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Thursday, February 16, 2012

HENDERSON JUST ONE WINNER SHY OF WALWYN’S ALL-TIME RECORD AT THE FESTIVAL

Trainer Nicky Henderson saddled two winners at The Festival in 2011, including a first Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup with Long Run, taking his overall record at the meeting to 39 winners. This means he is now just one winner shy of the all-time record of 40 Festival winners, achieved by the late Fulke Walwyn between 1946 and 1986. With a powerful team to look forward to again in 2012, there must be every chance that the master of Seven Barrows can re-write the history books.

Reigning champion trainer Paul Nicholls has been leading trainer at The Festival six times and is now fourth on the all-time list with 30 successes, despite only saddling his first winner at the meeting in 1999.

Ireland’s most successful current trainer at The Festival is now Willie Mullins, who has 21 winners to his name. Mullins landed the Thomas Pink Leading Trainer Award for the first time in 2011 when his four victories included Hurricane Fly in the Stan James Champion Hurdle.

THE MOST SUCCESSFUL TRAINERS OF ALL-TIME AT THE FESTIVAL


40 Fulke Walwyn (Winners from 1946-86)

39 Nicky Henderson (1985- )

34 Martin Pipe (1981-2006)

30 Paul Nicholls (1999- )

28 Fred Winter (1970-88)

26 Tom Dreaper IRE (1946-71)

25 Fred Rimell (1948-81)

23 Vincent O’Brien IRE (1948-59)

23 Bob Turnell (1956-80)

22 Ivor Anthony (1930-52)­

21 Willie Mullins IRE (1995- )

19 George Beeby (1930-59)

18 Edward O’Grady IRE (1974- )

18 Jonjo O’Neill (1991- )

17 David Nicholson (1986-99)

15 Harry Brown (1920-38)

15 Tom Coulthwaite (1911-36)

15 Philip Hobbs (1990- )

15 Tom Rimell (1927-49)

14 Dan Moore IRE (1953-79)

13 Jack Anthony (1929-50)

13 Tim Forster (1963-98)

13 Peter Easterby (1967-86)

13 Nigel Twiston-Davies (1992- )

12 John Edwards (1969-94)

12 Tom Jones (1965-78)

12 Alan King (2004- )


(Current trainers in bold) (NB Trainers of some of the earliest winners were not recorded)

THE MOST SUCCESSFUL CURRENT TRAINERS AT THE FESTIVAL


39 Nicky Henderson

30 Paul Nicholls

21 Willie Mullins IRE

18 Edward O'Grady IRE

18 Jonjo O’Neill

15 Philip Hobbs

13 Nigel Twiston-Davies

12 Alan King

10 Ferdy Murphy

9 David Elsworth

8 Arthur Moore IRE

7 Jessica Harrington IRE

7 Henrietta Knight

7 Mouse Morris IRE

7 David Pipe

6 Francois Doumen FR

6 Oliver Sherwood

5 Enda Bolger IRE

5 Dessie Hughes IRE

5 Aidan O’Brien IRE

5 Venetia Williams

LEE CHASING FURTHER FESTIVAL SUCCESS

Richard Lee has twice tasted Cheltenham Festival success in his accomplished training career with victories in the 1993 Grand Annual Handicap Chase and the 1998 renewal of what is now the Byrne Group Plate courtesy of Space Fair and Super Coin respectively.

“A winner at Cheltenham is as good as it gets - it’s what you dream of,” Lee said. “It’s fantastic, a Cheltenham winner is a Cheltenham winner and you have to make the most of it because they don’t come along all that often.

“Space Fair and Super Coin were class horses. Even so, you can never be confident going into any race at Cheltenham because the racing is so competitive but you can go there hoping.

“When Super Coin won the Byrne Group Plate there was a stewards’ enquiry because we had tightened up the eventual third. Obviously, they couldn’t give that horse the race as he finished third, but it was a nerve-racking quarter of an hour I can tell you.”

This year the handler, who is based at Byton in Herefordshire close to the Welsh border, will be sending a small but select team to Jump racing’s premier meeting including his exciting novice hurdler Knock A Hand. The seven-year-old maintained his unbeaten record over hurdles with a stylish front-running display at Haydock under a double-penalty on December 30, and is declared to run in a handicap hurdle at Newbury on February 17.

Lee continued: “I don’t know if Knock A Hand will go to Cheltenham, but I will know a lot more after this weekend. He is in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, but could also go for the Coral Cup. Although he has won on soft ground, he also won two point-to-points on good ground, so Cheltenham is certainly on the agenda.

“However, whatever he does this year is a complete bonus as he is a chaser in the making. You can dream of it, but I’d like to think he’d be an RSA Chase horse next year. I think he’s a bit special and although he is not flashy, he does everything so easily and is a real workman.”

Hector’s Choice, who has been allotted 10st 11lb in the John Smith’s Grand National, could be another representative for Lee at The Festival.

The trainer said: “We need to try and get Hector’s Choice qualified for the Grand National. He could go for the Byrne Group Plate, or the JLT Speciality Chase - every time this season he has been staying on strongly so you would think the step up to three miles would suit.”

Lee concluded: “We have also got Highway Code for the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle. I expect him to run very well, he’s a smashing little horse.”

The former farrier took out a full training licence in 1986 having been hugely successful in the point-to-point sphere and enjoyed one of the biggest successes of his career this season, when Charlie Poste rode Le Beau Bai to victory in the Coral Welsh National.


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