Leading Light sets shining example

Jockey O’Brien rides the perfect race to bring his father a fourth St Leger triumph – a year late

Racing Correspondent

If a landmark victory in a £600,000 Classic can have a bittersweet tang, then this one did for Joseph O’Brien. A year after his agonisingly narrow defeat in the St Leger on Camelot, a reverse that denied that colt Triple Crown immortality, the young Irishman won his first edition of the oldest Classic, on Leading Light. But his immediate celebration yesterday was slightly muted. Was there any compensation to be found 12 months on? “A little,” he said. “I suppose.”

The St Leger, first run in 1776, is not only the most venerable of the Classics, but also the toughest. An extended mile and three-quarters, with a straight run-in of half a mile, is a test of staying power and resolution that takes no prisoners. Leading Light, with his stamina already proven by a two-mile success at Royal Ascot, started a well-backed 7-2 favourite and was ridden with commensurate confidence by O’Brien.

Sensing a slow pace, he sent the white-blazed bay through the field early to take station behind the pacesetting Cap O’Rushes before allowing him to stride to the front a full two furlongs from home.

The only serious challenge came from Derby third Galileo Rock, another at the sharp end for most of the way, but once fully urged by O’Brien, Leading Light asserted and strode powerfully clear through the final furlong to take the Ladbrokes-sponsored prize by a length and a quarter. The filly Talent, heroine of the Oaks, stayed on from off the pace to pinch second from Galileo Rock in the closing strides, but she was no threat to the winner. The Derby runner-up Libertarian finished fourth.

“Mine jumped a bit slow,” O’Brien said, “and I could see a couple of horses going forward and I knew we weren’t going to go much of a gallop, so I gave him a bit of a kick just to get up there.

“He’s quite lazy in his races, which is why he wears the cheekpieces. I got him going plenty early enough in the straight, but he was travelling well and responded really well when I asked. I knew if I didn’t have to get after him until a furlong and a half down he’d win.”

The son of Montjeu gave his trainer, O’Brien’s father, Aidan, his fourth St Leger, after Milan (2001), Brian Boru (2003) and Scorpion eight years ago. It was only the eighth victory in 237 runnings for Ireland and, remarkably, seven of those emerged from Ballydoyle. The first three – Ballymoss, Ragusa and Boucher – were courtesy of O’Brien Snr’s predecessor at the Co Tipperary base, the unrelated Vincent O’Brien, with Ragusa, saddled by Paddy Prendergast, the odd man out.

The progressive Leading Light, good-looking and well-bred enough to have cost his Coolmore partnership owners nearly £550,000 as a yearling, has won five of his six races, beaten only on his debut. And having proven himself a Group One performer against proven Classic yardsticks, he may be dropped back to a mile and a half in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

“He’s a very solid horse,” O’Brien Snr said, “and there is plenty of class there. Yes, the two-mile race [the Queen’s Vase] was picked as his Royal Ascot target, but before that he’d been winning over a mile and a quarter. He’s very versatile, and we will certainly be thinking about the Arc.”

The colt is around a 20-1 shot for next month’s Paris showpiece, though he would have to be supplemented. The bookmakers fancy his chances better as a top-class staying prospect, though; they offer only 5-1 against his winning next year’s Ascot Gold Cup.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas