Fortune lands popular success
Jimmy Fortune drove What About Carlo to an emotional success in the Investec Out Of The Ordinary Handicap, the opening race on Derby Day at Epsom.
Fortune's wife, Jan, died suddenly three weeks ago and he only returned to the saddle this week.
Eve Johnson Houghton's What About Carlo (9-1) was an impressive winner at Sandown earlier in the season but had disappointed in heavy ground at Haydock two weeks ago.
Fortune only had a couple behind him turning into the straight, yet he brought his mount smoothly on the outside of Black Shadow, who just held off Hymenaios for second but was two lengths behind the impressive winner.
Fortune said: "He's a very nice horse, I liked him a lot at Sandown and the rain this morning has helped him. It means a lot to ride winners at any time, but Derby Day is a special day."
Johnson Houghton said: "It's very special, Derby Day is one of my favourite days and I aspire to have a runner in the Derby. I'm so chuffed for Jimmy, it's been well documented how tough a time he has had and he's just a star man.
"It's absolutely fabulous. It was very soft at Haydock and it's great to have Jimmy on. Nothing against Graham Lee, but Jimmy and this horse are a match made in heaven.
"It's very emotional, for Jimmy after what happened with Jan, for the owners, as Mel Smith used to own him, and after losing John Hills. I worked for John for seven years. At least it doesn't make the Eclipse entry so silly. He might not be an Eclipse horse this year, but hopefully he will be next year."
Reflecting on the last few weeks, Fortune added: "I needed that, I hadn't ridden a winner for a month. It's been a tough time, but you've got to keep busy. Life goes on - Jan would have been the same - you've got to get on with things."
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Tony Carroll's Caspian Prince made nearly every yard of the running to just hold on from Seeking Magic in the Investec Specialist Bank "Dash".
Having broke well, the 9/1 chance grabbed the rail but was pressed for the lead at halfway by Addictive Dream. Having seen off that challenge Seeking Magic looked a huge danger but conditional jockey Ryan Tate just failed to get Clive Cox's sprinter home and went down by a head.
However, the unlucky loser was the 6/1 favourite Steps, who completely missed the break under Kieren Fallon and only had three behind him after a furlong before weaving through the field and flashing home into third, a neck behind Seeking Magic, with Addictive Dream fourth.
Winning rider Adam Kirby said: "He's rapid and he's real fun to ride. He's got bags of boot, which is a real good buzz. He battled back and I was surprised as I thought he'd just about had it."
Carroll said: "It means a lot, especially for the team at home. It's been the plan to come here for a while as he won here before. He's not bred to be a sprinter, he's bred to be a mile-and-a-half horse really, so he's a bit of a freak.
"He's got this incredible speed. There's a nice race at Musselburgh in 10 days' time, we could look at that as an option."
Oisin Murphy, who guided 100/1 outsider Red Galileo into fifth on his first ride in the Derby, was yet again seen to good effect on Miss Marjurie (7/1) in the Investec Zebra Handicap.
Trained by Denis Coakley, the four-year-old had chased home Lady Cecil's Mighty Yar last time out and stepped forward again. Murphy stole three lengths two furlongs out and had two and a half lengths in hand of Stomachion at the line.
"She's done it well," said Coakley. "It's not been a bad season. We've won the Victoria Cup at Ascot (with Gabrial's Lad) and now we've had a winner at the Derby meeting. We all want big winners at the big meetings - it's what we're in it for.
"We've got about 20 horses now at home and I'm delighted for the owner as he's been very loyal to me throughout the years.
"The young lad has given her a great ride although I did think I'd be giving him a piece of my mind after the race as she's hit the front very early. That wasn't his fault though as she's had a dream run through on the inside and found herself in front a bit too soon.
"We may get into the race at Royal Ascot now (the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes) as she wasn't quite high enough in the handicap to get in but she might now.
"The ultimate plan is the Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood though. She's a three-parts sister to Soviet Song so we'd love to get a bit of black type."
Ashpan Sam, caught on the line at Goodwood last time out, made no mistake in the Voyage By Investec Handicap.
Ryan Moore blasted out on John Spearing's sprinter and the 7/2 favourite maintained his advantage all the way, holding off Swiss Cross by a length and a quarter with the veteran Regal Parade in third.
Moore said: "He's jumped well and done it nicely. He jumped two lengths clear of them and it was quite straightforward from there on. He hit the gates well and I didn't hassle him. I was going very fast but I didn't actually have to ask to do it.
"The last furlong was long enough but he is a very honest horse and this fast track suited him but I would have liked more rain."
Spearing was emotional following the race as he revealed that Ashpan Sam's owner had sadly died earlier this year.
"The owner died over the winter and he was only 52," said the trainer. "I spoke to him the night before because we had a runner and he said that he wasn't feeling very well. The next morning I got a call to say that he had died in the night. This horse was the last winner he saw at Goodwood last year.
"He won it out of the gates. He has obviously improved but he is much better on softer ground. He has seen it out very well. He has improved and he broke very well. He was in front and it was easy for him after that. He handled the track and trip really well.
"I thought he would be much better on softer ground. I didn't think he got enough rain but he has done it well."
Spearing earmarked the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood as the gelding's next target.
"I will look at the Stewards' Cup as the track will suit him well. Ryan has wanted to ride the horse and thought he would win a decent race."