Harbour Law, trained by Epsom handler Laura Mongan, was the 22/1 surprise winner of an incident-packed running of the Group One Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster last Saturday.
Ridden by George Baker, the three-year-old son of Lawman stayed on gamely in the closing stages to beat Richard Hannon’s Ventura Storm (14/1) by three-quarters of a length with Housesofparliament (7/1), trained by Aidan O’Brien, a short-head back in third.
An eventful race saw the warm (4/6) favourite Idaho unseat rider Seamie Heffernan in the home straight, having stumbled when seeming to be travelling powerfully behind the leader.
Harbour Law travelled well throughout the extended one mile and six furlong contest and entering the final furlong came to challenge for the lead. The colt responded to Baker’s urgings to register victory in the shadows of the post in a pulsating finish to the Classic, drawing cheers from the crowd at Town Moor.
Mongan became the first female trainer to ever win Britain’s oldest Classic and along with Baker, was winning her first Classic contest. The victory was also the first time since 1969 that a horse trained in Epsom has won a British Classic [Right Tack, trained by John Sutcliffe junior, 2000 Guineas] .
An emotional Mongan said: “It was brilliant. He is a classy horse. I’m still shocked but that was good! He was good enough and I am just so glad we brought him here. He proved to everyone that he could do it. George knows the horse and did the right thing on him, so credit to him.”
“It was a really professional performance from the horse. We knew he was classy and we knew he was going to go somewhere in life and today he has. It’s amazing. He looked really well in the paddock.”
The trainer was also delighted to help put Epsom back on the map, which once such a fine training establishment, has experienced a spell in the doldrums in recent years.
She commented:.”It’s a bit surreal at the moment but it was absolutely brilliant. We have a great team at home and it proves that we can do it with the right ammunition and it proves that Epsom can do it. We do very well as a team with what we have got at home. It’s just great to have a horse like this and bring him here.”
Mongan also heaped praise on Baker who gave the colt a masterful ride. She remarked: “George knew exactly what to do at the right time and we knew coming into today that we could leave it to George as we had done everything we could at home.”
“We’ve done it. He’s a great horse and I just hope we are lucky enough to hold onto him. All he has done all season is mature and grow up and he is just very exciting. It’s a great day.”
Mongan suggested the horse will continue to improve into his four-year-old campaign adding: “I feel now that he will be an even better horse next year. He’s exciting.”
Ian Mongan, Group One winning jockey and Laura’s husband, said: “We’ve had a lot of faith in this horse but did we think he would win the St Leger? Maybe. He has come up against the best of the best. From a little yard in Epsom, we are taking on the mighty power of Coolmore and all the other trainers.”
“Henry Cecil sat me down three or four years ago and told me that good horses make good trainers and jockeys and that is exactly what happened today. He is a good horse. We were lucky that he came into our yard and all you have to do is feed them well and train them well and they’ve got engines and take you to special places. This horse has taken us to the St Leger – a Classic race. No woman trainer has ever won this race and Laura has done it today.”
“Laura’s a fantastic trainer, a fantastic wife and a fantastic mother. We left our seven-year-old daughter Daisy at home today to come here and it’s her birthday and now we’ve justified it.”
“To train a St Leger winner, I can’t quite believe it. I rode in the Derby and the 2000 Guineas but never in the St Leger. This means so much to me and to Laura and the family and the yard. Epsom has struggled since the rise of Newmarket and Lambourn. Hopefully, this will put it back on the map.”
“I can’t get my head around the fact that this horse has won the St Leger. We came into today hoping he would run well and we thought we could only dream that he’d win but he has. He’s such a lovely horse.”
“Of all the horses we have who are rated 50, 60, 70, 80, he is the easiest horse to train. This good horse has come to our yard and he has put us on the map. He’s very professional and he’s a class act.”
Akhlaaq can hit the winning post Saturday in the Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury.
Yours In Sport!