Some familiar names will return to the saddle at Doncaster on Wednesday when retired jockeys from both codes make brief comebacks for the Mondialiste Leger Legends Classified Stakes.
The race was first run in 2010 when Charlie Swan, who will forever be associated with three‐times Champion Hurdler Istabraq, rode Miami Gator to victory.
Pat Eddery, John Francome and Kevin Darley were other former jockeys who rode in the initial year of the Leger Legends. Since its inception, the race has been won by American rider Julie Krone, Mick Kinane, AP McCoy and Joseph O’Brien.
Sammy Jo Bell will go into this year’s contest as the defending champion. She was successful on Dubai Acclaim for her old boss Richard Fahey in 2019. Last year, due to COVID‐19 restrictions, the race was only open to current jockeys.
The Leger Legends is the only race in the calendar for ex‐professional jockeys. In the 11 years since it was first held it has raised more than £1million for its chosen charities.
The money raised is split between the Injured Jockeys Fund and the National Horseracing College. The Injured Jockeys Fund has three specialist rehabilitation centres that cost £2million to run each year.
Oaksey House in Lambourn, Newmarket’s Sir Peter O’Sullevan House and Jack Berry House in Malton each contain specialist rehabilitation facilities, state‐of‐the‐art training equipment and respite accommodation for extended treatment as well as support from highly‐qualified physiotherapists, conditioning coaches and nutritional experts.
The National Horseracing College, based just a few miles from Doncaster Racecourse, is a centre of excellence for training people for careers in racing. It caters for all manner of roles within the industry through its extensive range of courses.
Among those to have trained at the college have been top jockeys Hollie Doyle, Danny Tudhope and Hayley Turner as well as trainers Rebecca Menzies and Daniel Kubler. The money raised from the Leger Legends race has gone to fund on‐site accommodation.
This year two of the giants of National Hunt racing will compete in the Mondialiste Leger Legends Stakes for the first time.
Richard Johnson was runner‐up behind AP McCoy in the jockeys’ title race no less that 16 times before going on to be crowned Champion Jockey on four occasion late in his career. He retired in April having ridden more than 3,500 winners.
There wasn’t many big races Barry Geraghty didn’t win in more than 20 years as a jump jockey. He rode some of the sport’s greatest chasers like Sprinter Sacre, Moscow Flyer and Kicking King.
Richard and Barry will be joined in the Leger Legends race by 11 other former riders, including Brian Harding, who won the Champion Chase on One Man, Champion Hurdle‐winning jockey Noel Fehily and Charlie Poste, who recorded his biggest win in the Welsh National.
Former Champion Apprentices Amy Ryan, Robert Winston and Gary Bardwell are also in the line‐up along with 2019 Leger Legends winner Sammy Jo Bell, Dale Irving, Mark Grant, Dave Crosse and Ollie Pears.