Tuesday 16 July 2019

Fortune hangs up his saddle

Jockey retires after 30 years

Ferns jockey Jimmy Fortune who has retired after 30 years
Ferns jockey Jimmy Fortune who has retired after 30 years


Jimmy Fortune from Ferns has retired as a jockey after a terrific career that has brought him more than 1,800 winners, including a classic success among 16 at the highest Group 1 level, after finishing an excellent third on 20-1 chance Nathra for his old boss John Gosden in Saturday's Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket.

He was emotional as he returned to the winners' enclosure on Nathra to the crowd's applause ahead of the winner, Ryan Moore on Aidan O'Brien's Roly Poly. 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'.

Part of the reason he has had to make this choice now is a niggling back injury which he suffered last May.

It kept him out of action for some months and he feels he might not be able to give one hundred per cent in future, and he would not be happy with that.

Born in Ferns, Jimmy was another graduate of the 'Jim Bolger Academy' before moving to Britain in 1987. He has been a model of consistency ever since.

Twelve times his seasonal winnings exceeded one million pounds, and he won more than two millions pounds in prize money in 2008 and 2009.

He broke the one hundred winners in a season landmark twice, in 1998 (108) and 2007 (110).

He was at the peak of his career when he was stable jockey with the powerful John Gosden yard for seven years, the highlights being his classic victory aboard Lucarno in the St. Leger in 2007, and he was leading rider at the Royal Ascot meeting with a remarkable six winners in 2006.

He left on Saturday in seventh place in the top ten winners' list for jockeys currently riding in Britain on 1,780 wins.

Incidentally, Jimmy Quinn from New Ross is ninth with 1,566 winners since his first in 1986. Frankie Dettori leads that list with 3,083, with Joe Fanning second (2,250) and Ryan Moore is third (2,056).

Jimmy has also had some very successful winter seasons on the thriving Indian circuit, winning some of their biggest races

Warm tributes were paid to Jimmy by his fellow jockeys after his final ride, and by the trainers he has served so well for so long.

Tony Hinds was his agent for the past 25 years and he commented: 'Jimmy is an absolute gentleman to deal with.

'He's also among the most respected riders among his peers in the weighroom'.

Jimmy suffered a tragedy three and a half years ago when his wife, Jan, died suddenly after a brain aneurism. He and his family coped with that disaster and he returned to the saddle.

After more than 30 years working with horses, Jimmy 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,' but it will be very nice for him to share this new phase of his life with his two boys.

Jimmy comes from Coolbawn, Ferns. His dad, Tommy, died a few years ago but his mother, brothers and sisters and other family members are all still around the area.

They may see a bit more of Jimmy now that his gruelling racing schedule has concluded.

Gorey Guardian