Ed Dunlop considers himself “honoured” to have Frankie Dettori riding Roca Magica for him in the Mondialiste Leger Legends Classified Stakes at Doncaster on Wednesday.
The 49-year-old Italian jockey has won just about everything in the game – and was determined to sign up for the race when conditions were changed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the past it has been exclusively for retired riders, but this year it is for current professionals only, due to Covid-19 restrictions.
It has become an established attraction on the opening day of the St Leger Festival on Town Moor since its inception in 2010, and has raised more than £1.1million for Jack Berry House and the Northern Racing College.
Dunlop and Dettori have successfully teamed up in many big races over the years, including with Lailani (2001 Irish Oaks and Nassau Stakes), Ouija Board (2006 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare and Nassau Stakes) and Snow Fairy (2012 Irish Champion Stakes).
This may be low key in comparison, but both trainer and jockey are taking it very seriously.
“Frankie was very keen to ride in the race – it’s the Legends race and we’ve got a legend riding for us, so we’re very honoured,” said Dunlop.
Roca Magica has had a busy year, despite racing being shut down from the middle of March until the beginning of June.
The four-year-old filly has run 12 times, winning five of them, and Dunlop reports his charge to be in rude health, though he cannot estimate what effect her far-side draw in a field of 22 will have on the outcome.
“Drawn one, I’m not sure that’s ideal, but this filly has been a star. She’s won five races this year. She seems in very good form,” said the Newmarket trainer.
Many other stars of the turf are in action, including Tom Queally, who became a household name as the ever-present rider of Frankel, arguably the greatest horse of all time.
Queally rides the John Ryan-trained Catch My Breath, who is drawn on the opposite side of the track to Dettori’s mount in stall 22.
Paul Hanagan is back firing on all cylinders after recently returning from a long spell on the sidelines. The champion jockey of 2010 and 2011, he rides Lexington Warfare for Richard Fahey.
Jim Crowley, who took the title in 2016, has had a tremendous season do far. He teams up with Jamie Osborne on Mykonos St John.
Among other top names taking part are William Buick, Danny Tudhope, Graham Lee and Tom Marquand.