Friday 23 February 2018

WATCH - Hot favourite Idaho unseats Seamus Heffernan as Harbour Law wins the Leger

Idaho unshipped Seamie Heffernan after appearing to take a false step
Idaho unshipped Seamie Heffernan after appearing to take a false step

Nick Robson

Laura Mongan became the first woman to train the winner of the Ladbrokes St Leger when Harbour Law got up close home to win the world's oldest Classic at Doncaster.

In a dramatic race that saw hot favourite Idaho appear to take a false step just under four furlongs out and unship Seamie Heffernan, Harbour Law made history for his Epsom trainer and her husband, former jockey Ian Mongan.

Sword Fighter was bustled up straight from the gates to take the lead, but Muntahaa soon went on with The Tartan Spartan third, Ventura Storm fourth and Idaho well placed.

When the field turned for home with the long straight in front of them there was no hint of the drama to follow, as Idaho was just about to make his move.

His Aidan O'Brien-trained stablemate Housesofparliament kicked for home, but was soon joined by Ventura Storm.

The latter, trained by Richard Hannon, held a narrow advantage in the final furlong for Silvestre de Sousa, but Harbour Law (22-1) came with a wet sail to give jockey George Baker his first Classic success.

Harbour Law won by three-quarters of a length from Ventura Storm, with Housesofparliament a short head away in third.

Baker said: "I can't believe it, I'm so happy for Ian and Laura, they had so much faith in him and really deserve it.

"It's an amazing feeling to win the Leger. I worked him at Kempton about two weeks ago and he felt brilliant.

"When Idaho clipped heels it made it a very open race."

Mongan said: "It was brilliant! I think I screamed a lot. I'm in shock.

"I'm so glad we came here and he's proved that he can do it. We didn't want to ride him like that, but George knows what he's doing and all credit to him. We knew we could leave it to him.

"It was a really professional performance by the horse, we knew he'd go somewhere in life.

"It proves we can do it with the ammunition, it's great to have a horse like this and bring him here for a race like this.

"It's a bit surreal. I hope we are lucky enough to hold on to him."

Ian Mongan, winner of the Juddmonte International on Twice Over in his riding days for the Henry Cecil, said: "I can't get my head around it, we thought he'd run well but did we think he'd win? In a dream maybe, but he has.

"He's the easiest horse to train. Henry Cecil said to me good horses make good trainers, and he is by far the easiest horse we've had to train.

"I'm so happy for Laura, the owners and Epsom. I'm going to enjoy this.

"I just pray he stays with us and he'll be a lovely Cup horse next year."

Tim Palin, syndicate manager for Middleham Park Racing, owners of the gallant Ventura Storm, said: "You can't fail to be thrilled to be just taking part in a race like this - to come so close to winning Britain's oldest Classic is an absolute thrill of a lifetime for us and our owners and the syndicate.

"We're a little sydnicate team competing against the best and it's an absolute privilege. We're disappointed with defeat, but I hope Idaho is OK.

"We've run past the line and we're in one piece to fight another day, so we count our blessings."

Heffernan walked to the ambulance and appeared to escape largely unscathed.

Describing her feelings when Idaho crashed out, Mongan said: "I started to worry for some reason.

"We normally ride him handy so it's all credit for George for knowing the horse and doing it differently.

"We'll have to discuss what's next, we genuinely haven't thought about it.

"He's not in at Ascot but he has an entry in France in October, the Prix Chaudenay.

"This isn't a surprise to us - it might be to others - we wouldn't have brought him otherwise.

"To go down in history as the first woman to win it is amazing, at least I've done something right.

"We've felt all along that whatever he did today, he'd be even better next year.

"It's my daughter's seventh birthday today but she's at home with my mum along with my seven-year-old son. I'd promised her a party tomorrow and it might be a bit bigger now!"

Ventura Storm's trainer Richard Hannon said: "I bought George Baker breakfast this morning and then he does that to me!

"All the way up the straight I thought we had it but we've been mugged. It's unfortunate, but there you go.

"He had a very hard race there so I'd imagine that's it for the season."

It was subsequently decided Heffernan should go to hospital for precautionary checks, meaning he would not be able to ride at Leopardstown's evening fixture.

Coolmore's UK representative Kevin Buckley said: "He seems fine, but because he's had a bang on the head the doctors wanted to send him to Sheffield Hospital for a precautionary scan."

Press Association

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