenacious Coronation Cup victory.

Persian Punch

  • Trainer – David Elsworth
  • Peak Official Rating – 122
  • Group Wins – Jockey Club Cup (2002,2003), Goodwood Cup (2003), Doncaster Cup (2003)

Of the many quality horses Dwyer rode during his career, perhaps none endeared themselves to the public quite to the extent as Persian Punch. Hailing from the yard of David Elsworth, this gallant stayer was the definition of guts on the racecourse and simply didn’t know how to go down without a fight. A veteran of no fewer than seven Ascot Gold Cups, he never managed to land the big one but was a 13-time winner at Group 3 level or above, with Dwyer the man in the saddle for the final six wins of his career – including a hugely popular victory in the 2003 Goodwood Cup.

Phoenix Reach

  • Trainer – Andrew Balding
  • Peak Official Rating – 116
  • Group 1 Wins – Canadian International (2003), Hong Kong Vase (2004), Dubai Sheema Classic (2005)

Whilst the majority of Dwyer’s career wins came on home turf, he wasn’t averse to travelling the globe in search of a winner. In 2012, Dwyer joined the likes of Richard Hughes, Michael Kinane and Walter Swinburn in adding a win in the Indian Derby to his CV, but the horse to most frequently take the lad from Liverpool to the international showstoppers went by the name of Phoenix Reach. This Andrew Balding-trained colt won three times at the highest level, with all three of those victories coming on foreign soil – including this £625,000 success in the 2005 Dubai Sheema Classic.