If Sir Ron Priestley wins the 243rd William Hill St Leger at Doncaster tomorrow it would be hailed for being a third Classic for trainer Mark Johnston and for capping the remarkable career of his rider, Franny Norton.
Norton is the jockey who sits next to Frankie Dettori in the changing room, has a cult following at his local racecourse Chester which he rides without peer – though it took him until May to win a coveted first Chester Cup – and is something of a legend (in the modern use of the word) in the sport.
The only jockeys who are older than the Liverpool born, raised and now resident again Norton, 49, are Jimmy Quinn and John Egan. He, Joe Fanning and Dettori are all within a few months of each other and are, still, just the right side of 50.
“I get a birthday text every year from Frankie telling me he’s four months, 18 days and a few hours younger than me!” says Norton whose Scouse sense of humour is, one imagines, the antidote to Dettori when the Italian becomes a handful. “We all sit by the door – because we’re the next out of it!”