Vintage effort makes Ted Durcan the Legends hero on Central City
Class tells, whatever the age. What's a few extra years when you're dealing with a vintage wine? Or jockey?
That's been the message of the Clipper Logistics Leger Legends Classified Stakes, an inspired concept that's on the brink of raising a seven-figure sum for hugely worthwhile causes.
The likes of Julie Krone, Mick Kinane, Joseph O'Brien were obviously not at the height of their physical powers when they landed a contest that celebrates the riding stars of the past – yet none had lost the nous and trackcraft that had brought each a host of Group and Grade 1 wins before retirement.
Ted Durcan was the only British Classic winner taking part in the ninth running of a race as popular with jockeys as it clearly is with the racegoers, who were clamouring for Luke Harvey's autograph in the minutes before the off.
He may now be 45 and he may have quit race-riding last February, but the tactical skill that earned Durcan Oaks success on Light Shift and got him up close home on Mastery in the St Leger is still there.
You could see that as he settled uncertain stayer Central City, upped to a mile on his first run since being claimed by Ian Williams, then produced him to catch Andrew Thornton on the Les Eyre-trained Detachment in the final 75 yards for victory by a length and a quarter.
"He was a smashing horse to ride," said the jockey, keen as ever to redirect plaudits towards his mount.
"I know he'd been running over six and seven furlongs, but Ian was adamant he would stay. He switched off lovely, they went reasonably hard and it opened up like the Red Sea. It worked out, but it was all because of the horse I had."
Of course Durcan, whose 1,500-odd winners worldwide included a Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup success on Somnus, had not exactly been idle since his last ride in public.
"I ride out every morning for Sir Michael Stoute and I'm active enough," he said. "I swim a lot. But you miss the weighing room, all the slagging, it's a laugh, so this is a lovely afternoon."
Central City's transformation from £10,000 claim to showcase winner advertised his trainer's eye for a bargain, but there's an even bigger financial good news story.
The latest running of Tim Adams' brainchild, together with lunch, auction and silent auction, took the total raised for Jack Berry House and the Northern Racing College since the race was founded in 2010 close to £1 million.
"It's really well organised, they've raised huge amounts of money, so hats off to everyone," Durcan said. "All the hard work starts months ago and it raises money for great causes."
Thornton, like Durcan having his first ride in the race, had looked to be full of running when he hit the front three furlongs out, and he joked: "The winning post moved!
"If you kick on with three to go jumping it's perfect, but it felt like three-quarters of a mile from home! But it was a great ride for a master trainer and I'll be back next year, weight dependant – I'd better stay in training!"
There was no Alastair Cook-style farewell hurrah for Dale Gibson, who had announced he was riding in the race for the final time.
He's standing down, having been a founding member of the organising committee, and after finishing 14th on Luna Bear he said: "As always, it was great to ride in. It's great for Ted and the race has been a resounding success again, everyone's enjoyed it and that's what it's all about."
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