Respected Group One-winning Perth jockey Peter Knuckey has hung up his boots and retired from the saddle.

Knuckey has called time on his decorated riding career that spanned three decades and produced nearly 2000 winners.

The 50-year-old, who shot to prominence after winning the Perth Cup as an apprentice, rode his final race at Geraldton last December.

Retirement arrived earlier than planned, but after some health issues Knuckey deemed it the right time to bow out to ponder his future.

He says he walks away from racing filled with pride.

“It’s time to move on,” Knuckey said to The Races WA.

“It’s been pretty good for 30 plus years.

“It never felt like a real job.

“That’s the part I’m going to miss most, the banter at the track.

“But, you can’t do it forever and I’ve still got my health to consider.

“I have my family to think about, who have supported me all the way.

“Mum, my brother, Will and my two beautiful girls, Lizzie and Helena.

“I couldn’t have done it without their love and support.”

Knuckey leaves racing with a reputation as one of WA’s most talented and accomplished jockeys.

He won 1,923 races and had 3,853 placings from 19,297 starters.

A natural lightweight, his tally includes one Group 1 success, 13 Group 2 winners, 20 Group 3s and 92 Listed races.

He also rode successfully in Melbourne and internationally when Island Morn won the Group 2 Memsie Stakes at Caulfield and The Hornet claimed Singapore’s Group 3 Stayers Stakes.

Knuckey was Perth’s Champion Rider in 1993 and Leading Apprentice in 1992 and 1993.

He reached the top with Old Nick in the Group 1 Fruit ‘N’ Veg Stakes, now known as the Northerly Stakes, but became an instant household name after winning the Perth Cup on Field Officer in 1993.

Three years after commencing his apprenticeship with Colin Webster,  Knuckey emulated the feat of his father Peter Sr, who won the Perth Cup aboard Azennis in 1950 and Beau Scot in 1954.

Knuckey won 126 stakes races, but says winning the Perth Cup as an apprentice and following in the footsteps of his father stands out as the highlight of his career.

“Of course it is,” Knuckey said.

“I can still remember that race from the time we jumped out of the gates.

“I was 18, it’s our best race and the crowds were huge those days.

“Everyone remembers the Perth Cup.”

Knuckey farewells racing holding a clutch of major Perth wins: Three Karrakatta Plates, three WA Sires, an Asian Beau, a Champions Fillies, a Ted Van Heemst Stakes, a Winterbottom and a Lee Steere are trophies that sit proudly on his mantel piece.

However, although he has no regrets, there’s one race that slipped through his grasp.

“I wanted to win a Railway (Stakes),” Knuckey said.

“I’ve run three seconds and at some stages of the home straight they all looked like they were going to win.

“I remember saying to my nanna if I win a Railway I would retire the next day and be happy.

“Comfort Me finished second twice and ran his heart out.

“Platinum Rocker was another nice horse for Simon Miller.”

Field Officer, Old Nick, Whispering Brook, Power Princess, Diffraction Platinum Rocker, Roman Time, Fabergino and Baby Paris were some of Perth’s top horses that were led to victory by Knuckey, but if he’s to be drawn on nominating his favourite all-time horse, he goes for a chestnut gelding trained by John Price.

“Arctic Park won 17 races and I won 15 of them,” Knuckey said.

“I missed his first ride when I was suspended.

“That’s the most I’ve ever won on a horse.

“Whispering Brook won five in a row, she was a star two-year-old and a good one.”

Knuckey said loyalty from long-serving trainers including Adam Durrant, Simon Miller, George Daly, Shane Edwards, Steve Wolfe and in later years Gordon Spowart and Willie Parker were important factors in his success, but he holds special reverence for Webster.

Webster, 84, is regarded as the doyen of WA racing and was the trainer of Rogan Josh before recommending his transfer to iconic trainer Bart Cumming who prepared the gelding to win the 1999 Melbourne Cup.

Knuckey said Webster, a noted mentor of WA’s top apprentices for multiple years and his wife Lyn, in addition to racing knowledge, taught and instilled in him important all round life skills.

“My dad always said Colin Webster is the Theo Green of WA,” Knuckey said.

“Theo Green back in those days had all the star apprentices in Sydney.

“That’s why he got me into that stable and he was right.

“Colin’s advice was always to keep working hard and that’s the guidance I give to other people.

“There are a lot of jockeys who were probably more talented but didn’t have the work ethic which takes you a long, long way.

“That’s the way he brought us up, you keep working hard and you make your own luck.

“Colin gave me a good start and I had four good years, the best four years with him.

“Colin, Lyn and their boys, Colin Jr, Brad and Pete are all good friends today.

“They looked after us, not only those four years, but the last 30 years.

“They have always supported all their apprentices, even prior to me.

“They have been and to this day are a big part of my family.”

Six months after riding in his last race, Knuckey is getting accustomed to what life outside of racing as a jockey might look like.

He’s still uncertain how the next phase of his professional life will turn out, but is not shy of exploring new options.

“I don’t think I’m missing it as I thought I would,” Knuckey said.

“It was a good job, but you didn’t think of it as a job.

“I can move into something else, but it might not be with racing.

“I haven’t decided where I’m going to head to.

“I’m keeping those options open and see what is around the corner.

“Racing has been good to me and somewhere along the line I think I will come back to the sport.

“To what capacity I don’t know and when it will be I’m not sure either.”

From the moment he walked into the jockey’s room as an apprentice, Knuckey has won over racing fans and his peers with dedication and commitment.

Understated and media shy, he preferred to let his work in the saddle be his mouthpiece.

Knuckey hopes he has made an important and lasting contribution to racing.

“There’s been a lot of good jockeys come and go and I’ve been lucky to last 30 plus years,” Knuckey said.

“I didn’t like making a fuss, I just wanted to be a hard worker.

“On the track we were all competitive, but off the track we were all friends.

“I pretty much wanted to get on a horse and get the job done.

“Whether it was Ascot, Belmont, Geraldton, Albany, getting the job done is what I liked to do.

“The owners had their say but I wanted to make sure I could do the best job for the trainer.

“I’m pretty sure with my dad, who I didn’t see race, was well respected and I pretty much followed in his footsteps.

“He was always supportive and the main thing he would say is make sure you put yourself in good circles and keep your nose clean.”

Julio Santarelli