Ten-year-old chestnut gelding Bobby Joe Leg is one who hasn’t put a hoof wrong so far in 2024, racking up a four-race winning sequence for trainer Ruth Carr and gathering a new legion of fans in the process.
The veteran, who began his career with a 33-1 victory on the all-weather at Newcastle in November 2017, has since gone on to land a further six in the north east and seven wins from 88 runs out of his Stillington base.
And on Tuesday, he is due to go for the five-timer at his favourite Gosforth Park (5.30), under regular jockey Jimmy Sullivan.
“You don’t expect them to get to that sort of age and run up sequences,” a smiling Carr told The Yorkshire Post.
“He’s 10-year-old and winning off his highest handicap mark (76) he’s had since he was a youngster, so yes it has been a fun time for us.”
The all-weather specialist also ran up a treble in late 2022 at Newcastle and Wolverhampton under stable jockey Sullivan but has never really shown the same aptitude on the turf.
Carr explained: “He just seems to like the all-weather and then by the time he has had a busy all-weather season he is ready for a rest anyway through the summer, so it is just how it has worked out.
“Jimmy has been very good with him. He can be a bit quirky at the stalls and mulish about going in and he has helped me with stalls tests for him. He has been coming in and riding for us for a long time so he’s a great part of the team.”
Bobby’s story is a real family affair, having been bred by Carr’s mother Angela Clark, who is also his owner, as well as going back to her parents for his holidays.
Despite his lower grade status, the horse has his own quirks which Carr has had to tackle down the years.
She said: “He’s a bit highly strung at the races so we have started to let dad (Stephen) take him as late as we dare and away from the other runners so he doesn’t get in a stew. Dad stands with him when he gets to the races and that seems to have helped him too.
“His name is a good story, too! He was called Bobby as a foal and then ‘Joe Leg’ are the initials of mum and dad’s grandchildren – Jacob Oliver Elliott and Luke Edward George.
“We came up with that idea after a good night out…”
Unusually for a horse in such a good run of form, Bobby seems to have been overlooked by the bookmakers who have priced him at 9-1, 7-1, 100-30 and 7-1 for his wins, the most recent with Joanna Mason in the plate in the absence of Sullivan.
She continued: “With him being a bit older and having a name like Bobby lots of people have a connection to the name so it’s been a nice feel-good story for us.
“He’s only low grade but has lots of followers on social media and we get messages and emails saying why people have backed him.”
As well as his prize-money, Bobby has also secured a bonus from the Arena Racecourse Company (ARC) who own 18 racecourses including Newcastle, Southwell and Wolverhampton, for the last two seasons.
“I said to mum at the beginning of this season ‘forget about any bonuses, we are badly handicapped’ and we just need to think about winning a race.
“He has had head gear on and off for most of his career and I ran him over a mile (at Newcastle in December) and he hit a flat spot when really he shouldn’t.
“So I put the headgear back on in the apprentice race where Ryan (Sexton) rode out his claim. He duly won and then could run without a penalty before being reassessed.
“In the meantime we had a stall test as he had been naughty and we were facing a £1,300 fine if he failed it! But we won a share of the bonus with the wins which was welcome.”
Carr started training on her own in 2008 having assisted her grandfather, David Chapman, for fifteen years before taking the licence when he decided to retire and is very much hands-on at Mowbray House farm.
“We had a good season last season, we had 45 winners which is our best for quite some time and on the back of that we have got a few new owners and plenty of fresh faces over the stable doors. It’s an exciting time of year as the grass horses are coming back and you have lots of unknown quantities as well as some of the older horses too.
“I don’t have an assistant as such but I have a great young team, everyone mucks in and helps and a great lady in the office, Chrissie (Sykes) who helps me.
“But I am very hands on, I have ridden six out this morning. I like horses and training them and being deeply involved.”
But the final word belongs to Bobby as he bids to go nap. Carr said: “He likes Newcastle, he goes well at Southwell, but we try not to travel him too far. It’s better if we can stay as close as possible to keep him settled but he likes it up there.
“Can he win again? I don’t know. He could – but who knows?!”