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Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

'It was my first Classic win and it had been a long time coming'

Jimmy Fortune reflects on his favourites from nearly 30 years as a jockey

Jimmy Fortune
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Jimmy Fortune arrived in England as a 15-year-old in 1987 to be apprenticed to Mike O'Neill and he has been a fixture ever since, renowned especially by peers such as Kieren Fallon for his strength in the saddle.

After making his name in the north he rode as second jockey to Luca Cumani until the Aga Khan's horses were taken away, then returned north for a spell as a freelance before being taken on as retained rider for David Barron and then Lynda Ramsden, for whom he replaced Fallon.

A retainer with Robert Sangster led to his first Group 1 win, for Peter Chapple-Hyam at Manton, and then a golden spell with John Gosden, in which he rode a whole host more top-class winners until replaced by William Buick.

In recent years he has ridden more winners for Brian Meehan and Andrew Balding than for any other trainers, Agent Murphy and Tullius being particular favourites from the period.


Joveworth Monsanto - Flitterdale
Trainer Mike O'Neill
Owner DCG Cooper
Big win 1989 Ladbrokes Ayr Gold Cup
I'd ridden my first winner more than a year earlier and my claim was down to 5lb, but I guess it was Joveworth who got me noticed. He was a 50-1 chance for the Ayr Gold Cup, but not in my head or Mike's. We thought he'd win.

It was the year they ran the St Leger at Ayr and it was atrocious ground. We knew Joveworth would love it and he'd been winning at up to a mile so he was going to get home all right. It was my first big win and we beat Chaplin's Club and Kevin Darley.

Commander Collins Sadler's Wells - Kanmary
Trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam
Owner Robert Sangster
Big win 1998 Racing Post Trophy
I'd only just got the job with Robert Sangster when Commander Collins gave me a first Group 1 win, so that was pretty significant at the time. Again, the ground was atrocious, and he just galloped them into the ground, winning very easily by seven lengths.

Peter [Chapple-Hyam], who is still a good friend to this day, was a great man to ride for and he had a real gift with those good horses. Commander Collins looked exceptional that day and they made him ante-post favourite for the Guineas and the Derby, but for whatever reason he just didn't train on. He ran in the Guineas and stayed in training at four after John Gosden took over from Peter at Manton, but he never won again.

Lucarno Dynaformer - Vignette
Trainer John Gosden
Owner George Strawbridge
Big wins 2007 St Leger and Great Voltigeur, 2008 Princess Of Wales's Stakes
Lucarno was a massive big, long horse and quite headstrong, but very genuine. He never ran at two but was fourth in the Derby, when I was off injured, and then ran at Newmarket before winning the Voltigeur at York, where we made all only because they let us. That wasn't the way to ride him in the Leger, and they went a good pace which helped him settle.

A first Classic in the St Leger on Lucarno

I don't think he came off the bridle until about a furlong out, and he won well, but that was far enough for him as to my mind he was a mile-and-a-half horse. I think he won purely on class, and it took a lot more out of him than we realised. It was my first Classic win and I was 35, so it had been a long time coming.

Sleeping Indian Indian Ridge - Las Flores
Trainer John Gosden
Owner George Strawbridge
Big wins 2005 Hungerford Stakes, 2006 Challenge Stakes
Sleeping Indian was never quite top class but I used to love him. He was never the soundest and lived with his issues, but he was a complete gentleman and would never let you down. He was quite delicate but John did a great job with him and we won six times, culminating in the Challenge Stakes at Newmarket, which was a Group 2 but on Champions Day so one of the biggest days of the year. I just loved his attitude.

Dar Re Mi Singspiel - Darara
Trainer John Gosden
Owner Lord Lloyd-Webber
Big wins 2009 Pretty Polly Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks, Prix Vermeille (disqualified)
This is where it gets tricky, as I rode a lot of great horses in seven good years with John Gosden. Raven's Pass might have been the best I rode for John and we had a great day at Ascot when we got the better of Henrythenavigator at last on the fourth attempt before Frankie took over at Santa Anita, as he was always going to after the colt's sale to Sheikh Mohammed. I won a Fillies' Mile and a Coronation Stakes on Nannina, who wanted it rattling fast, and Rainbow View was a champion two-year-old filly when unbeaten in 2008. I won a Middle Park on Oasis Dream when Hughesie was injured and a Lockinge on Virtual. I've no doubt missed a couple more I should have mentioned too, but the final spot goes to Dar Re Mi.

Dar Re Mi (centre) beats Sariska (left) in Yorkshire Oaks
She was very straightforward and genuine, she stayed well and didn't pull. She was a joy to ride and we won three successive Group 1s, only to lose the last of them to a political decision by the stewards at Longchamp. We'd already won the Pretty Polly and beaten Sariska in the Yorkshire Oaks when we went for the Vermeille, where we barely brushed the fifth filly Soberania on our way to beating Stacelita, who had never been beaten and was their big filly that year. We would never have lost the race at home, but we were disqualified.

Dar Re Mi went on to finish a close fifth to Sea The Stars in the Arc, ahead of the Irish Derby winner Fame And Glory and Stacelita again, She was a very good filly indeed.


And one I wish I had ridden . . .

Sea The Stars
Like every jockey I would have loved to have ridden Frankel, but Sea The Stars was another I had huge admiration for, and I'm sure he was a better horse than they were ever able to rate him.

I rode against him a few times, including on Rip Van Winkle in the Eclipse, where I remember I went there to beat him and he just went again, which is what he did. He would only do enough and was playing with us, and that's probably one reason he held his form so well at the top level.

To do what he did later in the Arc, having been set alight by being flattened two or three times, was unbelievable.

He was a 50-1 chance for the Ayr Gold Cup, but not in my head or Mike's. We thought he'd win

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