English Classic-winning jockey Jimmy Fortune is looking to the future after announcing his retirement ffrom a career spanning almost 30 years.
As well as winning the St Leger at Doncaster on Lucarno for trainer John Gosden in 2007, Fortune won a host of other big races, including the 2008 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Raven’s Pass and the Yorkshire Oaks on Dar Re Mi in 2009.
A back problem that surfaced in May and kept him sidelined until August ultimately forced him to consider calling time on his riding days and he announced before Newmarket on Saturday, the meeting would be his last.
“I just felt I couldn’t go flat at it with the injury I had. If you can’t give it everything you lose the support of the people around you. I was more or less forced to call it a day,” Fortune said..
“It has been my life. It is never easy, but it comes to us all. It is a hard place to leave and if things had been right I would have had another five years.”
Fortune bowed out on the John Gosden-trained Nathra in the Sun Chariot Stakes, finishing a fine third in a race he won on Lady In Waiting in 1999.
“My last ride before this was in a Class Six at Kempton on Wednesday and I wasn’t going to call it a day on that,” Fortune said.
“When John gave me the ride on this filly. I said to my agent that I am highly unlikely to get another ride in a Group One, so let’s do it today.
“It was lovely to do it on one of John’s as he has been very supportive over the years. He is a great man and we all know what a great trainer he is.”
Born in Wexford, Fortune was apprenticed with Jim Bolger in Ireland. He was first licensed in 1987 and moved to the UK, where his first win came at Thirsk in 1988, riding Hitchinstown.
He went on to partner such stars as Oasis Dream in the 2002 Middle Park Stakes and Nannina in both the 2008 Fillies’ Mile and the 2009 Coronation Stakes.
“There are many great highlights,” Fortune said.
“My first Classic in the St Leger on Lucarno in 2007 was probably my best year. That was the year I was the leading rider at Royal Ascot.
“There have been lots of special days and I can only be grateful for the owners and trainers that have used me over the years.
“I’m very lucky I’m getting out in one piece.”