Legrix gets the best out of old friend

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 December, 1999, 12:00am

GIFTED Frenchman Eric Legrix can afford a pre-Christmas tipple or two after an inspirational double at water-logged Sha Tin yesterday.

The likeable freelance jockey combined with old favourite Small Wonder for Geoff Lane in the Class Four eighth and will be toasting Lawrie Fownes after getting the best out of Bellagio to take the Classes Two and Three finale.

Yesterday's brace pushes Legrix back into the top five in the jockeys' standings with a dozen successes, and he is really starting to thrive in his new role this season as a Club Jockey.

Legrix and Australian mentor Lane - who chalked a winning brace of his own - have proved a potent pairing in the past and Small Wonder is a perfect example of that synergy.

The rising nine-year-old won for them back in March and had slipped to a rating one point lower than that victory.

'I have a really good rapport with this horse [Small Wonder] and he's not so bad for an old fellow,' said Legrix.

'The key to him is to find some cover in the run or he will try to over-race. We had that today and he won like a youngster.' Small Wonder jumped well but was allowed to find his feet in midfield and came through strongly from the 400-metre mark to grind out a solid winner over favourite New Dynasty with Welldone Kid running on late and wide for third.

'I just hope we can get another win out of him before he has to retire because when he is right Small Wonder is an honest horse,' said Legrix But it was the Fownes-trained Bellagio that better showcased Legrix's silken skills.

Unable to find a spot near the rail, he opted to keep Bellagio rolling and on the bit as they travelled three and four wide with cover.

He pressed forward leaving the back straight and was in the firing line by the time heads were turned for home.

With Legrix riding for his life, Bellagio responded and fought back bravely after being headed inside the furlong to score a much-deserved breakthrough victory.

'He jumped well but I couldn't find the fence so when the cover came that was perfect.

'From then on he just tracked through and when I asked him he gave me a good response. He tries very hard,' said Legrix.

It was Bruin Supreme that kicked off Lane's winning double with South African Douglas Whyte doing the honours.

The Palace Music four-year-old pulled his way to the front in the early stages, earning a breather to the home bend before booting clear soon after straightening.

It was a dominant performance from a galloper on the improve and this was his second straight success and first over the longer trip.