McEvoy, Bridge Hunt First G1 Together

They shared in Classique Legend’s remarkable Everest triumph, but trainer Les Bridge and jockey Kerrin Mcevoy are yet to team up for a Group One win.

The pair is hoping to change that on Saturday when they combine with emerging three-year-old Celestial Legend in the Randwick Guineas (1600m), more than 20 years after winning their first stakes race together at the same track.

McEvoy was a fresh-faced rider in his early 20s when he partnered the Bridge-trained Miss Zoe to victory in the 2002 Emancipation Stakes, kicking off a partnership that has yielded another five black-type wins, three of those aboard Classique Legend.

However, injury prematurely ended the grey’s time on the racetrack and Classique Legend never got the chance to contest a Group 1 race in Australia.

Given Bridge has only ever had a handful of horses on his books during the latter stages of his 60-year training career, opportunities to win majors are rare, so McEvoy is all the more determined to grasp Saturday’s chance with both hands.

“I did ride for Les a long way back. I won a Group Two on Miss Zoe in the early 2000s for him,” McEvoy said.

“And then Classique Legend, that’s when I started teaming up with (owner) Bon Ho and again with Les.

“Celestial Legend is an exciting young horse and who knows? He’s going out to 1600 for the first time and he’s definitely open to a bit more improvement out to that distance.”

A brilliant last start winner of the Hobartville Stakes, Celestial Legend is on the second line of Randwick Guineas betting behind proven Group1 performer Militarize.

McEvoy has the insight of having partnered the latter to a first-up placing behind Fangirl in the Apollo Stakes and admits Celestial Legend must continue his upward trajectory if he is to topple the favourite.

However, he believes Celestial Legend does have the scope to mount that challenge, a belief stemming not only from his own faith in the horse, but that of 85-year-old Bridge.

“Les knows a good horse, he has been around more than most of us, and that gives you good confidence,” McEvoy said.

“It’s interesting because this horse is lightly raced and hasn’t been to any grand finals, then you’ve got Militarize who has.

“He was up and going early and Les had to be a bit patient with this fellow.

“It’s going to be an interesting race.”

As for Classique Legend, his racing days might be over, but McEvoy and his family have taken him into their care, gifting the horse a wonderful new home, and potentially a new career as a showjumper.

Bridge joined McEvoy at the old Showgrounds at Centennial Park earlier this week to watch the jockey’s wife Cathy put Classique Legend through his paces in what McEvoy said was a special morning.

“It’s only early stages but he is really enjoying it,” McEvoy said of Classique Legend.

“And Les was delighted with the way he looked. It was nice to see.”

And it would be nice to see another grey deliver for the pair in the Randwick Guineas.

– RAS NewsWire

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