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Farewell Fortune Family – Kylie, Andrew, Sean & Ashley (Sporting Post)


Sporting Post

The South African horseracing industry brain drain continues with the news that Gr1 winning Vaal trainer Ashley Fortune will be calling it a day and relocating to Australia with her former SA Champion jockey husband, Andrew, and their two children.

The Fortunes will be based just outside Sydney, working and living on the NSW Southern Highlands equine property Bong Bong Farm.
The beautifully manicured state-of-the-art 97,5-hectare property, which was purchased by the state’s racing regulator for A$22,5 million in July 2021, includes four architecturally designed barns with 61 boxes, 1 250 metre turf and sand training tracks, hyperbaric chamber, equine spa, treadmills and horse walkers.
The recent leasing of Bong Bong Farm by Ciaron Maher Racing, which also runs a vast operation in Victoria, will complement its Sydney stable at Warwick Farm.
Ciaron Maher and Dave Eustace intend to have up to 100 horses spelling at the farm while they will also have horses in pre-training and full-training at the farm, which is 90 minutes’ drive from the Sydney CBD.
Ashley and Andrew will be working at the spelling facility.
Talking to the Sporting Post on Thursday, Ashley said that the decision to pack up and move her life is something that she had done previously, but it remained an extremely emotional and tough call.
“I moved from Zimbabwe to South Africa in 2008. Today I am a mother and have a large business with many fantastic clients and loyal staff who depend on us for their livelihood. So fifteen years later, I have many more responsibilities to consider and this time it is intercontinental. But the fact remains that I have to do what I believe is best for our children and future generations.”
She said that a reconsideration of their children’s prospects, coupled with the fact that this wonderful opportunity has arisen at a world-class facility, makes the decision a no-brainer.
“I have spoken to my owners and our staff. We have a lovely string of horses – I am going to miss the whole lot. But Andrew and I believe the time is right to spread our wings and make the move,” said an emotional Ashley.
Her husband Andrew, one of the great SA jockeys of the 21st century, said that South African horseracing had been good to him.
“I was fortunate to ride champions of the likes of Free My Heart, Vesta, Princess Victoria and many others. For all my early failings, I was always embraced by this wonderful industry and given multiple second chances. I have many people to thank for giving me the repeat opportunities. I hope I repaid the empathy, the understanding and the kindness through eventually becoming SA champion jockey at the age of 40. I am going to miss South Africa and the many good people in the game. But it’s time to move on for Sean and Kylie’s sake,” he added with uncharacteristic sombreness.
One of South Africa’s leading lady trainers, the 41 year old Harare -born Ashley has grown the Fortune Racing operation in Vereeniging from humble beginnings five years ago to a powerful yard.
She has saddled close on 250 winners at all levels for stakes of over R26 million.
Last season she saddled her first Gr1 and first Gr2 winner, and always operated by the maxim that maidens and Gr1’s are celebrated with equal fervour and appreciation.
A consummate horsewoman, Ashley once told the Sporting Post that when other children were aspiring to be doctors, dentists and civil engineers, all she ever wanted was a job – any job – with horses.
Ashley has lived her childhood dream and leaves South Africa a highly respected trainer.
The loss of the influential couple will undoubtedly be a loss to local racing.
A dispersal sale, including the likes of promising 2yo Ripple Effect and the smart Bella Chica, will be hosted by Bloodstock SA at the Fortune Racing Yard at the Vaal on 7 June from 10h00.
A braai will be held on the day and an invitation has been extended to join the family, staff and their team to have a bite and drink for old time’s sake.

We wish the Fortunes every success in their new life abroad.