Riding legends back in action for John Shortt Charity Race
Some of the most gifted riders to have ever pulled on a pair of breeches will come together for the John Shortt Legends Race at Punchestown on Tuesday, run in aid of the former rider’s family.
Shortt, who died aged 53 this year, was a hugely popular national hunt rider who rode around 400 winners, including Space Trucker in the 1996 Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
He retired in 1998 and became a jockeys' agent, with Conor O'Dwyer, Charlie Swan, Shay Barry and Ken Whelan among those he had on his books.
Many of his friends will be turning out at Punchestown for the race including Norman Williamson, who has landed the plum ride on high-class Flat stayer Pallasator, making his debut here for Gordon Elliott having previously been based with Sir Mark Prescott.
“I know Gordon [Elliott] well and I was in his yard about two weeks ago when he suggested I ask Sheikh Fahad if I could ride Pallasator in the charity race,” Williamson said.
“He is a high class horse on the Flat and thanks to Sheikh Fahad for letting me ride him. He is quirky, but he seems to be in a good place at Gordon's and he's looking very well in himself.
“It's a good race to start him off in and it's obviously for a fantastic cause. I said a long time ago that I wouldn't be taking part in any charity races but this one is a bit different. John was a great pal of mine and when I went to England in 1989 he took me under his wing.
“There are lots of old friends reunited at Punchestown on Tuesday. Guys I rode with all my life but some you wouldn't see that often, and it's great that we can all come together and take part in this great event."
Many familiar partnerships will be reunited in the 1m6f contest, with Michael Kinane riding Air Supremacy for Aidan O'Brien, and the recently retired Paul Carberry riding Monksland for his old boss and friend, Noel Meade.
Carberry said: “It's great to be putting the silks on again. I was talking to Noel yesterday and he said the horse is well and that he runs well fresh. I've been busy myself and have been doing lots of show jumping, so fitness shouldn't be a problem.”
More information on the event can be found at www.punchestown.com.
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