Mongan to lay down Law in Leger
8 Sep 2016
Trainer says Harbour Law would not be a 25-1 for final Classic of the season if he was in a more fashionable yard
Can Harbour Law be a momentous winner for Laura Mongan? Picture: Racingfotos.com
Laura Mongan will seek to make history by becoming the first woman to train the winner of the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster on Saturday when she runs Harbour Law.
Mongan has never previously had a runner in a Group 1 race before, let alone a Classic, but insists Harbour Law is a genuine contender for the £700,000 showpiece, which forms part of the QIPCO British Champions Series and has attracted a final field of nine.
The Lawman colt entered the reckoning when runner-up to Sword Fighter in the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot in June and enhanced his reputation when a close fourth to Housesofparliament in the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket the following month.
He has since been freshened up and a fluent workout at Kempton a fortnight ago under George Baker, his regular rider, convinced his dual purpose handler, who is married to former jockey Ian, that he remains at the top of his game.
“We know we are taking on some of classy horses but we’ve got one ourselves and if he was in a more fashionable yard people might pay more attention to him,” Mongan said. “I don’t like to say we are the underdogs but he’s only the price he is [generally 25-1] because he’s trained by us.
“We are not going there for a day out, or to make up the numbers. We are going there with a horse who is entitled to be there and he could not be in better shape. He’s spot-on.
“It’s the perfect race for him; he’s an out-out stayer who has matured as the year has progressed. He’s professional in everything he does, a joy to train, and if he runs up to the level that he has previously been running this year then he’s good enough to be in the frame.”
Mongan is based a mile from Epsom racecourse and, to date, her biggest success was with First Avenue in the 2013 Imperial Cup (Handicap Hurdle) at Sandown.
“Everyone at the yard is really excited to be involved in the Ladbrokes St Leger. Hopefully there will be a drop more rain, to bring Harbour Law’s stamina into play, and he will do us proud.”
She is likely to get her wish with regard to the weather as showers are forecast tomorrow and Saturday.
The St Leger has been staged since 1776 but there have been few more dramatic renewals than last year when Simple Verse was controversially demoted by the stewards for causing interference to runner-up Bondi Beach, trained by Aidan O’Brien.
Connections of Simple Verse appealed and the decision was reversed at the headquarters of the British Horseracing Authority 11 days later.
It was the third time O’Brien had trained the second home, but he also has four triumphs on his decorated CV – via Milan (2001), Brian Boru (2003), Scorpion (2005) and Leading Light (2013) – and he has a very strong hand this time with Idaho, Housesofparliament and Sword Fighter all representing him.
Idaho has been the long-time ante-post favourite, having been placed in the Investec Derby and Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Irish Derby before pouncing from off the pace to land the Betway Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last month at the main expense of Housesofparliament.
“Everything has been good with Idaho since York, where everything went smooth for him,” O’Brien said at this week’s annual St Leger lunch. “You never can be confident but we have always thought he would get the trip. He seems to relax and is a full-brother to Highland Reel who stays a mile and a half well.”
John Gosden has also enjoyed four St Leger victories – with Shantou (1996), Lucarno (2007), Arctic Cosmos (2010) and Masked Marvel in 2011 – and will attempt to add to that sequence with Muntahaa, who made all in a handicap at Chester on his latest start off a mark of 108, having previously been a staying-on third in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Stobart Champion Champion Jockey Silvestre De Sousa partners Ventura Storm, who gave weight and a beating to Ormito in a Listed race at Hamilton on his penultimate start before scooping a Group Three prize at Deauville last time.
The field is completed by Harrison, well adrift of Idaho in the Great Voltigeur, and The Tartan Spartan, sixth to Sword Fighter in the Queen’s Vase.