A BARGAIN-BUY as a yearling, Getting Leggie has given Bendigo trainer Nick Smart one of the biggest and certainly most emotional wins of his career.
The seven-year-old gelding underlined his status as one of the rising stars of the jumping ranks with a tenacious win in the $135,000 Brierly Steeplechase (3450m) at Warrnambool on Tuesday.
Brilliantly ridden by Clayton Douglas, Getting Leggie produced an accomplished and courageous jumping performance and a brilliant display of endurance, to finish 1.25 lengths clear of the Eric Musgrove-trained Lucques, with I'll'ava'alf close up in third.
The Patrick Payne-trained favourite Slowpoke Rodriguez ($2.70) worked home for fourth, but was never a threat, while He's A Genius and Zataglio were early race casualties.
Smart, who purchased Getting Leggie as a yearling for a mere $1000, was overcome with emotion in the moments after the win.
"I just love this horse ... he's been with me ever since I started training and we've gone through a lot," he said.
"I bought him for a thousand dollars at the first lot of yearling sales I went to as a trainer, so it was very emotional.
"I put that up there as my biggest victory. I've won Group races before, but to come down to Warrnambool and win the Brierly, I put that the top of my ladder."
He's a special horse ... tough as old boots ... he's a ripper.Nick Smart
Getting Leggie broke a two-year win drought with his Brierly win.
The gelding had not saluted since his victory over the hurdles at the 2018 Warrnambool carnival.
Despite the long-gap between wins, Smart headed to Warrnambool with plenty of confidence and convinced the horse was over the odds at his eventual starting price of $14.
The former South Australian trainer paid full praise to Douglas, who brought up a race-to-race double following his earlier steeplechase win aboard the Symon Wilde-trained Georgethefifth.
"What a great ride .... I only got Clayton after acceptances, I was stuck without a rider for a while," he said.
"He gave him a peach of a ride.
"I came here filled with confidence and I filled Clayton with confidence."
Smart revealed he had originally set Getting Leggie for the $315,000 Grand Annual Steeplechase, also run on Tuesday, and won by the short-priced favourite Ablaze.
"It's a little bit bittersweet, can we put this on laybuy till next year so we can go to the Whalers?" he told broadcaster Racing.com in reference to the popular Warrnambool hotel, currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Smart is now eyeing the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat in late August.
"The Grand Annual (at Warrnambool) can be something for next year," he said.
"He's a special horse ... tough as old boots ... he's a ripper."
The Brierly win was Smart's second big race win since his arrival in Bendigo last year following his move from Ballarat.
He won the Listed Tokyo City Cup (1800m) at Morphettville last September with Single Handed.
Judging by the response post-race, Getting Leggie's victory was clearly his most sentimental.
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