Jimmy Fortune hangs up his saddle after almost 30 years
Wexford-born Flat jockey to finish up career at Newmarket
Flat jockey Jimmy Fortune has announced his retirement at the age of 45. Photograph: Getty Images
Classic-winning jockey Jimmy Fortune has announced his retirement from the saddle after 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.
“It’s been a difficult decision. I love my racing, love the weighing room. It’s my life, so it’s been a difficult decision, but we all have to go sometime,” Fortune, 45, told Racing UK.
Fortune was speaking from Newmarket where he was set to bow out on Nathra in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes, which he won on Lady In Waiting in 1999.
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.
The following year he burst on to the scene with victory aboard 50-1 shot Joveworth as a 5lb claiming apprentice for trainer Mike O’Neill in the Ayr Gold Cup.
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.
Fortune also enjoyed great success internationally, particularly in India where he spent many a lucrative winter.
“There have been many good horses along the way. I’ve been fortunate and very lucky throughout to ride for some very good people. I’m very grateful to all of them,” he said.
“I’ve had some wonderful winters in India. I won two of the main Indian Derbys and won plenty of others.
“I’m very lucky I’m getting out in one piece. I’m very grateful to everyone that’s helped along the way.”
A back problem that surfaced in May and kept him off the track until August forced him to think about his future.
“When my back went this year it was a bit different and I was really struggling to get it right,” he said.
“I just felt when I came back I couldn’t put the workload in that I needed to, to be competitive, so in a way that set me off.
“I’ve got a few irons in the fire and I’ve a couple of weeks and months to think about what I want to do. I’ll take my time. I won’t rush into anything. Something will come along.”
Fellow rider Adam Kirby said: “It is very sad. Jimmy is a lovely man. It is not very nice when it comes to an end, I wish him all the best of luck.
“He is just a nice fellow. He is not an angry man. You ask him a question and he will always give you answer. He is just a really nice guy.”