Dunfermline: A golden winner for the Queen in Silver Jubilee year
First published on Friday, September 10, 2011
They say the St Leger lacks class but in 1977 the great race marked the sole defeat in the career of dual Arc winner Alleged, who went down after a notable battle with the Dick Hern-trained Dunfermline, ridden by one of the finest lightweights of all time in Willie Carson.
Dunfermline belonged to the Queen, who was enjoying her Silver Jubilee year and had already landed one Classic earlier in the season when Dunfermline scored in the Oaks – a victory popular across Britain with all but a young Luca Cumani, who trained the duo left in the royal filly's wake, Freeze The Secret and Vaguely Deb.
But, come Leger day, Alleged and Lester Piggott were 4-7 favourites thanks to a seven-length romp in the Great Voltigeur, and the royal filly a 10-1 chance.
They went a proper pace and it developed into a sustained and gritty duel up the long Donny straight before Dunfermline and Carson ground out their superiority by a hard-won length and a half.
Carson says of the mare's great day: "She was a real stayer who did everything slowly but gave her all. She had won the Oaks, which made it a fabulous year for the Queen, and beating Lester was always satisfying because he was the great man to ride against."
It is perhaps rare for both class and courage to come to the fore these days in our longest and oldest Classic, but they did that September afternoon and the Town Moor crowd gave the winners a massive reception.
Of course the main architect was the severe but superb Hern, perhaps one of only three or four trainers in my lifetime of whom it can genuinely be said that the game held few, if any, mysteries.
It was a battle royal between two extraordinary teams: Vincent O'Brien and Lester v the Major and Willie. Alleged was the greater racehorse but this was a girl's day out – for Dunfermline and Her Majesty.
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