Cattermole: Mongan makes history

Mike Cattermole hails history making Laura Mongan, Ron Harris' successful French raid and John Hunt's decision to stay with the BBC.

Laura Mongan and George Baker: Teamed up to win the Ladbrokes St Leger


I have long admired George Baker's talents on a racehorse and marvelled at how tall a man – he is just about 6 feet – can not only keep his weight in check but his temperament so even.

I recall the likes of Steve Cauthen, Walter Swinburn and Ray Cochrane being difficult to play on occasions – from a pressman's point of view – because of the mood swings associated with the constant wasting.

Fully understandable, of course, but George seems to manage it all so well. He is always the same, win or lose, and so for him to record his first Classic with Harbour Law in the St Leger was something worth celebrating.

George has a reputation for being a brilliant hold-up jockey and he is also top-class from the front, too. His vast array of talents was on show at Doncaster last Friday, although he admitted he was frustrated because he reckoned that he went too soon on Seamour, who was collared in the Mallard Handicap.

Later in the afternoon, it was only a tip-top effort from Martin Harley on Sheihkzayadroad that denied Baker, by a whisker, from making all on Quest For More in the Doncaster Cup.

But Harbour Law's place in history was sealed because he was trained by a woman and what a training performance it was by Laura Mongan.

She said she had "freshened him up" since his defeat in the Bahrain Trophy – and how! Mongan, whose previous most notable success was with First Avenue in the Imperial Cup of 2013, has done herself and her Epsom base a massive favour.

Not since the days of John Sutcliffe jnr had the fabled training centre celebrated a Classic success, some 47 years before with Right Tack in the Guineas. Nobody seems to know if Epsom has ever sent out a St Leger winner. It looks unlikely.

Let's hope that Harbour Law stays sound and helps in raising the horse population in the town as the Leger could be the first of many triumphs for him in the staying division.


If you had been told that the first three letters in the St Leger winner's name were going to be "Har", it is long odds-on that you would have gone for Harzand.

Pat Smullen had called him at "St Leger type" after he had won the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown (from Idaho) back in April but the son of Sea The Stars never received an entry for Doncaster.

Given that it was stamina that seemingly won him both the Epsom and Irish Derby's, this was a surprise and he surely would have been very hard to beat in the Leger. Instead, he struggled and was injured in the Irish Champion Stakes (Almanzor was exceptional, wasn't he?) and his Arc bid is now in jeopardy, sadly.

I wonder if he was ever even considered for a supplementary entry? I have a hunch that the Leger is not a race that is close to the Aga Khan's heart, although his grandfather, the Aga Khan III, won it six times from Salmon-Trout in 1924 to Tulyar in 1952.

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When Harzand won the Aga his fifth Derby, he edged one ahead of his grandfather on that score and perhaps his experience of the St Leger was scarred when Shergar flopped at long odds-on in 1981.

I recall Baynoun running second to Commanche Run in 1984 but that is the closest the Aga has come and I can't recall any runners of his in the race since.

Not that missing out at Doncaster has done him or his breeding operation any harm – together with his daughter Princess Zahra, the Aga has enjoyed a staggering 148 Group One wins.


Aside from Midterm's excellent comeback in the Prix Niel, Arc Trials day at Chantilly was not too memorable for the Brits but Ron Harris will never forget it because he trained our only winner on the card, Just Glamorous, who simply ran away with the Prix du Petit Couvert.

Just like the Welsh soccer team in the summer, Ron, a native of Monmouthshire, was doing his bit in France.

Just Glamorous, a 92-rated handicapper going into this and taking a massive step up in class, totally blitzed them for speed and defeated the smart filly Marsha and Group One winner Goldream (Gold ream please commentators, not Gold dream) by three lengths and a length-and-a-half.

If Just Glamorous is in that sort of form come the Abbaye, he will be hard to catch, make no mistake.

Ron has had a number of good sprinters through his hands since he started training in 2004 – multiple winner Judge N Jury being one of the best – and Just Glamorous's half-brother Glamorous Air had given him his only previous Group winner when taking the Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh in 2010.

It is a long way in a horsebox from Monmouthshire to Chantilly but Ron will be at the wheel with a degree of optimism when he returns there in three weeks' time.


It had been one of the worst-kept secrets about the new ITV Racing team – that the caller's job was John Hunt's, if he wanted it.

Some might question John's decision to turn down the ITV offer, but knowing how much he enjoys working for BBC Radio 5Live, it was no foregone conclusion that "Hunty" would accept the ITV approach.

John had just come off another successful Olympic Games covering the swimming for 5Live and that, along with the promise of a more varied portfolio to add to his racing one, meant it would have been harder than ever to walk away from.

John has a position for life almost guaranteed with 5Live. We have no idea how long ITV Racing will be around.

I can't help feeling a deal of sympathy, however, for my colleague Simon Holt, who, like a few other well-known names, has had to sit and wait for the ITV management team to decide about their inclusion, or not.

It is the race caller who provides the soundtrack to a mainstream broadcast, the voice that is best remembered and replayed years after a race is over. In time, the main anchor or interviewer on a particular day is usually or largely irrelevant.

Think of Sir Peter O'Sullevan's oft-repeated commentaries from the BBC or Raleigh Gilbert, John Penney and Tony Cooke from the old ITV days.

Simon, for me the heir apparent to O'Sullevan, has provided C4's soundtrack for over 15 years and that, through no fault of his own, appears to have stood against him as it seems there is an obvious preference to choose a different voice which can be exclusively associated with ITV.

Yet other old C4 faces have been signed up. Strange really. All will be revealed on Friday.


I am now getting really worried about Derby County who just can't score goals this season. One goal in seven matches is a dreadful return and a second successive home defeat on Tuesday night means that morale must be getting lower and lower.

Chris Martin, the Rams' former leading marksman, has been sent out on loan to Fulham so clearly Nigel Pearson didn't fancy him much. I watch on with fading optimism.

And what on earth was Arsene Wenger doing leaving his two main strikers on the bench for the PSG game? Why didn't Olivier Giroud start? Alexis Sanchez is not a target man up front, he just can't do it and always strays infield. And where was Granit Xhaka? Yep, on the bench. Why can't Wenger see the bleeding obvious?

I must follow the two most frustrating teams in the land right now.

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