Tag Archive for: Living Legend

Living Legend proving aptly named for proud connections

Living Legend inflicted a surprise defeat on Breeders’ Cup hero Yibir in the Betfair Exchange Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket.

Yibir enjoyed a fantastic campaign in 2021, with success in the Great Voltigeur at York proving a springboard to international honours as he won the Jockey Club Derby at Belmont and the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar.

Following a narrow reverse in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan, Charlie Appleby’s charge appeared to face a relatively straightforward task on his return to Britain – and was priced up accordingly at 1-4.

But while Yibir travelled powerfully in midfield for much of the way, it was clear racing inside the final two furlongs that he was struggling to bridge the gap and he had to make do with the runner-up spot.

Mark Johnston, who now trains in partnership with son Charlie, had saddled the last two winners of the Group Two contest in Communique and Sir Ron Priestley, and Living Legend was an 11-1 shot to make it a hat-trick on the Rowley Mile.

Fresh from winning the Easter Classic on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Newcastle a fortnight ago, the six-year-old proved himself just as effective back on turf as he found plenty for Joe Fanning to keep the market leader at bay by a length and three-quarters.

Barbara Richmond, who owns Living Legend with her husband Alick, said: “This horse is just staggeringly good. We were going to put him in the Huxley Stakes next week at Chester, but we had a long conversation between Mark and Charlie and Joe and ourselves and actually it was Alick who said let’s run here.

“We had a big horse to beat here, he’s a very good horse is Yibir, but we have a good horse as well and we’re absolutely over the moon as it’s our first Group win.”

Johnston senior added: “We never run away from one horse. As normal I didn’t give any instructions to the jockey, but Barbara gave him a long talking to! She told him ‘we’re not here for a laugh, we’re here to win’ and she was right. I might take her to every race now!

“Barbara says we’re going to supplement him for the Coronation Cup (at Epsom). She was looking last night at the cost of supplementing him for Epsom and said if he won this that’s what she’d do. So you know, if that’s what she wants that’s what we’ll do.

“We always thought he was a seriously good horse, but he got a very bad injury – I think he had over two seasons off and there looked to be no future for him at all, we couldn’t even give him away as a riding horse.

“I said to Barbara ‘we’re not taking any horse on a no-racing agreement; we’re only taking him on the long odds chance he can come back to the track’.

“So we took him on and turned him out in the field, gave him two years off and then brought him back and he won at Pontefract and so we said to Barbara ‘do you want him back?’. And the rest is history.”

Living Legend fights back to deny Tyrrhenian Sea

Living Legend rallied in the dying strides to deny favourite Tyrrhenian Sea in the Betway Easter Classic All-Weather Middle Distance Championships Conditions Stakes at Newcastle.

All eyes were on Roger Varian’s 10-11 market leader after he won each of his first three starts on the all-weather before coming home a luckless fourth last time out when stepped up to 10 furlongs.

Kept at that trip for this richly-endowed contest, Tyrrhenian Sea was settled in fourth by Andrea Atzeni as Joe Fanning set just a steady pace up front on Living Legend (7-1)

It looked as though it was just a matter of when Atzeni gave the signal at Tyrrhenian Sea travelled powerfully into the straight, just as Fanning started to get to work on the long-time leader.

Tyrrhenian Sea duly took it up inside the final two furlongs, eventually moving a length clear inside the distance – but his stride began to shorten as Living Legend dug deep, eventually coming home half a length to the good.

Living Legend had some decent form in his younger days but Johnston explained a long-term injury had seen him sidelined for well over two years.

Living Legend with winning connections
Living Legend with winning connections (Richard Sellers/PA)

He said: “He had a bowed tendon and had to have two years off. They say they’re never the same again, but obviously time is the crucial thing and we gave him plenty of it – he was off for 841 days.

“The owners (Barbara and Alick Richmond) gave him to us and he came back sound, so we brought him back and raced him in our name. Then he won a race so we gave him back to the owners.

“I don’t know where we’ll go from here. We’ll take it one race at a time and we have no specific plan.

Living Legend returns to the winner's enclosure
Living Legend returns to the winner’s enclosure (Richard Sellers/PA)

“Joe always used to say this horse is better at a mile and a quarter with a good pace, but he’s come in today and said ‘you could run him at any trip’.

“Joe said he wasn’t doing a stroke in front. He said he saw the other come past him and thought ‘I haven’t even started yet’!

“I have always thought a mile and a quarter is his best trip.”