O’Brien makes Legends return

View from connections ahead of the Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Classified Stakes at Doncaster on Wednesday.

Joseph O'Brien will be back in the saddle on Wednesday

Joseph O'Brien is looking forward to returning to the saddle for a good cause in the Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Classified Stakes at Doncaster on Wednesday.

O'Brien, 23, retired this year to concentrate on a training career after a long-running battle with his weight, but his riding career, though brief, was extremely successful.

Twice champion jockey in Ireland, he won four British Classics, including Leading Light in the St Leger in 2013.

He lines up on Town Moor aboard the George Scott-trained Phosphorescence for the special charity event in aid of Jack Berry House and the Northern Racing College.

"I'm looking forward to it. There's been a bit of banter flying about, all in fun. It's all in a good cause," he said.

"I haven't done anything out of the ordinary, I've been riding out a bit at home, so I shouldn't be too unfit, hopefully.

"I don't know much about the horse I ride. I know he's been off the track for a while. He has some form in the past, so hopefully he can run a good race.

"I love the training, it's keeping me busy."

Gay Kelleway has just returned from supervising her runners at Deauville and has high hopes her mount Hijran can give her a great ride.

She is a regular in these events and was just touched off in this race in 2013.

"I rode in the trainers' race over seven furlongs last week and finished fifth on a mile-and-a-half horse. He ran a corker and another half a furlong I'd have won," said the Newmarket trainer.

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"I spoke to Michael (Appleby, trainer) and they fancy the horse to run a big race. He improves horses and I'm a big fan of his.

"I've got a nice ride, a nice draw and it's the kind of horse that suits me as he likes being held up.

"I was second on an outsider in this race when I went too soon, but I won't be going too soon on this one. I got beat a nose by a jockey who had recently retired.

"I've been in Deauville and it was a hard month for me because I ride out all the horses over there with my assistant and muck them out as well, which I wouldn't at home. And then I play hard.

"I always lose about 10lb when I go over there. I get myself fit and ride in the trainers' race which puts me right for the Legends race.

"It's all about getting your eye back in. When you haven't ridden for a long time it's about getting your sharpness back.

"You'll never be as stylish as you were when riding every day, but I'd like to think I'm sharper for my latest outing."

Ollie Pears has had little luck in this race in the past but believes he has a good chance on Pike Corner Cross, trained by Ed de Giles.

Pears, who started training in 2008 after riding 168 winners, has been working hard on his fitness as he is competing in the Great North Run on Sunday.

"I've had four rides in it but one got withdrawn as it had a problem with the stalls, so I've just had the three," said the Malton handler.

"It's going to be a good event and hopefully it's going to be really nice weather as well.

"Pike Corner Cross would appear to have a sound chance. He's a hold-up horse who comes with a late run.

"He's won two races on Kempton's Polytrack but he does appreciate a bit of good to soft ground so it should be fine.

"He's got a fair chance. He's third or fourth favourite and it's a privilege to be riding him.

"I'm fitter this year because I'm doing the Great North Run on Sunday in aid of children with cancer, so I've trained hard for both events."

Richard Hughes, champion jockey three times (2012-2014), hung up his saddle last year to take up training but has been persuaded to take part. He rides Bluff Crag for Andrew Balding.

The other jockeys who have responded to the challenge are Adrian Nicholls, Peter Buchanan, Dale Gibson, Luke Harvey, George Duffield, Billy Newnes, Tony Culhane, Tony McLaughlin, Tony Clark and Gary Bardwell.

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