Harvey out to add name to Legends roll of honour
Luke Harvey: teams up with Gun Case
PICTURE: Hugh Routledge Harvey out to add name to Legends roll of honour
By Graham Dench 7:05AM 7 SEP 2016
IT'S A complete one-off. A race like no other. The Leger Legends might have been going only since 2010, but just look at the winners. Where else in the world would you find a race for retired jockeys with a distinguished and varied roll of honour containing Julie Krone, Charlie Swan, Mick Kinane and Sir Anthony McCoy? And who knows, we might soon be adding the name of Luke Harvey to that list.
While three-time champion jockey Richard Hughes has admitted it is Jack Berry and the charity aspect that has persuaded him back into the saddle for the Clipper Logistics-sponsored event, the excitement among the other riders as they have prepared is almost palpable. And the banter is becoming deafening.
The participation of Hughes, who has drawn a leading fancy in Bluff Crag, is a major coup, so too that of former Irish champion Joseph O’Brien.
O’Brien has made a big impression in the training ranks since giving up the unequal battle with the scales last autumn, and he has embraced this opportunity to get back into action at a realistic weight with open arms.
Dale Gibson, winner of the race in 2014 and one of the organisers, has enjoyed all of the ribbing that has gone on between riders, especially O’Brien and Harvey.
He said: “For such a highflying, high-profile young trainer going places he’s been a breath of fresh air.
“He’s been a joy to deal with. This race is all about banter, and Joseph has got involved. Luke is top of the pile in that respect, though, and although he takes plenty of stick he’s good at dishing it out.
“The atmosphere in the changing room is unbelievable, and I can’t wait.”
It is hoped today’s seventh running of the Leger Legends will boost the sum raised for Jack Berry House and the Northern Racing College past the £750,000 mark.
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Heading three reserves is a five-year-old who already has a place in racing history. Gannicus holds the distinction of having provided the then recently retired Sir Anthony McCoy with what looks destined to remain his last ever win in the saddle 12 months ago.
Johnson lending a hand
Luke Harvey is riding in kit borrowed from champion jump jockey Richard Johnson, who he says is the only rider with calves as big as his.
What they say
Dale Gibson, rider of Chiswick Bey
I’m in fair shape as I’ve been on the bike plenty and I’ve ridden out all year for Michael Dods, getting on six or seven horses every Saturday. I’m up for it and Chiswick Bey would give me a good ride judged on his Ascot and Pontefract runs in the summer, although he didn’t run particularly well in this race when I won it two years ago.
Luke Harvey, rider of Gun Case
I’ve been riding only my own horse, as I’m so busy, but I’m down to around 10st 1lb, which is the lightest I’ve been in 15 years. They’re all evenly matched and Gun Case won at Newcastle two starts ago, for Dougie Costello, another ex-jump jockey. It’s my fifth ride in the race and I’m getting closer every year. I thought it would be intimidating being drawn next to three-time champion jockey Richard Hughes, but Jason Weaver says I needn’t worry about that as he always gives them too much to do.
Peter Buchanan, rider of Janaab
I haven’t done a lot of riding out since I hung up my boots at the end of the season as I’m based in Belfast now, but Janaab was second two years ago and looks to have a chance, so I hope I’m fit enough to do him justice. It’s great to have been asked and I’m really excited about it.
Joseph O’Brien, rider of Phosphorescence
I’m riding out at home and so hopefully not too unfit, and Phosphorescence is a nice horse belonging to the Niarchos family, so it would be great if he could win. He’s been off the track a while but I’m looking forward to riding him.
Ollie Pears, rider of Pike Corner Cross
I’ve not done very well in this before but Pike Corner Cross looks my best chance yet. His wins are on the all-weather, but he’s a consistent horse with turf form too, who looks like one I’ll be taking my time on. I’m extra fit this year as I’m in the Great North Run on Sunday, raising money for Children With Cancer UK. I’m hoping to raise £5,000.
George Duffield, rider of Red Charmer
There’s extra pressure riding for the boss [wife Ann] but she’s not too bad and Red Charmer is very straightforward – just the ride for an old man like me. I’m still riding out around three days a week and really looking forward to it.
Billy Newnes, rider of Sakhalin Star
Last year I was pushing and squeezing from a long way out and my legs went in the final furlong, but I’d have been only a neck closer whatever people say and the stewards understood. I’ve trained hard and I’m quite competitive, so I’m really looking forward to it, but I’m on a five-year-old who has won only once and seems to like finishing second.
Tony Culhane, rider of Sophisticated Heir
It’s coincidence I ride Sophisticated Heir, but I manage a few horses for [trainer] Michael Herrington and so know him quite well, and I think he’ll suit the race. When I rode in the race before it was too soon after my retirement, but I’m really looking forward to it this time.
Tom McLaughlin, rider of Stoked
I’m reasonably fit from riding out regularly for Ed Dunlop, although I did get a bit of cramp when Michael Tebbutt put me through my paces on the Equicizer the other day. Stoked is on a reasonable mark and I gather they fancy him to run well.
Tony Clark, rider of Aldair
I’m thrilled to be riding again after finishing third on an outsider in Mick Kinane’s year, and I’m doubly thrilled to be riding for Richard Hannon, as I rode out at Herridge for a year. Aldair has won this year and been placed, and although he’s had a little dip in form I couldn’t be riding for a better trainer.
Richard Hughes, rider of Bluff Crag
I’m hoping the old instincts will take over and I reckon I’m still more than physically capable. Bluff Crag won well at Newbury and Andrew Balding reckons he can be excused his last run at Chepstow as he didn’t handle the track.
Adrian Nicholls, rider of Hammer Gun
I’m at the Northern Racing College now, so I’ve been using the simulator to blow the cobwebs away and I still feel pretty fit. Hammer Gun is dropping back in trip but hopefully the first-time visor will spark him up a bit. I’m hoping some of the old boys get tired before their horses do.
Gary Bardwell, rider of Mon Beau Visage
This will be my fifth or sixth ride in the race but my first real chance, riding for a good trainer on a horse who goes on soft ground and finished second last time. I ride out pre-training for Godolphin on three or four lots a day and I’m a regular in the gym, so I’m as fit as I can be without being race-fit.
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