MARCUS TOWNEND: Ordinary Joe Fanning is no ordinary jockey… but Irish star is at his happiest away from the limelight after Ayr Gold Cup triumph
The spotlight has inevitably been on a 52-year-old who will retire at the end of the year all season, but it was a jockey a year older than Frankie Dettori who stole the spotlight last weekend.
Joe Fanning secured a last-ditch victory over Significantly in the Ayr Gold Cup, reaching an appropriately important milestone later in the afternoon thanks to his success on Charlie Johnston’s Capital Theory.
It was the 2,811th win of Fanning’s career and moved him past Joe Mercer into seventh place on the list of most successful British Flatjockeys.
The names above Fanning are a who’s who of the weighing room: Sir Gordon Richards, Pat Eddery, Lester Piggott, Willie Carson, Doug Smith and Dettori. Fanning is the most successful Flat jockey never to be crowned champion.
Most of his victories have come at meetings on the northern circuit, away from the spotlight.
Joe Fanning took a last-ditch victory over Significantly in the Ayr Gold Cup
It was the 2,811th win of Fanning’s career and moved him past Joe Mercer into seventh place on the list of most successful British Flat jockeys.
Dettori’s achievements have made him known outside the sport, but Fanning’s profile is so low it’s almost underground and that’s how he likes it.
When I interviewed him in 2019, the Dublin-born rider, raised in County Wicklow, said: ‘I’m not on Twitter or Facebook or anything like that. I’m not pushing my profile, but I’m happy enough with the way things have gone in my career.
‘I just ride along. I don’t feel comfortable in the spotlight. I just don’t like hassle.’
Fanning spent most of last year on the sidelines after suffering a double fracture in his left shoulder at Musselburgh, which ruled him out for seven months.
He only returned to the saddle in February, but Mr Consistency has still had 72 winners this year, even if his tally is well below the peak of 2013 when he had 156 winners.
Fanning is literally a regular Joe, who is flat and unfailingly polite. He will never walk past you without saying a cheerful hello.
The last time I saw him was on the Sunday of Doncaster’s St Leger meeting.
He drove by as I walked back to my car and there were waves and smiles.
That makes it easy to admire what Fanning has accomplished and be so happy for him.
Beckett and Crowley meet in Paris
Trainer Ralph Beckett and jockey Jim Crowley will be rivals in Sunday’s Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe, with the former hoping for a big run from Westover and the latter riding second favorite Hukum.
But last weekend they were allies as Crowley secured a welcome win over Beckett’s City Burglar in Ayr.
There has been a shortage of winners since he won the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Hukum at Ascot in late July.
A twenty-day ban under the whip rules in the King George did not help Crowley’s case; he missed the Ebor meeting in York, where stalwart Mostahdaf won the Juddmonte International Stakes under Frankie Dettori. But going into Ayr, Crowley’s losing run was almost 50 rides.
How much it matters whether a jockey is ‘on form’ is debatable, but like a goalless striker or a cricketer with a string of low scores, you have to have quite a resilient character not to be under-confident. slightly dented.
Crowley will no doubt be happy and relieved to be back in the winners enclosure ahead of a huge week.
from Shishkin dressage distraction
There will be an interested observer when the Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin takes part in some of the big chases this season.
At his owners’ day on Sunday, the Lambourn trainer revealed that the nine-year-old had spent a month doing dressage with Zara Tindall to build core strength and give a gelding who gets easily bored a change of scenery.
Shishkin’s transition from two-mile chaser to a contender in steep chases over three miles and beyond was complete last season when he stayed on with the aim of beating Ahoy Senor in the Aintree Bowl Chase.
His first major target is the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day after a possible preliminary run in Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase or Haydock’s Betfair Chase.
Champion trainer Nicky Henderson revealed Shishkin (above) spent a month with Zara Tindall in dressage to build core strength
A touch of nostalgia Jarvis exit
When trainer William Jarvis announced his retirement this weekend, it was hard for racing fans of a certain age not to feel a tinge of nostalgia.
Jarvis followed his father Ryan, who was successful in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, into the sport after learning the ropes under Sir Henry Cecil in a brilliant era when the great miler Kris, among others, was among the horses of the stable belonged.
Jarvis has never won a British Classic, but he came agonizingly close when the Frankie Dettori-ridden Grand Lodge, the previous season’s two-year-old champion, was beaten by a short head by Mister Baileys in the 1994 2,000 Guineas.
Compensation awaited when Grand Lodge, now ridden by Mick Kinane, won the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in the side of Lord Howard de Walden.
In a career spanning 38 years, Jarvis has trained more than 700 winners. In recent years the offering has been smaller, but there was one final Group 1 success for Jarvis when the mare Lady Bowthorpe won the 2021 Nassau Stakes, sparking emotional scenes at Glorious Goodwood.