Saturday 20 January 2018

Swan crowned king of the legends after Miami victory

Nick Robson

FORMER Irish champion jump jockey Charlie Swan was crowned king of the legends after making all the running on Miami Gator to win the Leger Legends Classified Stakes at Doncaster yesterday.

The brainchild of Jack Berry, the race was staged to raise money for a facility similar to Oaksey House in Lambourn, which caters for retired and rehabilitating jockeys.

The likes of Pat Eddery, John Francome, John Reid, Steve Smith-Eccles, Tony Dobbin and Kevin Darley were all involved with the greatest legend of them all, Lester Piggott, presenting the prizes.

Swan, synonymous with Aidan O'Brien's triple-champion hurdler Istabraq, retired seven years ago and the 42-year-old is now, of course, a successful trainer in Tipperary.

Miami Gator (9/2), trained by Elaine Burke, has been in great heart of late and was bounced out of the stalls by Swan to take an early lead and never saw another rival, beating Legal Legacy and Dale Gibson by a length and three-quarters.

Graham Bradley, who was celebrating his 50th birthday, finished third on Aflaam, with Ernie Johnson, who won the 1969 Derby on Blakeney, fourth on Cape Kimberley.

"He was the form horse in the race, so I suppose he was entitled to win," said Swan. "It's for a really good cause and plenty of money has been raised. Jack does a great job.

"I'm pretty fit, but race riding is obviously different. I'm glad it was only one mile and not two!

"I was a bit worried when I saw Brad out of the corner of my eye, but he kept going.

"It's great Lester is here. I remember beating him by a neck about 20 years ago. He is a proper legend."

Also at Doncaster, Paul Hanagan celebrated his 30th birthday in style by riding a 91/1 double. Leading the jockeys' championship, Hanagan won on Barefoot Lady (3/1) for his boss Richard Fahey in the juvenile conditions stakes and David Elsworth's Myplacelater (22/1) in the 10-furlong stakes contest.

His victory on the latter was quite controversial as Jamie Spencer looked to have the race won on Wigmore Hall before appearing to just take it slightly easy in the final few strides.

That gave Hanagan the chance he needed on the filly, which found a great turn of foot to win by the narrowest of margins.

The stewards did question Spencer, but were happy with his explanation that if he had used his whip, he would have interfered with Al Zir (third) on the rails.

Earlier on the card, Fahey's Barefoot Lady maintained her unbeaten record with a nice performance when finding extra to see off Katell by a length and a quarter.

Irish Independent

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