Former jump jockey claims charity race on Town Moor aboard Off Art.
Brian Harding showed he has lost little of his trademark strength in the saddle when steering Off Art to a thrilling victory in the Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Stakes at Doncaster.
A field of 14 former jockeys went to post for the popular contest, which has become the traditional highlight on the opening afternoon of the four-day St Leger Festival on Town Moor.
Now in its seventh year, the charity event has raised significant amounts of money for the Injured Jockeys Fund’s Jack Berry House, as well as the Northern Racing College.
Harding, a veteran of the northern National Hunt weighing room having ridden over 600 winners during a career spent largely as stable jockey for Gordon and Nicky Richards, had an obvious edge on many of his rivals, having only retired from race riding earlier this year.
He picked up a plum ride on the Tim Easterby-trained Off Art (5-1) and timed his challenge to perfection, getting up late in the day to beat Fire Palace and Adrian Nicholls by half a length.
Harding said: “That was hard work but it was good fun! I ride out three or four horses every day who are breakers (being broken in) but then you come and do this? I thought, ‘oh my God.’ No, it was good fun really.
“I am 45 in two weeks’ time and I left home when I was 15, so I was a jockey for almost 30 years.
“It just takes a little getting away from. But I do the jockey coaching job and that keeps me a bit involved.”
Harding’s career highlight was a Queen Mother Champion Chase success on the popular grey One Man in 1998, while he also won the 2004 Irish Grand National aboard Granit D’Estruval.
“I didn’t even think about riding in this race, but Dale (Gibson) rang me up and I said ‘yes, definitely’,” he added.
“I was confident early in the race and got excited about three furlongs down when I probably shouldn’t have done. When he got to the front he got a bit lazy, but he was always going to hang on.”
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