Jimmy Fortune is looking to the future after announcing his retirement from the saddle following 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 off the track until August ultimately forced him to consider calling time on his riding days.

Fortune, 45, said: “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.

“Even though you feel you should do it, it is still not an easy decision to make. 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.

“It is not a decision I made lightly, but I am glad I did as I have a few irons in the fire. I’ve got the rest of my life to look forward to and hopefully my back will improve a bit.

“I am conscious of the fact I’ve two boys to look after. They are 17 and 18, but they are still kids and hopefully I’m going to build up a business that I can pass on to them. I’ve had all that in mind over the last year.”

Fortune was speaking at Newmarket, where he bowed out on the Gosden-trained Nathra in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes, finishing a fine third in a race he won on Lady In Waiting in 1999.

He went on: “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. 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.”

Jimmy Fortune celebrates winning the St Leger at Doncaster in 2007 aboard LucarnoJimmy Fortune celebrates winning the St Leger at Doncaster in 2007 aboard Lucarno (John Giles/PA)

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.

Oasis Dream and Jimmy Fortune win the Middle Park Stakes at NewmarketOasis Dream and Jimmy Fortune win the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket (Andrew Parsons/PA)

He said: “There are many great highlights. 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.

“I suppose the QEII and the Fillies’ Mile were very special on Raven’s Pass and Rainbow View, there has been many special days along the way and there is Nannina winning the Coronation.

“I’ve probably forgot half of them as they are that long ago. 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.”