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Leading rider Fortune calls time on distinguished career

Jimmy Fortune: pictured following his final ride in the Sun Chariot Stakes
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Jimmy Fortune brought the curtain down on a career that has yielded more than 1,800 winners, including 16 at the highest level, after finishing an excellent third on 20-1 chance Nathra for his old boss John Gosden in Saturday's Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

Looking emotional as he returned on Nathra to the crowd's applause ahead of the winner, Fortune said: "I am sad to be leaving the weighing room – you want to go on forever but I had to be realistic but it was not an easy decision to make."

Fortune, who feels his troublesome back will not stand up to riding work, is looking forward to starting a property business with his two teenage sons.

"I have been interested in that for a long time and am excited and looking forward to making a go of it. Racing is still in my blood and I will be keeping in touch."

Fortune, 45, sprang to prominence with a 50-1 win on Joveworth in the 1989 Ayr Gold Cup while still claiming 5lb and gained his first Group 1 win on Commander Collins in the 1998 Racing Post Trophy in his first season as retained jockey to Robert Sangster.

Confirming his retirement on Saturday morning, Fortune said the back injury he suffered at Newbury in the spring that has restricted his opportunities was a factor in his decision but preferred to concentrate on the positives in what he regards as his "amazing time as a jockey".


TOP TEN CURRENT FLAT JOCKEYS IN BRITAIN

Wins | Jockey | First win
3,083 Frankie Dettori (1987)
2,250 Joe Fanning (1990)
2,056 Ryan Moore (2000)
2,021 Jamie Spencer (1998)
1,810 Darryll Holland (1990)
1,797 Paul Hanagan (1999)
1,780 JIMMY FORTUNE (1988)
1,673 Dane O'Neill (1993)
1,566 Jimmy Quinn (1986)
1,540 Neil Callan (1998)


He said: "I've had a great career but it's been on my mind for a little while and today felt like the right time, in a Group 1 for a trainer who has done such a lot for me."

Fortune had his only Classic success on Lucarno in the 2007 St Leger during a long and fruitful association with Gosden. Their partnership yielded a host of top-grade wins, including the Fillies' Mile and Coronation Stakes on Nannina, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Raven's Pass, the Middle Park on Oasis Dream and the Pretty Polly Stakes, Yorkshire Oaks and Prix Vermeille on Dar Re Mi, although she was controversially disqualified from the Longchamp race.

His many other wins for Gosden included the Hungerford and Challenge Stakes on Sleeping Indian, who was never a Group 1 winner but was nevertheless a particular favourite.

Dream team: Jimmy Fortune with John Gosden after landing the 2011 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket on Masked Marvel

More recently he has been associated with Brian Meehan and Andrew Balding, and last year he won the Cambridgeshire for Meehan on Spark Plug and the Diomed for Balding on Tullius.

Looking back, Fortune added: "I owe my thanks to Mike O'Neill [Joveworth's trainer] for bringing me over, as I wouldn't have been here without him, and also my agent Tony Hind, who has done my rides for 25 years and has done a great job for me. I think I'm just about the only one of his jockeys who he hasn't made champion!

"I've been lucky to have had some great times with top trainers and owners, from my time as an apprentice with Luca Cumani, then on to David Barron, then the retainer with the Ramsdens when Kieren Fallon left which then led to the job with Robert Sangster when Peter Chapple-Hyam was his trainer.

"I had great times with Peter, then rode for Paul Cole when he had some of his best years, and then had seven great years with John [Gosden]. I've had good times with Brian Meehan and Andrew Balding of course and plenty more, including Hughie Morrison, the Hannons and many more. I'm grateful to them all."

Classic success for Jimmy Fortune on Lucarno in the 2007 St Leger
Lucarno's St Leger at Doncaster was an obvious stand-out among Fortune's distinguished list of big race wins, but many of his other  highlights came at Ascot.

He recalled: "My best week in racing would have been when I was top jockey at Royal Ascot in 2006, with wins in the Coronation on Nannina, the Norfolk on Winker Watson, the Hunt Cup on Royal Oath, the Jersey on Tariq, the Wokingham on Baltic King and the Ascot Stakes on Full House.

"My best day in racing would probably also have been at Ascot, in 2008, when I won the Fillies' Mile on Rainbow View and the QEII on Raven's Pass."


JIMMY FORTUNE CV

Full name James Joseph Fortune
Born Wexford, June 14, 1972
Apprenticed to Mike O'Neill, Luca Cumani
First winner Hitchenstown (trainer Eric Alston) Thirsk, July 29, 1988
First big-race winner Joveworth (1989 Ayr Gold Cup)
First Group winner Commander Collins (1998 Racing Post Trophy)
Top-rated mount Raven's Pass (RPR 131 in 2008 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes)
British Classic winner Lucarno (2007 St Leger)
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner Raven's Pass (2008)
Sussex Stakes winner Court Masterpiece (2006)
Lockinge Stakes winner Virtual (2009)
Coronation Stakes winner Nannina (2006)
Yorkshire Oaks winner Dar Re Mi (2009)
Middle Park Stakes winner Oasis Dream (2002)
Other Group 1 winners Commander Collins (1998 Racing Post Trophy), Mount Abu (2001 Prix de la Foret), Playful Act (2004 Fillies' Mile), Nannina (2005 Fillies' Mile), Linngari (2007 Premio Vittorio di Capua), Rainbow View (2008 Fillies' Mile, 2009 Matron Stakes), Serious Attitude (2008 Cheveley Park Stakes), Dar Re Mi (2009 Pretty Polly Stakes)
Most valuable win 303,915 (Lucarno, 2007 St Leger)
Champion apprentice 1990 (47 wins)
Top jockey at Royal Ascot 2007 (5 wins)
Highest position in jockeys' table joint-4th in 1998 (108 wins)
Most wins in a year in Britain 110 (2007)
Total wins in Britain 1,780 in 30 years
Compiled by John Randall


Four of the best for Fortune

Lucarno 
Jimmy Fortune left it well into his career to register a deserved Classic winner when Lucarno swept aside the Aidan O'Brien raiders led by Mahler to win the 2007 St Leger. Fortune rode the John Gosden-trained colt in 12 of his 14 races, starting with a maiden success on the all-weather at Kempton and including the Great Voltigeur before his Classic win. Fortune also rode him in top international races the following year.

Raven's Pass
With every race things got better and better for Raven’s Pass, who was partnered by Fortune in ten of his 12 outings including the 2008 Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II. Fortune steered the John Gosden-trained colt to some scintillating successes, such as a seven-length win in the Solario Stakes and victory in the Celebration Mile. Better was to come when Raven’s Pass finally defeated nemesis Henrythenavigator at Ascot after finishing behind him in the 2,000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes.

Dar Re Mi
Fortune rode the Gosden filly to three of her six career wins, including back-to-back Group 1s in 2009 when the jockey was seen at his best dictating the pace in the Pretty Polly at the Curragh and got the Lloyd Webbers' star home by a short-head. Success in the Yorkshire Oaks at York two months later was more definitive, when the partnership beat that year's Oaks winner Sariska by three-quarters of a length. The pair also won the Prix Vermeille, but were controversially disqualified.

Dar Re Mi (centre) beats Sariska (left) in Yorkshire Oaks

Oasis Dream
While Richard Hughes is remembered for winning the July Cup and Nunthorpe on Khalid Abdullah's champion sprinter, Fortune rode him to a runaway maiden win at Nottingham before landing the 2002 Middle Park, in which he saw off Mick Kinane on the Aidan O'Brien-trained Tomahawk and the favourite Elusive City.


From the archives: Jimmy Fortune reflects on his career in My Life in Horses


 

I've had a great career but it's been on my mind for a while, and it felt like the right time, in a Group 1 for a trainer who has done so much for me
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