Tom Marquand picked up a memorable winning spare ride as Galileo Chrome landed the Pertemps St Leger at Doncaster.
Shane Crosse was forced to miss the mount on Joseph O’Brien’s charge when testing positive for Covid-19 on Friday and connections turned to Marquand, who was taken off then Investec Derby favourite English King the week before the Epsom Classic.
He was at his strongest aboard the 4/1 winner who was pressed by Berkshire Rocco (16/1) throughout the final furlong but was a neck in front at the line;
Pyledriver (9/2) was a length further away in third, having drifted markedly to his left when throwing down his challenge.
Marquand told ITV Racing: “This is a dream come true. Obviously, I genuinely feel terrible for Shane – because under such circumstances, I can’t imagine what heartbreak that would bring (for me).
“He’s in a similar boat to me – that would have been a first Classic (for him), and now I know how much that means to me. It’s terrible for him – but my God, how the racing game is a leveller.
“The last couple of weeks have felt hard, and to pick up a spare ride like this in a British Classic, for Joseph O’Brien of all people, is incredible.”
O’Brien was becoming only the second man to ride and train a Leger winner, following in the footsteps of Harry Wragg.
Unable to witness the action in person on the track, he said: “I’m at home today – Shane obviously had been in the yard during the week, so just as a precaution any of his close contacts are in the process of being tested, and I just haven’t gone racing to err on the side of caution really.
“But I’m enjoying the racing! I’m lucky enough to be able to watch it from home.”
Andrew Balding said of the runner-up: “I would have settled for that beforehand. He wears his heart on his sleeve and kept digging in but it wasn’t enough. There was no hiding place out there and no excuses. Andrea (Atzeni) gave him a great ride and it’s fantastic to run so well in a Classic.”
Martin Dwyer reported the William Muir-trained Pyledriver’s stamina just ran out as he moved up in trip after his Group Two wins over a mile and a half this season.
“He didn’t stay – it was too far,” said the jockey. “He was over-travelling. After York, I said he could come back to a mile and a quarter. He’s a very honest horse.
“It was unnatural for him. There was a point in the race where I should have been working through the gears and picking up, but I’m having to steady him down. Turning in, I thought he’d win – but he was tired in the last furlong. He was out of his comfort zone.”
Santiago (5-2 favourite) and Hukum were both well-fancied, but had to settle for fourth and fifth respectively.
Dettori said of the former: “He wants a bit of cut in the ground. He came there to win, but he didn’t level off like I thought he would. I felt on softer ground mine would be a better horse.”
Hukum’s trainer Owen Burrows added: “It was just the last furlong and a half. He was out on his head a bit. He stayed at Newbury, but in lesser company. In this class it was a bit too far for him. We always thought he wasn’t a Cup horse. We’ll look forward to next year.”