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Monday, 22 October, 2018

Three key victories in a 25-year career

One Man and Brian Harding on their way to success in the 1998 Champion Chase
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One Man
1998 Champion Chase

Harding was involved with more than just one immortal chaser, as his father Jonjo broke in Dawn Run, but he will probably be best remembered for a ride he was handed only 24 hours before.

Tony Dobbin, stable jockey for Gordon Richards, broke his thumb in a fall on the Howard Johnson-trained Direct Route in the Arkle. Harding reportedly thought Paul Carberry was likely to get the plum spare ride on One Man in the following day's Champion Chase, but he was chosen to partner the grey for the first time on a racecourse.

Their unfamiliarity did not show. Harding had One Man up with the pace throughout and once he had fellow front-runner Ask Tom hard at work at the top of the hill there was only going to be one winner. 

One Man, the winner of two King Georges and a Hennessy who had nonetheless come up the hill in two Gold Cups as if he had a flat tyre, had no problem coming up to the finish over two miles to gain one of the most popular festival successes of all time.

The French Furze
2003 Fighting Fifth Hurdle

Harding and The French Furze, who combined on 24 of the latter's 62 hurdles starts, ended up being regarded rather similarly as popular veterans who deserved their occasional days in the sun. But Harding was barely out of his 20s when the two combined to land the Fighting Fifth in 2003.

Second in the previous three runnings of the race, The French Furze was nonetheless an unfancied 25-1 shot. It was the last year that the Fighting Fifth was run as a Grade 2 and he made the most of an 8lb allowance from Intersky Falcon to beat him into third with Geos, who took the scalp of Rooster Booster in what is now the Betfair Hurdle next time, in second place.

Granit D'Estruval
2004 Irish Grand National

Not just the man who stepped into Tony Dobbin's shoes at Greystoke, Harding has long been high on the go-to list for any northern jumps trainer in need of a cool and steady hand on the tiller.

When Ferdy Murphy needed a rider for Eider fourth Granit D'Estruval in the Irish National, and one that could do the near-lightweight 9st 11lb, he called for Harding and was duly rewarded. 

Harding was bold and had Granit D'Estruval in front five out at Fairyhouse, but they held on gamely from Marcus Du Berlais.

Harding will probably be best remembered for a ride he was handed only 24 hours before
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