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Friday, December 9, 2005


The 17 horses declared for tomorrow’s £110,000 Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) (2.40pm), equals the record for the highest number of runners ever to have gone to post in the Cheltenham feature.

The same number lined up in the 2003 running - known then as the Tripleprint Gold Cup - when Iris Royal triumphed.

This news comes as Cheltenham celebrates being voted Racecourse of the Year again by members of the Racegoers Club.

The commendation from the Racegoers Club says: “Cheltenham is clearly an extremely popular venue with Racegoers Club members, having now won this coveted award 10 times in the last 13 years.

“With almost 6,500 keen and loyal racegoers countrywide, the Racegoers Club is the biggest racegoing club in the country. Competition for the awards has been strong due to the vast number of improvements made at many racecourses in the past year.”

Edward Gillespie, Managing Director at Cheltenham Racecourse, commented: “We are delighted to be voted as Racecourse of the Year by the Racegoers Club for the 10th time in the last 13 years.

“It means a great deal to our entire team that Racegoers Club members continue to enjoy their racing experiences at Cheltenham. We thank them for their loyal support and look forward to welcoming them to Cheltenham in 2006.”

Trainer Martin Pipe is seeking his second big prize at Cheltenham this season tomorrow with Our Vic, successful last month in the £110,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup.

The seven-year-old, who has the top-weight of 11st 12lb in the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup, is attempting to become only the third horse to win both Cheltenham ‘classics’ in the same season, following on from Senor El Betrutti in 1997 and Pegwell Bay in 1988.

Pipe, successful with Fragrant Dawn in 1993 and Northern Starlight in 1998, also runs Therealbandit and Tango Royal.

Nicky Henderson is seeking his third success in the handicap chase over two miles and five furlongs in the space of four years and runs 2002 winner Fondmort, the mount of Mick Fitzgerald, and Scots Grey.

The in-form Paul Nicholls stable will be represented by Thisthatandtother, second to Monkerhostin in this contest 12 months ago, as well as Le Passing.

Lacdoudal put up a decent performance when landing the Future Stars Chase at Sandown a week ago and will be out to give Philip Hobbs his second win in the race following Monkerhostin’s victory in 2004.

Jonjo O’Neill last sent out a runner in the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup when Legal Right was triumphant six years ago and runs two tomorrow - Tony McCoy’s mount Risk Accessor, second to Iris Royal two years ago and a back-to-form second at Newbury last time out, and Quazar.

Two horses on the comback trail are the Richard Guest-trained Our Armageddon, winner of the Cathcart Chase in 2004, and Patricksnineteenth, not seen out since finishing fourth in the 2004 Royal & SunAlliance Chase at The Festival.

Ireland, last successful with Go Roger Go in 2000, has Noel Meade’s Sir Oj, while the Len Lungo-trained Brooklyn Breeze, a disappointment in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, represents Scotland.

Completing the field are the Graham Lee-ridden Europa, a shade unlucky when third behind Monkerhostin last season, Redemption and Mixsterthetrixster.

The feature event is run under the title of the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup for this season as a tribute to the late Robin Cook MP who died suddenly in August of this year.

The tote, seeking a prestigious and high-profile event to support as a fitting memorial to the former foreign secretary, a great friend and follower of racing, secured sponsorship of the race for 2005.

Peter Jones, chairman of the tote, said: “Cheltenham is a place for champions and Robin Cook was a champion of jump racing and the tote as well as a steadfast personal friend.

“I can think of no better event to be named in his memory and I hope we have a traditional rousing Cheltenham finish that will evoke memories of Robin’s tenacity and battling spirit.”

The Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) is race number 17 in the British Horseracing Board's Order of Merit series.

The main supporting race is the £75,000 totesport Bula Hurdle (3.15pm) which has attracted nine runners including Harchibald, second in the 2005 Smurfit Champion Hurdle at The Festival.

Admission prices on Saturday, December 10 - Club/Tattersalls combined £20, 16-24-year-olds £12; Best Mate Enclosure £8.

Accompanied children under 16 enjoy FREE entry while car parking is also FREE.


Class A, Grade Three, £110,000 Total Prize Fund. 2.40pm, Cheltenham, Saturday, December 10. For 5yo+, two miles, five furlongs. Penalties: after November 26, a winner of a Class C chase 4lb; of a class A or B chase 6lb (no penalty to increase a horse's weight above 11st 12lb). Entries closed November 23, entries revealed November 24 (52 entries), weights revealed November 30, five-day confirmation stage December 5 (23 remained), final declaration stage 10.00am, December 9 (17 declarations). Form figures supplied by Weatherbys and are correct up to and including the racing of Thursday, December 8.

Form Horse Age/Wgt Owner Trainer/Jockey
1) 13/FPP-1 OUR VIC (IRE) 7-11-12 David Johnson Martin Pipe/Timmy Murphy
2) 22214-3 THISTHATANDTOTHER (IRE) 9-11-11 Graham Roach Paul Nicholls/Christian Williams
3) 0002P-4 FONDMORT (FR) 9-11-06 Bill Brown Nicky Henderson/Mick Fitzgerald
4) 20330-0 THEREALBANDIT (IRE) p8-11-04 David Johnson Martin Pipe/Andrew Glassonbury (10)
5) 3224-161 LACDOUDAL (FR) 6-11-03 (6lb Ex) Carol Skan Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson
6) 1301-26 QUAZAR (IRE) t7-10-11 C D Carr Jonjo O'Neill/Brian Harding
7) 0341-10 BROOKLYN BREEZE (IRE) 8-10-09 Ashleybank Investments Limited Len Lungo/Tony Dobbin
8) 12553-44 LE PASSING (FR) b6-10-09 The Hon Mrs & J R Townshend Paul Nicholls/Joe Tizzard
9) 0055-01 SCOTS GREY 10-10-07 Henry Ponsonby Nicky Henderson/Robert Thornton
10) 62-1600 TANGO ROYAL (FR) t9-10-06 Brian Kilpatrick Martin Pipe/Tom Malone (3)
11) 10/2214/- PATRICKSNINETEENTH (IRE) 8-10-06 The Large G & T Partnership Paul Webber/Tom Doyle
12) 0FU-2P62 RISK ACCESSOR (IRE) 10-10-04 J P McManus Jonjo O'Neill/Tony McCoy
13) F0B0-0P2 EUROPA 9-10-04 Trevor Hemmings Ferdy Murphy/Graham Lee
14) 121P14/- OUR ARMAGEDDON (NZ) 8-10-03 Leslie Garrett Richard Guest/Larry McGrath (3)
15) 41461-20 MIXSTERTHETRIXSTER (USA)9-10-02 Tracey Barfoot-Saunt Tracey Barfoot-Saunt/Henry Oliver
16) 2000-2F0 REDEMPTION 10-10-02 John Duggan & Michael Purtill Nigel Twiston-Davies/Carl Llewellyn
17) U504-65 SIR OJ (IRE) b8-10-00 Brian Keenan Noel Meade IRE/Paul Carberry

17 declarations
1 Irish-trained


Tracey Barfoot-Saunt
No previous runners

Richard Guest
(Our Armageddon)
No previous runners

Nicky Henderson
(Fondmort, Scots Grey)
1983 2 The Tsarevich
1984 2 Classified
1984 6 The Tsarevich
1992 4 Freeline Finishing
1993 3 Freeline Finishing
1996 P Big Matt
1999 P Stormyfairweather
2004 7 Fondmort
2004 UR Scots Grey

Philip Hobbs
1989 P Joint Sovereignty
1997 3 Bells Life
1998 4 Dr Leunt
1998 6 Stormy Passage
1999 4 Stormy Passage
2000 4 In The Blood
2002 7 Wave Rock
2004 F Farmer Jack

Len Lungo
(Brooklyn Breeze)
No previous runners

Noel Meade IRE
(Sir Oj)
2000 P Hill Society

Ferdy Murphy
1993 P Brandeston
2003 7 Ballinclay King
2004 3 Europa

Paul Nicholls
(Le Passing,Thisthatandtother)
1998 3 Mr Strong Gale
1999 3 Irbee
2000 8 Soldat
2002 5 Fadalko
2003 4 Royal Auclair
2003 6 Armaturk
2004 2 Thisthatandtother
2004 4 Armaturk

Jonjo O’Neill
(Quazar, Risk Accessor)
1998 5 All The Aces

Martin Pipe
(Our Vic, Tango Royal, Therealbandit)
1988 2 Beau Ranger
1989 5 Rusch De Farges
1992 F Milford Quay
1996 7 All For Luck
1997 2 Challenger Du Luc
1999 5 Northern Starlight
2000 6 Exit Swinger
2000 7 Blowing Wind
2002 4 Cyfor Malta
2002 9 Exit Swinger
2003 5 It Takes Time
2004 UR Redemption
2004 F Our Vic

Nigel Twiston-Davies
1991 5 Tipping Tim
1992 3 Tipping Tim
1993 2 Young Hustler
1994 7 Tipping Tim
1998 P Queen Of Spades
2003 P Eskleybrook
2003 F Redemption

Paul Webber
No previous runners

Tony Dobbin
1998 F Addington Boy
2000 P Hill Society
2003 3 Telemoss
2004 6 Impek

Mick Fitzgerald
1996 P Big Matt
1997 5 Fine Thyne
1999 P Stormyfairweather
2004 7 Fondmort

Richard Johnson
1997 9 Kadi
1998 U Potter's Bay
2000 9 Samakaan
2002 7 Wave Rock
2003 BD Hand Inn Hand

Carl Llewellyn
1992 3 Tipping Tim
1993 2 Young Hustler
1998 P Queen of Spades
1999 6 Chief's Song
2000 3 Conor Macleod
2004 UR Redemption

Tony McCoy
1997 2 Challenger Du Luc
1999 5 Northern Starlight
2000 6 Exit Swinger
2002 4 Cyfor Malta
2003 5 It Takes Time

Timmy Murphy
2000 8 Soldat
2003 2 Risk Accessor
2004 F Our Vic

Robert Thornton
1997 7 Destin D'Estruval
2003 P Foly Pleasant
2004 F Massac

Joe Tizzard
1998 3 Mr Strong Gale
1999 3 Irbee

Christian Williams
2003 4 Royal Auclair
2004 4 Armaturk


The Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) was introduced at Cheltenham in December, 1963, three years after the successful Mackeson Gold Cup (now the Paddy Power Gold Cup) which is held the previous month.

For this year, the race will be run as the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup in remembrance of the former foreign secretary who died in August. The prestigious contest is backed by the tote, which wanted to secure a high-profile race that would be a fitting way to remember a great friend and passionate follower of racing.

Originally under the sponsorship of Massey Ferguson, the valuable and prestigious handicap chase had a number of sponsors before settling with the title, the Tripleprint Gold Cup, in 1992.

Last year it was called the bonusprint.com Gold Cup for the only time, though still under the sponsorship of George Ward’s Grunwick Group.

The Irish took the first three runnings, thanks to the efforts of Limeking, Flying Wild and Flyingbolt.

The Tom Dreaper-trained Flyingbolt was an exceptional horse. After winning the 1965 Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup by 15 lengths under top-weight of 12st 6lb, he went on to The Festival where he captured the 1966 two-mile Champion Chase and followed up by running third to Salmon Spray in the Champion Hurdle the next day.

Flyingbolt took the Irish Grand National the following month under the huge burden of 12st 7lb to earn comparisons to his illustrious stablemate, Arkle. Illness and injury thereafter, prevented the chestnut gelding from realising his full potential.

Bob Turnell had two successes as a trainer, the first with The Laird in 1966 when the jockey was Jeff King. The Laird went on to be second in the 1968 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

His second winner, Arctic Bow, was ridden by his son Andy Turnell and they easily beat Soloning by six lengths for owner Jim Joel.

Fulke Walwyn, one of the greatest-ever jump trainers, captured the 1968 running with Tassilo, while the admirable Titus Oates, trained by Gordon Richards and ridden by Ron Barry, defied 11st 13lb in 1969. Richards also trained Clever Folly (1989) and Addington Boy (1996).

Leap Frog was another Irish winner in 1971 off 12st 1lb, after earlier in that year running second to L’Escargot in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The late Fred Winter gained the first of his three Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup wins as a trainer courtesy of the great Pendil in 1973. His other training successes were with Observe in 1982 and Fifty Dollars More the following season.

Pendil won back-to-back King George VI Chases at Kempton Park in 1972 and 1973, and was just caught by The Dikler in the 1973 totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He is the only winner of the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup to have also won the other feature race at the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup Meeting, the totesport Bula Hurdle, which he did in 1970.

David Nicholson was responsible for sending out Another Coral to victory in the 1992 Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup. The nine-year-old received a marvellous ride from Richard Dunwoody to get the better of Second Schedual by five lengths.

Norman Williamson, who retired from the saddle in 2003, was in the plate on Go Roger Go, the most recent Irish-trained winner of the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup in a great finish in 2000.

Richard Johnson captured his second Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup last year when Monkerhostin capitalised on Our Vic’s last fence fall to stride home seven lengths clear of Thisthatandtother to give trainer Philip Hobbs his first success in the race.

Johnson’s previous Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup triumph came aboard Legal Right for trainer Jonjo O’Neill in 1999.

Mick Fitzgerald partnered the Nicky Henderson-trained Iris Royal to a head success over Risk Accessor in 2003 and the same partnership was successful in 2002 with Fondmort, who beat Foly Pleasant by six lengths.

Fondmort became only the seventh horse to win both the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup, albeit in different seasons, when he was given another magnificent ride by Fitzgerald to land the first-named contest in 2003 by eight lengths from Poliantas.

Senor El Betrutti (1997) and Pegwell Bay (1988) are the only two horses to have captured the Paddy Power Gold Cup and Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup in the same season.


* The Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup (sponsored by totesport) usually takes place over two miles and five furlongs on the New Course at Cheltenham. In 2003, because of the lack of rain over the summer and during the autumn, the handicap chase was run over two miles and four and a half furlongs on the Old Course at Cheltenham.

* There have been 36 runnings, the first in 1963. Frost intervened in 2001, 1995 and 1976, snow in 1990 and 1981, while the 1967 event was lost due to a foot and mouth epidemic.

* Limeking, trained in Ireland by Danny Morgan, won the inaugural running, defeating Flying Wild by two lengths.

* In all, there have been five Irish-trained winners of the bonusprint.com Gold Cup. The victories of Limeking (1963), Flying Wild (1964) and Flyingbolt (1965) ensured that the first three runnings all went to Ireland. However, no horse hailing from the Emerald Isle was successful between Leap Frog (1971) and Go Roger Go, victorious in 2000.

* Arkle, the greatest steeplechaser of all time and triumphant in the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times, suffered a rare reversal in the 1964 Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup. Anne Duchess of Westminster’s charge was saddled with the burden of 12st 10lb (which included a 3lb penalty for winning the Hennessy just seven days beforehand) and finished the staying-on third behind the useful Irish mare Flying Wild (receiving 32lb) and Buona Notte (receiving 26lb).

* The highest weight ever carried to victory in the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup was the 12st 7lb shouldered by Pendil in 1973. Other notable weight-carrying performances were Flyingbolt with 12st 6lb in 1965 and Leap Frog with 12st 1lb in 1971. Pendil is the only horse to have also won the other major race at the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup Meeting, the totesport Bula Hurdle, which he did in 1970.

* In addition to holding the weight-carrying record for the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup, Pendil also has the distinction of being the shortest-priced winner, being returned at 8/11.

* Nine favourites or joint-favourites have won the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup - Flyingbolt (1965, 5/2), Titus Oates (1969, 9/4), Leap Frog (1971, 3/1), Arctic Bow (1972, 9/2), Pendil (1973, 8/11), Fifty Dollars More (1983, 3/1), Oregon Trail (1986, 3/1), Kings Fountain (1991, 7/4) and Addington Boy (1996, 7/4).

* A fancied horse - if not the favourite - usually wins the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup. 29 victors have been returned at single-figure odds, including the last nine. There have not been any huge shocks in the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup, with the longest-priced victor being the 20/1 chance The Snipe (1978).

* Female trainers have saddled the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup winner three times - Auriol Sinclair with Simian (1970), Jenny Pitman with Bueche Giorod (1980) and, most recently, Sue Nock with Senor El Betrutti (1997).

* Gordon Richards and Fred Winter were the most successful trainers in the history of the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup with three winners each. Richards sent out Titus Oates (1969), Clever Folly (1989) and Addington Boy (1996) while Winter had Pendil (1973), Observe (1982) and Fifty Dollars More (1983).

* Among current trainers, Martin Pipe and Nicky Henderson are the winning-most with two Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup triumphs apiece - Pipe scored with Fragrant Dawn (1993) and Northern Starlight (1998), while Henderson has taken two renewals, courtesy of Fondmort (2002) and Iris Royal (2003).

*Richard Johnson became the third jockey to have ridden more than one Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup when partnering Monkerhostin last year, having been on board Legal Right in 1999. Mick Fitzgerald won on Iris Royal (2003) and Fondmort (2002), while Brendan Powell won on Pegwell Bay (1988) and Dublin Flyer (1994).

* Senor El Betrutti (1997) and Pegwell Bay (1988) are the only two horses to have landed the Paddy Power Gold Cup and Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup in the same season.

* Five other horses have won both very valuable handicap chases but in different years. Fondmort took the 2003 Paddy Power and the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup the previous season, while Dublin Flyer (PP 1995, RC 1994), Another Coral (PP 1991, RC 1992), Beau Ranger (PP 1987, RC 1984) and Fifty Dollars More (PP 1982, RC 1983) also achieved double glory.

* No horse has won the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup twice.

2004 Monkerhostin 7-10-02 Philip Hobbs Richard Johnson 4/1 13
2003 Iris Royal 7-10-13 Nicky Henderson Mick Fitzgerald 7/1 17
2002 Fondmort 6-10-05 Nicky Henderson Mick Fitzgerald 5/1 9
2001 Abandoned
2000 Go Roger Go 6-11-00 Edward O’Grady (IRE) Norman Williamson 7/1 12
1999 Legal Right 6-10-13 Jonjo O’Neill Richard Johnson 6/1 9
1998 Northern Starlight 7-10-01 Martin Pipe Tony McCoy 15/2 13
1997 Senor El Betrutti 8-11-03 Sue Nock Graham Bradley 9/1 9
1996 Addington Boy 8-11-10 Gordon Richards Tony Dobbin 7/4f 10
1995 Abandoned
1994 Dublin Flyer 8-10-02 Tim Forster Brendan Powell 100/30 11
1993 Fragrant Dawn 9-10-02 Martin Pipe Declan Murphy 14/1 11
1992 Another Coral 9-11-04 David Nicholson Richard Dunwoody 11/2 10
1991 Kings Fountain 8-11-10 Kim Bailey Anthony Tory 7/4f 8
1990 Abandoned
1989 Clever Folly 9-10-04 Gordon Richards Neale Doughty 4/1 6
1988 Pegwell Bay 7-10-13 Tim Forster Brendan Powell 7/2 10
1987 Bishops Yarn 8-10-07 Toby Balding Richard Guest 100/30 5
1986 Oregon Trail 6-10-07 Simon Christian Ronnie Beggan 3/1jf 6
1985 Combs Ditch 9-11-09 David Elsworth Colin Brown 13/2 7
1984 Beau Ranger 6-9-10 John Thorne John Hurst 8/1 10
1983 Fifty Dollars More 8-11-10 Fred Winter Richard Linley 3/1f 13
1982 Observe 6-10-11 Fred Winter John Francome 11/2 15
1981 Abandoned
1980 Bueche Giorod 9-10-00 Jenny Pitman Bryan Smart 14/1 15
1979 Father Delaney 7-10-10 Peter Easterby Alan Brown 12/1 12
1978 The Snipe 8-10-00 John Webber Anthony Webber 20/1 14
1977 Even Melody 8-11-02 Neville Crump Colin Hawkins 8/1 11
1976 Abandoned
1975 Easby Abbey 8-11-10 Peter Easterby Ron Barry 5/1 9
1974 Garnishee 10-10-06 Tom Jones David Mould 12/1 9
1973 Pendil 8-12-07 Fred Winter Richard Pitman 8/11f 8
1972 Arctic Bow 7-10-12 Bob Turnell Andy Turnell 9/2 jf 11
1971 Leap Frog 7-12-01 Tom Dreaper (IRE) Val O’Brien 3/1f 12
1970 Simian 8-11-08 Auriol Sinclair David Moore 4/1 7
1969 Titus Oates 7-11-13 Gordon Richards Ron Barry 9/4f 11
1968 Tassilo 10-10-01 Fulke Walwyn Aly Branford 8/1 14
1967 Abandoned
1966 The Laird 5-10-09 Bob Turnell Jeff King 13/2 8
1965 Flyingbolt 6-12-06 Tom Dreaper (IRE) Pat Taaffe 5/2f 11
1964 Flying Wild 8-10-06 Dan Moore (IRE) Tommy Carberry 100/8 7
1963 Limeking 6-10-12 Danny Morgan (IRE) Toss Taaffe 100/9 14


Year Horse Trainer Position
1990 Meeting abandoned
1991 Toranfield Fran Lennon 4th
1992 Second Schedual Arthur Moore 2nd
1993 No Irish runners
1994 Nuaffe Pat Fahy 2nd
1995 Meeting abandoned
1996 Royal Mountbrowne Aidan O’Brien 5th
Anabatic Michael O’Brien 6th
Belvederian Mouse Morris U
1997 No Irish runners
1998 No Irish runners
1999 No Irish runners
Hill Society Noel Meade P
Lyreen Wonder Arthur Moore F
2001 Meeting Abandoned
2002 Youlneverwalkalone Christy Roche 3rd
Killultagh Storm Willie Mullins 8th
2003 Risk Accessor Christy Roche 2nd
Kadoun Michael O’Brien 8th
Adamant Approach Willie Mullins 11th
2004 Mossy Green Willie Mullins P


The totesport Bula Hurdle was run as the Cheltenham Trial Hurdle until 1977 when the name was changed to reflect Bula’s victories at Cheltenham. It has alway been one of the leading examinations for the Smurfit Champion Hurdle which is staged in March at The Festival.

Scottish Memories won the initial running in 1963 while the following two renewals went to winners of the Champion Hurdle, Magic Court and Salmon Spray.

Fulke Walwyn saddled the Willie Robinson-ridden Sempervivum to take the 1966 event and, earlier that year, the eight-year-old had finished the runner-up to Salmon Spray in the Champion Hurdle.

Pendil was another high-class performer to win the Bula Hurdle. He was successful in 1970 for trainer Fred Winter and went to even greater heights over fences, capturing the feature chase at this meeting, the Robin Cook Memorial Gold Cup, three years later.

Bula, the racehorse after whom this prestigious event is named, was another success for Winter, prevailing in 1972 by one and a half lengths from the Peter Bailey-trained Canasta Lad, who had himself won the 1971 contest. The great Bula, who was ridden by Paul Kelleway, won the Champion Hurdle in 1971 and 1972.

Bula’s owner Captain Bill Edwards-Heathcote has maintained his Cheltenham links, having experienced success with Village King in the 2002 Golden Miller Handicap Chase.

Fred Rimell trained Comedy Of Errors to win the Bula Hurdle two years running in 1973 and 1974. Comedy Of Errors was also a dual Champion Hurdle winner (1973 and 1975). Bill Smith rode Comedy Of Errors to three of those four successes.

The great hurdler Bird’s Nest was the first horse to win the Bula Hurdle three times, being successful in 1977, 1978 and 1980.

Bob Turnell saddled Bird’s Nest to the first two of his successes, with son Andy in the saddle. Andy Turnell went on to complete the three-timer in the saddle and was also the trainer in 1980, following his father’s death.

“Bird’s Nest was a very good horse around Cheltenham but his joints weren’t the best and I don’t think that he was ever at his best for the Champion Hurdle (he finished the runner-up to Night Nurse in 1976, fifth to the same horse the following year, seventh to Monksfield in 1978, fifth to Monksfield again in 1979 and third to Sea Pigeon in 1980),” commented Andy Turnell.

“The Bula Hurdle came earlier in the season and, if he had reproduced that form at Cheltenham in March, I think he would have won a Champion Hurdle.”

The other three-time winner was Relkeel, who gained successive victories in the totesport Bula Hurdle in 1997 and 1998 for trainer David Nicholson. The Relkino gelding went on to complete his hat-trick in 1999, when under the care of Nicholson’s former assistant Alan King, and now has a race named after him on the Saturday of this December meeting.

Adrian Maguire announced his retirement at the end of October in 2002, when a neck injury was deemed too dangerous for him to continue riding.

Maguire had two successes in the totesport Bula Hurdle. The first came on the Mark Tompkins-trained Halkopous in 1992 and, six years later, he followed up when partnering Relkeel to the second leg of that horse’s magnificent hat-trick.

The Nicky Henderson-trained Geos won the totesport Bula Hurdle in 2000, when beating Barton by six lengths, and was subsequently successful in Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle later in the same month and finished fourth to Hors La Loi III in the 2002 Smurfit Champion Hurdle at Prestbury Park.

Geos filled the same position in the 2003 Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham’s National Hunt Festival, having three months earlier finished a creditable two-length third to the Philip Hobbs-trained Rooster Booster in the totesport Bula Hurdle.

Rooster Booster also lined-up at the 2003 Festival, and took the hurdling crown, the Smurfit Champion Hurdle. His jockey, Richard Johnson, is the most successful current rider in the totesport Bula Hurdle, while Jamie Osborne and Andy Turnell, now trainers, have also had three victories in the race.

Rooster Booster returned to Prestbury Park for last two renewals of the totesport Bula Hurdle, running a close fifth behind the Paul Nicholls-trained Rigmarole in 2003 and fourth to Back In Front last year.

Edward O’Grady’s Back In Front - the second Irish-trained winner of the race after the Jim Bolger-trained Condor Pan in 1988 - was a four-length winner, under Davy Russell, from subsequent Ladbrokes World Hurdle and Order Of Merit winner Inglis Drever.


* The totesport Bula Hurdle was first run in 1963 when Scottish Memories was successful.

* Up until 1977, it was run as the Cheltenham Trial Hurdle. It was renamed in 1977 to reflect Bula’s successes at Cheltenham, including the Champion Hurdle in 1971 and 1972. He also won a division of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 1970 and finished third in the 1975 Cheltenham Gold Cup

* Bula won the race subsequently named in his honour in 1972, the same year as his second Champion Hurdle victory.

* Six horses in total have won both the Bula Hurdle and the Smurfit Champion Hurdle:

Magic Court 1964 1964
Salmon Spray 1965 1966
Bula 1972 1972
Comedy Of Errors 1973, 1974 1973, 1975
Sea Pigeon 1975 1980, 1981
Rooster Booster 2002 2003

* Salmon Spray, Comedy Of Errors (1974 success) and Rooster Booster are the three horses to win the two contests in the same season.

* The shortest-priced winner was Comedy Of Errors (1973) at 2/5.

* Solway Sands (1968) provided the biggest shock in the history of the contest when winning at 33/1 in 1968.

* Overall, favourites have a fair record with 15 wins in 37 runnings (just over 40%).

* The totesport Bula Hurdle is a good race for multiple winners, with Comedy Of Errors (1973, 1974) and Large Action (1994 and 1996) both winning the race twice.

* In addition, Bird’s Nest (1977, 1978, 1980) and Relkeel (1997, 1998 and 1999) were both triumphant three times.

* Bob Turnell was the most successful trainer in the race’s history. In addition to winning three times with Bird’s Nest (1977, 1978, 1980), he also saddled Salmon Spray (1965).

* Among current trainers, nobody has managed to win the race more than twice, with Martin Pipe, Oliver Sherwood, Mark Tompkins and Roger Fisher all having achieved this feat.

* Andy Turnell, Jamie Osborne and Richard Johnson are the winning-most jockeys, each recording three victories.

* totesport supported the Bula Hurdle for the first time in 2003.


2004 Back In Front 7-11-08 Edward O’Grady IRE Davy Russell 5/2f 7
2003 Rigmarole 5-11-04 Paul Nicholls Robert Thornton 25/1 7
2002 Rooster Booster 8-11-04 Philip Hobbs Richard Johnson 11/8f 9
2001* Valiramix 5-11-04 Martin Pipe Tony McCoy 1/2f 4
2000 Geos 5-11-04 Nicky Henderson Mick Fitzgerald 14/1 8
1999 Relkeel 10-11-08 Alan King Richard Johnson 13/2 7
1998 Relkeel 9-11-08 David Nicholson Adrian Maguire 8/1 5
1997 Relkeel 8-11-00 David Nicholson Richard Johnson 8/1 8
1996 Large Action 8-11-08 Oliver Sherwood Jamie Osborne 5/4f 7
1995 Abandoned
1994 Large Action 6-11-04 Oliver Sherwood Jamie Osborne 8/11f 8
1993 Staunch Friend 5-11-08 Mark Tompkins Declan Murphy 6/1 7
1992 Halkopous 6-11-02 Mark Tompkins Adrian Maguire 8/1 6
1991 Royal Derbi 6-11-08 Neville Callaghan Declan Murphy 9/2 5
1990 Abandoned
1989 Cruising Altitude 6-11-04 Oliver Sherwood Jamie Osborne 8/11f 8
1988 Condor Pan 5-11-02 Jim Bolger IRE Charlie Swan 12/1 8
1987 Pat’s Jester 4-11-02 Dick Allan Peter Niven 11/2 8
1986 Floyd 6-11-02 David Elsworth Colin Brown 7/2 8
1985 Corporal Clinger 6-11-02 Martin Pipe Paul Leach 20/1 9
1984 Browne’s Gazette 6-11-04 Monica Dickinson Mr Ronnie Beggan 7/2 5
1983 Amarach 5-11-06 Roger Fisher Jimmy Duggan 7/2jf 9
1982 Ekbalco 6-11-10 Roger Fisher Jonjo O’Neill 2/1jf 5
1981 Abandoned
1980 Bird’s Nest 10-11-06 Bob Turnell Andy Turnell 5/2f 7
1979 Celtic Ryde 4-11-03 Peter Cundell Martin O’Halloran 11/4 5
1978 Bird’s Nest 8-11-06 Bob Turnell Andy Turnell evensf 5
1977 Bird’s Nest 7-11-06 Bob Turnell Andy Turnell 11/4 10
1976 Abandoned
1975 Sea Pigeon 5-11-02 Gordon Richards Jonjo O’Neill 5/1 7
1974 Comedy Of Errors 7-11-10 Fred Rimell Ken White 6/4 4
1973 Comedy Of Errors 6-11-12 Fred Rimell Bill Smith 2/5f 5
1972 Bula 7-11-12 Fred Winter Paul Kelleway 8/13f 8
1971 Canasta Lad 5-11-08 Peter Bailey Jeff King 5/1 8
1970 Pendil 5-11-08 Fred Winter Paul Kelleway 7/2 6
1969 Celtic Gold 7-12-01 Arthur Stephenson Stan Murphy 9/2 7
1968 Solway Sands 4-11-06 J McMurchie Brian Fletcher 33/1 7
1967 Abandoned
1966 Sempervivum 8-11-11 Fulke Walwyn Willie Robinson 8/11f 4
1965 Salmon Spray 7-12-01 Bob Turnell Johnny Haine 3/1 5
1964 Magic Court 6-12-01 Tommy Robson Pat McCarron 4/7f 6
1963 Scottish Memories 9-11-11 A Thomas C Finnegan 6/4f 7

* run at Newbury

For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive

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