Les Bridge, trainer of Classique Legend, cut a lonely figure as he watched The Everest in near-silence.
He was by himself in the Theatre of the Horse behind the Royal Randwick grandstand, leaning against a rail, watching the race on the big screen.
He could hear the roar of the 11,000 race fans as the field jumped away. He could hear the roar again as leader Eduardo broke the field up at a frenetic pace into the straight.
And he could hear the roar as the “Grey Flash” Classique Legend under jockey Kerrin McEvoy made his winning run.
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Kerrin McEvoy celebrates Classique Legend’s stunning win in The Everest. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Bridge didn’t move. He just turned around and started the long walk through the grandstand to meet racing’s new The Everest hero.
“I just wanted to watch the race on my own, take it in,’’ Bridge said.
“I was never worried at any stage of the race. I haven’t been worried for two months.
“Kerrin rode him well, he knows this horse – but I could have won on him today.
Classique Legend takes out the 2020 #TABEverest! Gun ride from @KPMcEvoy
to take it home again! pic.twitter.com/Zv7HBhoIcw
“I just had this feeling, it’s hard to explain. I’ve never been worried even when he was that far back. I just knew this horse would keep coming.’’
The crowd roared as Classique Legend came back to the winner’s stall while Bridge stayed quietly in the background.
Bridge, 82, is a training legend. He’s prepared the winners of the Melbourne Cup, Golden Slipper, Doncaster Mile, Caulfield Guineas and a host of other majors. He’s trained the likes or Sir Dapper, Hot Danish, Kensei, Drawn, Row Of Waves and Avoid Lightning – but he’s never trained a horse like Classique Legend.
“I always said Sir Dapper as the best horse I trained until Classique Legend,’’ Bridge said. “Over 1200m, this grey horse is pretty special.
“Someone asked me the other day why this horse is so good. One of my greatest friends was Percy Sykes, who I spent a lot of time with, and he said it’s all in the genes. Some horses just get all the good genes.
Kerrin McEvoy produced a cool ride on Classique Legend in The Everest. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“This horse has got a girth on him that deep and he’s just got big a V8 motor. It’s unbelievable.
“The horse I got the most pleasure out of in my life was Hot Danish, because at the time my wife was dying with cancer and every time that horse won it gave her a lift.
“So there will never be a horse to replace Hot Danish in my sentiments.’’
But Classique Legend has earned the number one ranking as Bridge’s best racehorse.
Bridge concedes Classique Legend might have had his last start for him as Hong Kong–based owner Bon Ho is keen to race his champion sprinter overseas.
If this was the last time Bridge gets to saddle up Classique Legend then he could not have chosen a bigger stage than The Everest to farewell his super sprinter.
Classique Legend takes out the 2020 #TABEverest
Trainer Les Bridge adds yet another trophy to his cabinet, hear what he had to say post-race with Greg Radley 😄 pic.twitter.com/IgAfM7GfXg
“He’ll still probably go to Hong Kong, we’ll see what happens,’’ Bridge said.
“We ‘kidnapped’ him last time but I don’t know if we can do that again.
“But at this stage of my life I’m just happy I got to train a horse this good.
“I’ve kept telling you he’s a champion, I’ve always said it. I have never had any doubt. You must have asked me a thousand times and I said he would win.
“I’ve been telling you for three months, how much start do you want?”
With that, Bridge tucked his Everest trainer’s trophy under his arm and walked away. He had enough of the fuss and media attention.
He wanted to be alone again and reflect. This time as an Everest-winning trainer.
Originally published asTrainer’s classic quip sums up Legend’s stunning win
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