Nicky Henderson fittingly led the tributes to Mick Fitzgerald following the annoucement of his retirement.

Fitzgerald has been part of the furniture at the Seven Barrows stable in Lambourn since the mid-1990s, riding a total of 762 winners for that one trainer alone.

"His greatest attribute to us was that he wasn't just a jockey, he was a team player as far as we were concerned and a great mate. His input was enormous," said Henderson.

"He obviously was a very, very good rider, he was very strong and very good at presenting a horse at an obstacle, but there was much more to it than that.

"We've had a long association, but it was very easy as he was always 100 per cent and the owners knew that.

"We all became friends, and it was easy to work and when you think he rode 762 winners for us, which is an awful lot for one yard. That's amazing."

Trabolgan's victory in the 2005 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup came just days after Fitzgerald had got back in the saddle following a serious neck injury.

"He'd only been back a week from the previous neck injury, so that victory on Trabolgan in the Hennessy was very special. He had been worried if he would ever get back," Henderson added.

Fitzgerald bagged two Cheltenham features on Paul Nicholls-runners, with See More Business prevailing in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Call Equiname landing the Champion Chase in 1999.

Nicholls said: "He's obviously been a top-class jockey for many years and a great ambassador for the sport.

"We will all undoubtedly miss him, but I think it was the right decision.

"I'm sure whatever he goes on to do, he will do it in the same professional manner as he did in his riding career.

"He's had a lot of injuries and everyone is just glad to see him retire in one piece."

Jamie Osborne, a former retained jockey at Henderson's, was pleased Fitzgerald had finally decided to call it a day.

"He's a great fella, been a great rider and he's got out nearly in one piece," he said.