How many Cheltenham Festival winners has Alan King trained?

How many Cheltenham Festival winners has Alan King trained?  Assistant to twice champion trainer David Nicholson until his retirement in 1999, Alan King moved to his current base at Barbury Castle Stables in Wroughton, near Swindon, Wiltshire in 2000. Since then, he has sent out a total of 15 Cheltenham Festival winners, although the most recent of them was Uxizandre – who was, coincidentally, Tony McCoy’s last Festival winner – in the Ryanair Chase in 2015.

Of the four main ‘championship’ races at the Festival, King has won the Stayers’ Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and Champion Hurdle once apiece, with My Way De Solzen (2006), Voy Por Ustedes (2007) and Katchit (2008) respectively. Indeed, all three of those horses were, or became, multiple Cheltenham Festival winners; Voy Por Ustedes had won the Arkle Challenge Trophy in 2006, Katchit had won the Triumph Hurdle in 2007 and My Way De Solzen went on to win the Arkle Challenge Trophy, again, in 2007.

Katchit was particularly notable, insofar as his victory in the Champion Hurdle was the first by a Triumph Hurdle winner since Kribensis in 1990 and the first by a five-year-old since See You Then in 1985. In 2013, in what is often one of the most competitive races of the entire Cheltenham Festival, the Coral Cup, King achieved a notable training feat by saddling the 33/1 winner, Medina, and the 14/1 second, Meister Eckhart.

Who was Charlie Hall?

Who was Charlie Hall?  To modern horse racing fans, the name ‘Charlie Hall’ is best known from the title of the Charlie Hall Chase, a Grade 2 steeplechase run over 3 miles at Wetherby in late October or early November. Inaugurated, as the Wetherby Pattern Chase, in 1969, the race was renamed to the Charlie Hall Memorial Wetherby Pattern Chase in 1978 and renamed, again, to the present title in 1990.

The titular William ‘Charlie’ Hall, who died in 1977, was a successful trainer based in Towton, near Tadcaster, North Yorkshire. Towton is just 20 minutes’ drive from Wetherby Racecourse, where Hall saddled 169 winners during his career and is commemorated by what has become the traditional curtain-raiser for the National Hunt season.

Born in 1903, Charlie Hall was the elder brother of Sam Hall, who became a legendary trainer of handicappers on Flat, winning the November Handicap five times, the Ebor Handicap three times and the Lincoln Handicap and Wokingham Handicap twice apiece. Charlie Hall began his own training career shortly after the end of World War II and at the time of his retirement, in 1975, had saddled 584 winners under National Hunt Rules and a further 100 winners on the Flat. At that stage, he was succeeded by his stepson, Maurice Camacho. Hall was Champion National Hunt Trainer just once, in 1955/56, famously saddling Doorknocker, owned by Clifford Nicholson and ridden by Harry Sprague, to victory in the Champion Hurdle at the 1956 Cheltenham Festival.

Which trainer was known as the ‘Sprint King’?

Which trainer was known as the 'Sprint King'?  The trainer known as the ‘Sprint King’ was the late David ‘Dandy’ Nicholls, who died in June, 2017, aged 61. Formerly a successful Flat jockey, with 421 winners to his name, Nicholls turned his hand to training in 1993. Based at Tall Trees Stables in Sessay, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, Nicholls sent out a total of 1,269 winners, but will always be best remembered for his handling of sprinters.

At the highest, Group 1 level, Nicholls won the Nunthorpe Stakes twice, with Ya Malak in 1997 and Bahamian Pirate in 2004, the July Cup with Continent in 2002 and the Haydock Sprint Cup with Regal Parade in 2009. Like someone on a winning run on real money casino games, the man could seemingly do no wrong.  He also enjoyed success on the other side of the English Channel, winning the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp with Continent in 2002 and the Prix Maurice de Gheest with Regal Parade in 2010.

Nevertheless, it was in traditional ‘heritage’ handicaps that Nicholls really came into his own. Like a real money online roulette pro, it all fell right for him. He won the Ayr Gold Cup six times, with Bahamian Pirate in 2000, Continent in 2001, Funfair Wane in 2002 and 2004, Regal Parade in 2008 and Redford in 2010, the Epsom Dash five times, with Ya Malak in 1997, Rudi’s Pet in 2002, Atlantic Viking in 2003, Fire Up The Band in 2005 and Indian Trail in 2009 and the Stewards’ Cup three times, with Tayseer in 2000, Gift Horse in 2005 and Evens And Odds in 2010.

Summing up Nicholls’ career, his son, Adrian, said ‘Somebody may end up with a better record with sprinters one day but, to me, there will only ever be one ‘Sprint King’…’

Where, and when, did the Queen have her first winner as an owner?

Where, and when, did the Queen have her first winner as an owner?  Queen Elizabeth II was a fan of horse racing from a young age and her love affair with the sport has endured throughout her reign. In fact, Her Majesty was one of the most famous, and well informed, owner-breeders in the country and reportedly read the ‘Racing Post’ over breakfast every morning.

Down the years, the Queen had been fortunate to own several notable performers, including Carrozza, who won the Oaks in 1957, Pall Mall, who won the 2,000 Guineas in 1958, and Highclere, who won the 1,000 Guineas in 1974, to name but three. Indeed, twice during her reign, in 1954 and 1957, she won the British Flat Owners’ Championship.

However, the first racehorse the Queen, or rather Princess Elizabeth, as she was at the time, owned was a steeplechaser and she did so jointly with her mother, the Queen consort. Princess Elizabeth’s interest in National Hunt racing was apparently piqued by popular amateur rider Anthony Bingham Mildmay, second Lord Mildmay of Flete, who stayed at Windsor Castle during Royal Ascot in 1949.

In any event, trainer Peter Cazalet found and acquired an eight-year-old Irish-bred gelding called Monaveen, who had run in the 1949 Grand National, on behalf of his Royal patrons. Monaveen made his debut for his new connections on October 10, 1949 in the Chichester Handicap Chase at Fontwell Park where, ridden by stable jockey Tony Grantham, he beat two opponents with plenty in hand.


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