GRAHAM Bradley plans to ride out the storm of his controversial return to the saddle in the Fudge And Smudge Leger Legends Classified Stakes at Doncaster this afternoon.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey was one of the best jockeys of his generation but his career was blighted by several run-ins with racing’s hierarchy.
Now a bloodstock agent, Bradley, who is 50 the same day, is back in the fold after serving a five-year ban for selling privileged information.
Like all the riders in the charity event, the former jump jockey has been granted a one-day licence by the British Horse Authority, but the decision has being criticised in some quarters.
“It’s a race of legends. It’s a big honour and I’m absolutely over the moon,” he said.
“I don’t know what all the fuss is about. All I got found guilty of was giving a bloke a few winners, not losers, years before Betfair.”
Bradley has been checking up on his mount, Aflaam, trained by Ron Harris.
“I’m looking forward to it and I’ve got a good little ride. He was second at Leicester last time and not beaten very far on soft ground and the rain’s come. He wouldn’t be without a little chance,” he went on.
“I rode against John Francome when I was a young lad and I’ve been riding out with him most mornings.
“It will be brilliant and really good fun – Pat Eddery, Kevin Darley, John Reid, Ernie Johnson. They are all legends.
“I’ve come down from 13st 3lb to just under 11st 7lb, so I’ve done well and I only got brought in at the last minute (for Micky Hammond). I’ve lost 1st 10lb in a month.”
Four of the jockeys on show – Pat Eddery, Kevin Darley, George Duffield and John Reid – have all won Doncaster’s most famous race, the St Leger.
“I’m just privileged to be taking part in it. It’s for a great cause – win, lose or draw, winning would be a bonus,” said Duffield.
“I’ll be as fit as anyone riding. When push comes to shove we’ll be pretty much in the same barrow. When you’ve not ridden competitively for a number of years it’s not the same. You can ride out as much as you like but it’s no substitute for race riding.
“I ride four or five lots every day, so I’m not short on fitness but I wouldn’t be race-riding fit. I’m sure some will be fitter than others.
“Everybody is taking it very seriously as you would expect. We are all very competitive, that’s why we did what we did.”
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