ISTANBUL - Turkish horse-racing bid farewell to its greatest ever jockey as Süleyman Akdı called it a day after a magnificent career that spanned 44 years.

The 66-year-old Akdı’s contribution to the sport was hailed during a farewell night organized by the Turkish Jockey Club, or TJK, on Wednesday night.

This was the first time the club held a farewell event for a jockey, which indicates the importance of Akdı, nicknamed the Emperor because of his brilliant career.

"Looking back, it has been a long time, but I can not understand how 46 years have passed by so quickly," said Akdı. "Everything has an end, but what matters is leaving something good behind. I am very happy now. I was successful because I loved my job and worked with determination."

Singing praises
Attendees of the ceremony voiced their praise for the great jockey. "If a man is called the Emperor, he is certainly a great success," Istanbul Governor Muammer Güler said of Akdı, who won roughly 4,500 of 13,000 races.

TJK Chairman Yasin Kadri Ekinci said Akdı’s spell in horse-racing is not over as the jockey will now become a trainer.

"He will be even more important to us now he has quit riding. He is a true professional and will be a great example to new generations," Ekinci said.

Akdı said he would continue working in the racing community as a trainer and also work with apprentice jockeys.

"Of course young jockeys come to me and I always help them," he said on his new direction. "My advice to them is to work hard and never think they know everything. They should always be open to learn something new."