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'He turned out to be rather like me, good looking but of very limited ability'

Leg Lock Luke, the 2-1 Taunton favourite, unseats rider Tom O'Brien with the race at mercy
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Throughout racing, you have always had the good, the bad and the ugly. However, on a few special occasions fans are graced with the downright wacky.

They may have slipped your mind, but they have not been erased from history and have brought us some of the funniest – and most dramatic – moments ever seen on the track.

In a new series by the Racing Post, we take a look back at some of the wackiest races ever run, this time remembering Leg Lock Luke snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at Taunton.


The horse

Former Irish point-to-pointer Leg Lock Luke was always going to garner plenty of attention once he'd been sold to race in Britain at the Cheltenham sales in 2015 as he is named after the nickname given to ITV Racing and Sky Sports pundit and ex-jockey Luke Harvey.

The son of Indian River attracted plenty of interest at the sales and not just because of his name as he had previously won a point-to-point at Loughrea for trainer Eugene O'Sullevan and was knocked down to owner Terry Warner for £100,000.

Leg Lock Luke: named after ITV Racing and Sky Sports pundit and ex-jockey Luke Harvey

Sent into training with Colin Tizzard, Leg Lock Luke evidently showed plenty of prowess on the gallops but did not transfer it to the track in his first four hurdles races in 2016 – he was beaten by 33 lengths, 43 lengths, 32 lengths and 45 lengths.

Switched to fences the following season, Leg Lock Luke had managed three placed efforts out of his five starts but had not looked the most willing prior to heading to post at Taunton on March 20, 2017, when he was sent off 2-1 favourite to beat six rivals under Tom O'Brien.


The race

O'Brien knew Leg Lock Luke pretty well, having ridden him in all his starts over the bigger obstacles. He had the then seven-year-old in the van for much of the journey before sending him for home four out.

He then had to get serious with his conveyance in the straight when he hit the second-last, but he stuck on well and had the race in safe keeping until a dramatic turn of events in the shadow of the post.

Full result and race replay


The incident

The chute back into the paddock is just before the winning post at the Somerset track and while holding the challenge of eventual winner Bajardo, Leg Lock Luke was more like Jaw Lock Luke and decided to make an early exit 75 yards out when veering violently left-handed, forfeiting the race and unseating O'Brien.

Leg Lock Luke (left) appears to hold a decent advantage in the final stages at Taunton

But disaster strikes as Leg Lock Luke begins to wander, leaving Tom O'Brien unbalanced

The helpless jockey is sent crashing to the turf as a result of the favourite's sudden jolt

The loose horse hands an easy win to Bajardo, who looked a sure second 75 yards out

O'Brien looks on as Bajardo heads up to the line with the loose horse heading for the exit


The in-running comment

Jumped left 1st, led until 3rd, tracked leader, upsides 6th, led 4 out, ridden after 3 out, hit next, 2 lengths up when veered badly left final 75yds and unseated rider


What they say

Luke Harvey, At The Races reporter

The story goes that a friend of mine owned a horse with Eugene O'Sullivan in Ireland and before it ran in a point-to-point he wanted to call it Leg Lock Luke after me. So I had a phone call from the Irish Turf Club asking me if I minded and I laughed and said, 'No, as long as it's not useless!'

Anyway, he won his point-to-point and then they sold it to the Tizzards for £100,000, but for the new owners he turned out to be rather like me, good looking but of very limited ability.

He'd come to win his race at Taunton that day but on the run-in veered across the course and decided to pull himself up next to the chute where they come out on to the track. They do it at loads of places if they want to get out of it. I was working down there for ATR that day and me and the cameraman went over to the horse and I shouted 'Leglock, pull yourself together, you're better than that!' at the horse and the crowd just loved it.

Broadcaster Luke Harvey: "A bit like me, he flattered to deceive as he was stone useless"

They tried everything to win a race with him. I remember when they first got him I asked Joe Tizzard if he was any good and he told me he was one of the few horses in the yard who could match strides with Cue Card. Obviously, a bit like me, he flattered to deceive as he was stone useless.

People always thought I owned Leg Lock Luke, which I didn't as Terry Warner owned him. People kept coming up to me and asking why I kept hold of the horse as he's no good but many were surprised when I replied to say he wasn't mine. As if I didn't need it enough, I was much maligned because of that horse, who I think is now back with Eugene in Ireland.


What happened next

Remarkably the Tizzard team managed to get two wins out of Leg Lock Luke the following season but he lost his way and was switched to Tom George.

After two pulled-up efforts for that stable, the gelding was sold for just £700 in March 2019 and went back to Eugene O'Sullevan, since when he has run without distinction on the point-to-point circuit.


More from our Wacky Races series:

The unforgettable slow-motion duel that lit up Sandown on a winter's day

'I had a lot underneath me then, all of a sudden, I was causing carnage'

'Who wants to be known as the most unlucky punter? It finished me off'

'One second he was going to win – the next he was heading to the street'

'I got a barrage of abuse' – George Baker relives Cotai Glory's moment of mayhem

'What the hell happened to him?' – the tale of Might Bite's unbelievable RSA win


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I shouted 'Leglock, pull yourself together, you're better than that!'

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