Celestial Legend storms home to win G1 Doncaster Mile

Les Bridge has done it again.

The 85-year-old Hall Of Fame trainer has won a Golden Slipper with Sir Dapper, a Melbourne Cup with Kensei, an Everest with Classique Legend and now a second Doncaster with Celestial Legend, 39 years after Row Of Waves gave him his first.

But as good as those horses were, Bridge believes three-year-old Celestial Legend could be his best yet.

“This is some horse. I’ve had a lot of good horses, but this horse is unbelievable,” Bridge said.

“You get horses like this, I thought I’d get one in a lifetime – I keep getting them.

“He is a superstar.”

A last start winner of the Randwick Guineas, Celestial Legend looked to be in bother when he settled among the tailenders then was strung up behind a wall of horses in the straight.

But jockey Tyler Schiller, who had wasted for weeks to ride the colt at 49kg, threaded the needle and Celestial Legend ($6.50) burst through a gap to hunt down Pericles ($41) and score by three-quarters of a length with another three-year-old, Militarize ($11), a short half-head back in third.

Bridge admitted he thought Celestial Legend was a forlorn chance at the top of the straight.

“I didn’t think he could win and he just got out,” Bridge said.

“For a three-year-old in this era to win a Doncaster when they’ve got these compressed weights and all these good horses are so close to him in the weights, that was the only thing that made me worry a bit.

“I’m old-fashioned. You get these good, tough horses with the compressed weights, but this horse is just terrific.”

Schiller also feared he was going to stay pocketed in the straight and said it took a brave horse to shoulder his way through.

“I didn’t think I was going to get out to be honest,” Schiller said.

“I probably took a gap I wouldn’t take usually but once he found that clear air, as I said in his trackwork, he knows where the line is.”

It was the young jockey’s third Group 1 win, but Schiller said celebrations would be muted as he needed to ride light again aboard Athabascan in next weekend’s Sydney Cup.

He also admitted that while he felt fit coming into Saturday, riding on the testing track had started to take its toll before his Doncaster Mile (1600m) triumph eased the pain.

“I didn’t feel that bad, but once I had a couple of rides it really set in and to come out and win, it makes it all so much worth it,” he said.

Godolphin had to settle for its second Group 1 placing of the afternoon with Pericles after stablemate Traffic Warden was narrowly beaten in the Sires’ Produce Stakes by Manaal.

Pericles’ jockey Blake Shinn said his horse was run down by a “superstar”.

“He ran amazing to finish second beaten by the superstar three-year-old. Had a great run, very gallant,” Shinn said.

Jamie Kah told punters not to give up on beaten betting app favourite Another Wil, who had a tough run from a wide draw.

“He ran well, he just did way too much work. He will be right for another race,” Kah said.

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