EVERGREEN jockey Joe Fanning was the toast of Redcar’s Gin and Gents’ Evening after riding his 2,500th British winner.
Dublin-born Fanning hit the milestone when he drove the Keith Dalgleish-trained Universal Gleam to victory in the Racing TV Straight Mile Series Handicap Stakes.
Fanning, 48, who struck up an incredibly successful partnership with Middleham’s record-breaking trainer Mark Johnston from 1990, said after the race: "It's hard to believe it's 2,500 winners but it's grand to do it. I thought it might be on this horse. I've had a great career and it pays to have a good job with a trainer like Mark."
Only Frankie Dettori of the current crop of jockeys has ridden more winners than Fanning, who scored his first and only Group One success on Johnston’s The Last Lion in the Middle Park Stakes in 2016. He rode his first winner in a hurdle race at Sedgefield in 1989 but his fledgling jumps career came to an end when he broke three vertebrae in his neck in a fall.
Asked to name his personal career highlight, Fanning said: “There have been so many – I’ve been very lucky.”
The race was immediately followed by an emotional win for Valley of Fire in the Every Race Live On Racing TV Handicap Stakes. The gelding, trained at Beverley by Les Eyre and ridden by Lewis Edmunds, was off the course for two years after a ruptured tendon meant it was “touch and go” whether he would ever race again.
He has gradually regained his fitness and the patience of owners Billy Parker and son Steven paid off with the Redcar victory.
Steven, who runs a utility company in Wakefield, said: “Every winner’s special but this is extra-special in the circumstances.”
Steven and wife Tracy had made it to Redcar with 10 minutes to spare after driving up from Leeds where they had attended a family dinner, partly to celebrate their eldest daughter, Denver, giving birth to a baby called Canada.
Favourite-backers got off to a good start in the first race when Lambourn raider Regal Director justified odds of 6-4 for trainer Archie Watson and jockey Brodie Hampson in the Join Racing TV Now Handicap Stakes.
The following Best Flat Races Live On Racing TV Novice Auction Stakes was won in good style by Bond’s Boy, trained at Malton by the prolific Richard Fahey and ridden by claimer Connor Murtagh.
Nirodha, trained at Newmarket by Amy Murphy, led all the way under Sean Davis, and never looked in danger in the Bakers Tailoring and Formal Hire Fillies’ Novice Auction Stakes.
The best finish of the evening came in the Market Cross Jewellers Handicap Stakes when another Newmarket raider, the James Fanshawe-trained Selino, ridden by Daniel Muscutt, just got the better of a sustained battle with Danny Tudhope on Funny Man.
The meeting came to a climax with the Mick Easterby-trained Dahik dominating the Thank You And Good Luck Becky Shaw Handicap Stakes, with Ger O’Neill having the race in the bag two furlongs out.