Legends race for Jack Berry House

Julie Krone - will she be a Legend again?

Top weight of 11 stone is unusual for a flat race. Bottom weight of 10 stone 9 pounds is even more unlikely. Yet that’s the range in one of the races on the opening day of Doncaster’s St Leger meeting tomorrow.

The race in question is not a typical maiden or handicap of the type that makes up 98% of the racing programme. Neither is it one of the amateur jockey contests that constitute most of the remaining races. The race we’re talking about here is Donnie’s annual nostalgia race for retired jockeys, the Clipper Logistic Leger Legends Stakes.

The weights recognise a simple fact of life – that jockeys waste and work so hard to keep their weight down while they are riding, that when they stop, they inevitably put on some weight. One former jockey who might have added relatively few pounds is Richard Hills. He was announced as one of the 16 jockeys for the race back in July, but commitments to his regular employer, Hamdan Al Maktoum mean he has had to pull out at the last minute. John Reid picks up the spare ride on Chookie Avon.

Dale Gibson, who helped organise the event, and will be donning silks and breeches again himself, told the Racing Post, “Richard had been very keen to ride and raised a lot of money in sponsorship, but he is required in Dubai this week, which we obviously understand has to take priority.”

Last year’s winning jockey, America’s Julie Krone is back to defend her title, and rides Sunnyside Tom for Richard Fahey. Luke Harvey won’t be miked up for his ride on Hail Promenader for Antony Carson, so he’ll be able to say what he likes to his rivals without fear of upsetting the viewers.

For once, which horse and jockey are first to pass the post is relatively unimportant. The prize money of £10,000 is immaterial. What matters is, as Gibson puts it, “everybody in racing pulling together for one goal.” Tomorrow that goal is raising money for Jack Berry House, the Injured Jockeys’ Fund centre to be built in Malton. Let’s hope there’s plenty more in the kitty after the race tomorrow.

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