Ladbrokes St Leger Festival: Day 1, Leger Legends
The Scarbrough Stakes is the feature race for equines on the first day of the meeting, but it will be the ex-stars of the saddle who take centre stage in the Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Race.
Popular old names such as Kevin Darley, George Duffield, Mick Kinane, Luke Harvey and Jamie Osborne will take part in the classified event over Doncaster’s straight mile. They will once again be joined by American superstar Julie Krone, who took the race last year.
Krone in fact has a chance of winning back-to-back renewals of the event and this year partners Sunnyside Tom for top trainer Richard Fahey. However, this eight year-old hasn’t won a race since last August and after a disappointing debut over hurdles last November, was returned immediately to the flat. The gelding has appeared not to stay over a mile so far this season and will need everything to fall right for him.
The Declan Carroll-trained Invincible Hero was the horse that gave Julie Krone her victory last year and this year Carroll is represented by Save The Bees, who will be ridden by Kevin Darley. Darley was Champion Flat Jockey in 2000 and brought the curtain down on his career in 2007. Save The Bees has only ever won one race, but has been placed in a further 10. Seven of those placed efforts have come this season however, proving that the four year-old is as consistent as they come.
George Duffield, one of racing’s finest ambassadors, finished third in the race last year and this year bids to go two better aboard David Barron’s Elijah Pepper. Duffield, born in 1946, won over 2500 races in a career which spanned 40 lucrative years. His mount is another who hasn’t won for nearly a year, but always seems to run well and could be thereabouts in an open race.
Both of Duffield’s past rides in this race have been for trainer Ollie Pears and this year, Pears himself will take to the saddle. He rides The Ducking Stool and the five year-old mare is dropping markedly in trip this afternoon. She’ll have the stamina and could surprise a few, especially if given an easy lead.
All eyes will be on Patriotic who is sure to be popular amongst punters, being the mount of recently retired legend Mick Kinane. Kinane won the Grand National Legends Race at Aintree on Grand National day in April so will be bullish about his chances today. No doubt Kinane will give him an inspiring ride.
Jamie Osborne rides Gunner Will, who he trains. Whilst he needs to improve, an each-way punt could be Alhaban, ridden by Dale Gibson for trainer Ron Harris. The six year-old grey gelding has been keeping better company recently and will enjoy the quick ground.
This special race is really open and looks set to be a thrilling event.
The aforementioned Scarbrough Stakes also looks exciting and it brings together some top sprinters. Sole Power has won a Nunthorpe and a Temple Stakes and has been placed at Royal Ascot. He is without doubt a Group One performer and ought to take all the beating. Kingsgate Native has won a Jubilee, a Nunthorpe and a Temple Stakes but never looks straight forward. Now seven, he will have to reproduce his best form to challenge Sole Power, but having changed stable, could well do that. Confessional always runs with credit in big sprints and he could throw down a challenge. Similar comments apply to Masamah who is yet to win a race this season. Valbchek, on the other hand, won his first two starts of his career earlier in the season before disappointing when fancied at Royal Ascot. He hasn’t been out since and the drop in trip makes him an interesting contender.
Racing gets underway at 2pm, with the Scarbrough Sakes at 3.05pm and the Leger Legends event at 3.40pm.
Image courtesy of sportinglife.com