Phosphorescence and Joseph O’Brien winning the Leger Legends race
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Alex Wiltshire 3:49PM 7 SEP 2016
Report: Doncaster, Wednesday
Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Classified Stakes (Class 5), 1m, 3yo+
THOSE watching on would have been forgiven for thinking they had tuned in three years ago when Joseph O’Brien sat motionless aboard Leading Light en route to St Leger victory, as he delivered a winning ride in the Leger Legends race on Phosphorescence.
O’Brien ended a brief but highly distinguished career in the saddle last season when he retired to pursue training, and at 23 he was the youngest rider in the race by a fair distance.
O’Brien joins illustrious company, following in the footsteps of 20-time champion National Hunt jockey Tony McCoy, who won the race 12 months ago, and decorated 13-time Irish Champion Flat jockey Mick Kinane who won in 2012.
“That was good,” O’Brien said, who looked delighted with the return to the winner’s enclosure. “He took a nice tug all the way. He tested my fitness a little but thrived when it mattered.”
Not everyone was impressed with the result, as the stewards found O’Brien in breach of the whip rules, in that he had used it above the permitted level. A fine of £500 was imposed. It is understood the BHA will donate the fine to charity.
Age no barrier
For much of the closing stages it was youth versus experience, as the oldest competitor, 69-year-old George Duffield, gave chase on Red Charmer for wife Ann, but they slipped to third late on as Peter Buchanan stole second on Janaab.
“That was lovely,” said George Duffield. “I followed the right horse and I thought ‘if he falters going to the furlong-pole, I’ve got him’ But he didn’t! I just ran up his backside otherwise I would probably have been second. I loved it, I am a bit fitter than I thought I was!”
For a good cause
The Leger Legends race is all in aid of charity and since its inception in 2010 it has raised over £650,000 for the Northern Racing College and Jack Berry House, a rehabilitation centre for injured riders.
Luke Harvey, who won the Welsh National in 1990, briefly threatened to turn back the clock when he entered contention after a patient ride on Gun Case, however his challenge faded in the closing stages.
“What an adrenaline buzz that was,” said Harvey. “I gave him time, he came to me two out but we both got a little bit tired in the final half furlong. I can’t describe what fun that was. Of course, Joseph was on the best horse – I’d have won on that!”
Richard Hughes, who like O’Brien retired from the saddle last year, finished fourth on Bluff Crag, and added “That was good fun. But I am definitely not planning a comeback!”