Four years ago the partisan crowd at Doncaster erupted when Bollin Eric galloped to victory in the St Leger, providing a local win for Yorkshiremen Tim Easterby and Kevin Darley.
He became the first locally-trained horse to be successful in the oldest Classic since Peleid won in 1973, and added to that Bollin Eric posted first Classic successes for both his trainer and his jockey.
Bollin Eric had always been highly thought of by Easterby, and finished placed in two maidens as a juvenile before winning on his third attempt at Beverley over a mile, storming four lengths clear of his nearest pursuer. This was followed up by victory in a valuable nursery at Doncaster.
He was stepped up in class when he next ran – as a three-year-old the following season – and was to boast an exceptionally consistent record from then on, finishing third in the Feilden Stakes before chasing Moon Ballad home in the Dante Stakes at York.
Bollin Eric was to be placed three more times in Group and Listed contests that summer, and while he failed to win, it was evident through his resolute style of running and tenacity that a step-up in trip would prove the making of him.
And so it did. The one-mile-six-furlong trip of the Leger may have been the undoing of favourite Bandari, but Bollin Eric relished every yard of it, beating Highest by a length and a quarter, with future Ascot Gold Cup winner Mr Dinos back in fifth place.
Darley had ridden Bollin Eric before, but that season the Shaamit colt had also been partnered by Robert Winston, Willie Supple and Kieren Fallon.
However, an astute Darley had been keen to get back on board.
“It was probably the only ride I’ve ever rung up for myself,” he remembered. “The ride was floating about and I rang Tim – I thought the horse had a good chance and thankfully I got on him.
“With it being my first British Classic winner it was obviously a memorable day – it meant a lot to me.
“He was a lovely horse to ride. He was funny in that he was by Shaamit and everybody thought he wanted soft ground. He was one of those sort of horses who was a galloper and his ideal conditions were good to soft, just to stop anything else picking up on him because he was such a relentless galloper.”
Darley fondly recalls the ease in which Bollin Eric won the St Leger.
“The race went spot on,” he adds. “He was always travelling well. There was nothing going better than me and when I switched him out and let him use himself it was all over.”
Bollin Eric was kept in training as a four-year-old and proved himself to be as consistent as ever in eight starts, including a second to Indian Creek in the Hardwicke Stakes and a fourth place in a vintage renewal of the King George behind Alamshar – finishing in front of Falbrav, Nayef and Grandera. His final success came with a decisive victory in the Lonsdale Stakes, defeating Cover Up by two lengths.
After finishing eighth in the Arc behind Dalakhani, the decision was taken to retire Bollin Eric to the National Stud in Newmarket for the 2004 season.
He has since stood under their banner at Wood Farm Stud in Telford, Shropshire, where he is proving to be a popular choice for National Hunt breeders.
The stud is managed by Bill Bromley who reports Bollin Eric to be doing well in his new career.