Brian Harding recalls magical day One Man gained redemption

Thu 8 Mar 2018

If the career of Brian Harding could be summed up by one race, the victory of One Man in the 1998 Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival would be it.

Having had his ability to perform at the track questioned following two defeats in the Gold Cup and another in the Sun Alliance Chase, the Gordon Richards-trained 10-year-old finally laid rest his Cheltenham Festival ghost when striking gold in the two-mile showpiece 20 years ago.

The John Hales-owned gelding showed he had the raw speed to go with the stamina that had seen him win two King Georges and a Hennessy to run out a four-length winner - much to the delight of those in the packed stands.

Harding said: "His record at Cheltenham was not great, so whatever happened, there was no pressure on me. The boss said keep it fairly simple and let him go from the tapes.

"He jumped out and we went a good gallop. Russ Garritty on Ask Tom was upsides me a lot of the way. He was doing everything brilliantly. I got him in a great rhythm and he jumped great and travelled well. At the time, everything felt easy.

"I suppose it was at the top of the hill turning in that I thought he would win. He winged the last and ran up the hill all the way to the line.

"He jumped the last like a fresh horse and ran to the line. I was very lucky and the horse had a big following as well."

Luck can often play a big part in the difference between defeat and success and while Harding, who now combines jockey coaching with the pre-training of horses, needed none in the race, there was an element of fortune in picking up the ride on the gallant grey.

He added: "Tony Dobbin was supposed to ride him, but he got injured the day before. There was no Twitter or Facebook then and I found out I was riding him the night before.

"I had only been back in December as I had been out for a year. I was lucky to work for Gordon Richards as in my eyes he was very loyal and he gave me my chance.

"Gordon had a winner at the Festival the day before (Unguided Missile) and it could have been quite easy to put up Paul Carberry, but he and John Hales gave me the opportunity and, as they say, the rest is history.

"It was great to get a chance to ride him on the big stage and, looking back, I can say I have ridden a Queen Mother winner.

"A lot of luck happened and he was a great spare ride to get. You would love to get a spare ride like him every time."

Moments of such magnitude can often be over within the blink of an eye and for Harding that was exactly how he felt in the aftermath of his crowning achievement in the saddle.

2016 Cheltenham Festival - Ladies Day - Cheltenham Racecourse

He remembered: "It was a bit of a blur. I would love to relive it and take it in more, but it was brilliant to be part of it.

"It passed me by on the day a bit. You don't realise how hard it is to win a Queen Mother and looking back at it now, it was brilliant.

"Because he failed to stay in the Gold Cup he got a bit of stick, but he deserved to finally win a big one at Cheltenham.

"I rode the next day in the Gold Cup aboard Addington Boy. He nearly got brought down at the top of the hill by Rough Quest so that was his race over and it was very much back to normal."

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