A Tribute To The Jockeys Who Retired In 2017

The new year is underway, so it seems a good time to remind ourselves which jockeys decided to hang up their boots in 2017. While it is true that they enjoyed varying degrees of success, all risked life and limb for the sport we all love. There are no braver athletes than horse racing jockeys and we should all salute the courageous men and women who fight for honours, week in and week out.

Jimmy Fortune

Jimmy Fortune

Fortune ended his career in elite company, partnering 3rd-placed Nathra in the G1 Sun Chariot Stakes at Headquarters in October.

Formerly a stable jockey for John Gosden, Fortune rode more than 1800 winners including Lucarno in the 2007 St Leger.

BBC horse racing correspondent, Cornelius Lysaght responded to the announcement by saying “Fortune was among the very best at galvanising a mount when the chips were down. That ensured a big following in the UK, but also elsewhere – notably in India where he enjoyed much success during several European winters. Having become part of the racing ‘furniture’ over nearly 30 years, hopefully he will remain involved.”

Willy Twiston-Davies

The son of Nigel broke two vertebrae and two ribs, in a fall at the Cheltenham Festival and has decided to call it a day at just 23 years of age.

Doctors had cleared Willy to race again, but he won’t be adding to his list of 200 winners which includes the 2016 King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot and he’ll now focus on breeding and training horses.

“Obviously I will miss it a lot, but at the same time I can see myself training one day, perhaps when dad calls it a day, and I’m also keen to concentrate on the bloodstock side of things. The injuries have been difficult, but that’s not the reason I’m stopping and I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my career” he says.

Harry Challoner

Challoner’s retirement, which came at the age of 27, serves as a reminder that many jump jockeys earn barely enough money to survive despite taking great risks every time they go out on the track.

He rode out his claim in 2016, but soon found that he was simply unable to make enough cash from the sport and he quit in May of this year.

“I kind of decided last summer. I had a good season with 18 winners but I weighed the job up and I really hadn’t made much money. It isn’t that profitable at that level as a jump jockey. Circumstances are changing at home with my dad needing more help on the farm so it was a combination of things.”

Challoner will probably be best remembered for his successful partnerships with Pret A Thou and Truckers Highway, as he won 13 races on those two horses alone. He leaves the sport with good memories and said “I was able to go to the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree and the Scottish Grand National, and I’m grateful for the opportunities but it’s time for the next chapter.”

Paul Moloney

Paul Moloney

Moloney hung up his boots at 38, following a distinguished career that was mostly spent attached to Evan Williams’ Welsh stable. He was injured in January, due to a fall at Sedgefield and failed to recover from this.

Moloney won the 2006 Hennessy Gold Cup, on State Of Play. He will also be remembered for great partnerships with the likes of Deep Purple, Barizan, Court Minstrel and Buywise.

Williams paid tribute to the man he trusted with steering duties on so many occasions, saying “It’s a big blow to the yard because he’s been such a wonderful man to work with. We both found each other at the right time of our careers. I was starting and he was coming over from Ireland. We had a wonderful working relationship and some great days. I’ve enjoyed every single second working with him. We’re all behind his retirement because it’s the right thing for him and his family. Fingers crossed he can get on with the rest of his life and we’ve got so many happy memories”.

Martin Lane

Lane was Champion Apprentice in 2010 and has been a consistent jockey, ever since. He signed-off, earlier this month, with victory on-board Godolphin’s Crown Walk.

He retires in rude health, following a job offer in Fiji that was simply too good to turn down. He will be Operations Manager at a new resort.

“We all have to retire at some stage and I’ve had some great days. I was approached with a really good job and one I couldn’t refuse. I’ve loved race riding and I still love it, but we all have to retire at some stage an the right offer is there for me. I’ll be moving to Fiji and becoming operations manager for a new island resort. It’s very different from what I’m currently doing and what I’ve always done but it’s something that’s exciting and I’m really looking forward to starting it.”

His 430 winners includes a G1 success with Sheikhzayedroad in Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, at Woodbine in 2014.

Mikey Fogarty

Mikey Fogarty

Fogarty also retired in December, after a decade in the saddle. While he rarely secured the really plum rides, Fogarty still amassed 130 winners including the 2014 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle with Don Poli for Willie Mullins.

Other notable wins were the Goffs Land Rover Bumper on Divine Rhapsody at the Punchestown Festival in 2014 and the Grade Two Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle on Fiscal Focus at Leopardstown in the same year. He will now devote his time to the family business.

“I took a break the summer before last as well. It’s something I’ve thought about for quite a while. I had a couple of winners at Cheltenham and obviously the one at the Festival is the main one. I also rode one there as an amateur for Peter Bowen. I had other good days, winning at Galway and the amateur Derby at the Curragh. I’ve moved back home in Wexford with my brother working in the family business at Gaynestown Stud.”

Steve Drowne

The man who rode Jwala to victory in the 2013 Nunthorpe also hangs up his boots, as the year draws to a close. Drowne won a total of 6 Group 1 encounters, during a career which spanned four decades. His first winner was Sigwell’s Gold, for Richard Holder.

“I had my first winner 27 years ago and been hard at it for 25 years or so, it’s all-encompassing and you get a bit institutionalised. There was no one moment when I decided that would be that, but every year it’s getting harder financially and it just seemed like the right time. It’s hard in the winter, there aren’t as many rides going as there used to be, and you basically make your money in that two-or-three-month window in the summer.”

He will now join the BHA, as a stipendiary steward and will not be taking the role lightly.

“At my age there aren’t too many options in racing and I didn’t want to go down the professional work-rider or assistant trainer route, so I approached the BHA last summer to see if there might be something like this going. Although I’m a bit apprehensive, that’s simply because I’ve spent so long riding and this will be new to me. I’m hoping all my experience will stand me in good stead.”

Cathy Gannon

Cathy Gannon

Gannon has been forced to retire, following a dreadful injury that almost led to her left foot being amputated. She has long been held in high regard, for her tenacity and courage in the saddle. We selected her among our ‘Women Set To Dominate Racing Over The Next Ten Years’ article, that was published last year.

No amount of bravery could avert this decision though and the racing industry is simply relieved that she has survived in one piece.

“It’s very hard, but I have to retire. I have to think of my family and look to the future. There are a lot of jockeys forced out far worse than me, so I’m lucky it’s not severe.”

Gannon was Champion Apprentice in 2004 and went on to ride 440 winners. The brilliant Irish horsewoman was named Lady Jockey of the Year, in 2010, 2011 and 2015.

Speaking about the injury, she said “I didn’t realise how serious it was at the time, but my specialist reminded me they nearly had to amputate my foot, so I’m lucky to still have it.”

She will now focus on coaching jockeys.

Steven Clements

The Northern Ireland amateur was able to tuck into the Christmas pudding, over the festive period! Clements, who has always struggled with making the weight, has finally decided to give up the struggle.

He partnered Oiseau De Nuit to win the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase in 2011, but he has had no rides since October and his racing career is at an end.

Speaking of his retirement, he said “It’s not that I wanted to do it, maybe if I was a bit mentally stronger I could have stuck to it better but I’ve never been a light fella and it was always a struggle. I was just getting through it with ignorance. I had forgotten how to enjoy myself I think. I wouldn’t go out and never had a drink. Even for my first ride when I was 16 I had to have a sweat.”

He went on to reveal just how much the victory on Oiseau De Nuit meant to him.

“Winning was probably the best and worst thing that ever happened to me because it fueled an ambition for more winners but in reality it wasn’t always possible. Every year I believed I’d win because there was no feeling like it. I can assure you that the guys who take the drugs will know no feeling to the one I felt after winning at Cheltenham.”

A Rich Legacy

These riders have collectively made a massive contribution to the sport and all will be missed. Between them, they rode well-over 3000 winners which include many Group/Grade 1 victories. Let’s hope that most stay involved in racing, as they all have a huge amount to offer the sport we love. Each jockey is now writing a new chapter in their life and RaceBets would like to wish them all the very best of luck.


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