Jonjo O’Neill reckons he changed his mind about 10 times last week before deciding to run his “old crock” Legal Right, who was so impressive in the Tote Silver Cup at Ascot on Saturday.
As usual, Legal Right was lame when he was led out at O’Neill’s stables near Penrith in Cumbria on Sunday morning. But the trainer was adamant that, by Legal Right’s precarious standards, he was “not too bad” and would definitely be considered for theKing George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
O’Neill was confined to bed at his Skelton Wood End home with a severe attack of flu on Staurday, but the style of Legal Right’s 15-length demolition of Royal Predica and Smarty perked him up no end.
“He is a horse you cannot rely on so we have to leave all doors open. If he comes out of his Ascot race all right then I’d definitely think about going to Kempton for the King George,” said O’Neill, who, thanks to Legal Right, is the only person to have ridden and trained a winner on the flat, over hurdles and over fences at Ascot.
On Sunday he said: “This morning he is lame behind, and while he’s a long way from being sound, he is actually not too bad for him. He ate up well when he got back on Saturday night and we’ll swim him this week. Hopefully in two or three days he will be all right.”
Legal Right’s recurring lameness has driven O’Neill to distraction and yet the trainer’s affinity with his fellow cripple has enabled him to produce the flat-bred – by Alleged out of a Northern Dancer mare – to run for his life after 12 months absence.
“He must be a fair horse, now. Frankly, I didn’t think he’d give two stone to those on Saturday because he is really only a light, flat type of horse. But he jumped round and did the job well. A bit of class always comes through.”
Legal Right was pulling double over his rivals from a long way out on Saturday and when AP McCoy survived Royal Predica’s mistake at the last ditch, four from home Norman Williamson breathed a big sigh of relief.
“I was pleased AP didn’t come down and decided to go for home, otherwise I would have been left in front far too soon. On this showing I think Legal Right could be Gold Cup class,” said Williamson.