Harbour Law wins a dramatic St Leger from Ventura Storm and Housesofparliament, as Idaho runs loose in behind
Image by Steven Cargill
Harbour Law won an extraordinary renewal of the Group 1 Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes at Doncaster this afternoon, as the odds-on favourite Idaho stumbled and unshipped his rider.
Nine colts went to post for the final Classic of the 2016 season in the UK.
Muntahaa was up with the leaders early on, along with Sword Fighter, the Queen’s Vase winner.
Muntahaa continued to take the field along from Sword Fighter, who was switched to his outside, with The Tartan Spartan third and then Ventura Storm and Housesofparliament, who was tracked by Idaho and Harbour Law, Harrison and Ormito.
Racing to the home turn, Muntahaa continued to set the tempo, with Sword Fighter close up as they straightened up. However, there was huge drama as Idaho appeared to take a false step, stumbled and unseated Seamie Heffernan.
At the three furlong pole, Housesofparliament was given the office by Colm O’Donoghue and went on as Muntahaa folded, but the move was covered by Silvestre De Sousa and Ventura Storm, next to the rail.
The pair settled down to a terrific scrap over the last quarter of a mile, while all the time Harbour Law and George Baker closed, with the rest of the field out of touch.
Ventura Storm gradually wore down Housesofparliament but Harbour Law, who bundles of stamina, came to collect them both and at the line recorded a sensational victory.
Harbour Law, a son of Lawman, had run second in the two mile Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot, but showed a good turn of foot here to narrowly beat Ventura Storm, with Housesofparliament third.
The Laura Mongan trained winner was unraced at two, but won a Salisbury maiden in early May and a Sandown Park handicap later that month.
Idaho was thankfully reported to be fine along with his jockey later on.
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 its 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.”
George Baker had been previously been denied two big prizes on Friday at Doncaster. He was beaten a nose on Quest For More in the 250th Doncaster Cup (by Sheikhzayedroad) and also by length and a quarter on Seamour in the Ladbrokes Mallard Handicap (by Wall Of Fire).
“I can’t believe that,” said Baker.
“I am so happy for Laura and Ian (Mongan – former jockey and Laura’s husband) because they have had so much belief in him.
“They have done everything right – they have given him plenty of time between his races and it has 110 per cent paid dividends for them.
“It’s an amazing feeling. It was a hard day yesterday and I find that you have to get over it, work out if you think you can make any improvement and get on with it.
“Today is just a sweet, sweet result.
“I worked him at Kempton about two weeks ago and he felt brilliant. I kind of felt that we all had Idaho to beat and, when they had that incident, it made it a very open race.”
He added, “I am just very pleased for Laura and Ian. They have a British Classic winner! They have worked really hard with him, have placed him really well and have also given him plenty of time between his races.”
Silvestre de Sousa, on second-placed Ventura Storm, said: “It was a good effort. He was just unlucky.”
Colm O’Donoghue, on third Housesofparliament, said: “He ran a blinder. The pace was strong throughout. He travelled very smooth but he may not have wanted that bit of rain to come – he is a very good mover. He ran a gallant race.”
Paul Hanagan, on Muntahaa (4th), said: “They didn’t really go quick enough for me so I had to make my own running. He was also a bit to keen. He made the running at Chester and is maybe still thinking about that.”
Donnacha O’Brien, on Sword Fighter (5th), said: “He went ok. He just lacks a little bit of class over a mile-and-six.”
Graham Lee, partner of Harrison (6th) said: “He ran well.”
Oisin Murphy, on Ormito (7th), said: “We went a nice clip. It rode like a decent renewal. It was just hard luck on Seamie Heffernan (who unseated from the favourite Idaho). I hit a false patch of ground as I came round the bend and was lucky not to come down.”
Phillip Makin, on The Tartan Spartan (8th), said: “It is only the third run of his life and he is perhaps still a bit weak. He ran as an outsider and he ran like an outsider. He is perhaps a little bit better than that.”
Ventura Storm, owned by a 12-strong syndicate of the Middleham Park Racing, is trained by Richard Hannon who said: “He has run a great race and he looked like he was going to win for most of the straight but got chinned.
“I am a little disappointed not to win but I could not be more pleased with the horse – he has run a super race and the owners are delighted.”
Kevin Buckley, Coolmore’s representative in Britain, talked about 4/6 favourite Idaho unseating Seamie Heffernan three furlongs from home and Housesofparliament’s third place.
He said: “I just hope Seamie is all right – I have not heard the latest but I believe he is up on his feet. The horse might have taken a false step which is so disappointing. The main thing is that Seamie is OK – he is meant to be flying over to Leopardstown.
“Housesofparliament ran well – I am not making excuses but the horses are taking the top off the ground and on his last two races at Newmarket and York he has shown that he does appreciate proper good to firm ground. That might have blunted him a little bit but fair play to Laura Mongan and her team – a great result and for George Baker too.”
The 2016 Ladbrokes St Leger – Result
Group 1, £700,000 total prize fund. 3.45pm, Saturday, September 10, 1m 6f 132y. For three-year-olds only, entire colts (9st 1lb) and fillies (8st 12lb). Entries closed July 19, entries revealed July 20 (42 entries), scratchings deadline August 23 (25 remained), five-day confirmation & £50,000 supplementary stage September 5 (15 confirmations), final declarations 10.00am, September 8 (9 declared runners). Penalty value 1st £396,970.00 2nd £150,500.00 3rd £75,320.00 4th £37,520.00 5th £18,830.00 6th £9,450.00
1 HARBOUR LAW (Jackie Cornwell) Laura Mongan 3-9-01 George Baker 22/1
2 VENTURA STORM (IRE) (Middleham Park Racing LXXII) Richard Hannon 3-9-01 Sivestre De Sousa 14/1
3 HOUSESOFPARLIAMENT (IRE) (Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor) Aidan O’Brien IRE ts3-9-01 Colm O’Donoghue 7/1
4 MUNTAHAA (IRE) (Hamdan Al Maktoum) John Gosden h3-9-01 Paul Hanagan 4/1
5 SWORD FIGHTER (IRE) (Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Sue Magnier) Aidan O’Brien IRE 3-9-01 Donnacha O’Brien 9/1
6 HARRISON (Tim Radford) Mick Channon 3-9-01 Graham Lee 40/1
7 ORMITO (GER) (Richard Morecombe & Lynda Ramsden) Andrew Balding cp1 3-9-01 Oisin Murphy 20/1
8 THE TARTAN SPARTAN (IRE) (Thistle Bloodstock Limited) Pat Shanahan IRE 3-9-01 Phillip Makin 66/1
UNSEATED RIDER) IDAHO (IRE) (Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Sue Magnier) Aidan O’Brien IRE 3-9-01 Seamie Heffernan 4/6 FAV
Time: 3m 05.48s
Distances: ¾, sh, 10, 8, 2, neck, 5
Tote Win £29.60 Places £4.20, £2.70, £2.00 Exacta £218.60
Breeder: Hascombe And Valiant Studs
Breeding:b c Lawman (FR) – Abunai (Pivotal)
Laura Mongan consequently became the first woman to train a winner of the Ladbrokes St Leger.
Mongan is only the third UK-based woman trainer to win a Classic. Pam Sly saddled Speciosa in the 2006 1,000 Guineas while Helen Johnson Houghton trained the 1956 2000 Guineas hero Gilles De Retz. Gilles De Retz ran in the name of Johnson Houghton’s assistant trainer Charles Jardine due to women being unable to hold a training licence at the time. French-based Criquette Head-Maarek has also won the 1000 Guineas four times.
Harbour Law becomes the first Classic winner trained in Epsom since Right Tack in the 1969 2000 Guineas (trained by John Sutcliffe Jnr).
This was also a first Classic winner for jockey George Baker.
The Stewards held an enquiry into the fall of Seamie Heffernan, the rider of IDAHO (IRE), approaching 3 furlongs out. They were unable to interview the rider as he was being assessed by the medical staff. Having viewed recordings of the incident the Stewards found that the fall was caused by IDAHO (IRE) stumbling when being switched right handed, causing the rider to be unseated. Being satisfied that no other horse or rider was involved, the Stewards took no further action.
Oisin Murphy, the rider of ORMITO (GER), unplaced, reported that the colt stumbled approximately 5 furlongs out.