Who was Fred Winter?
The late Fred Winter dominated the world of National Hunt racing between the early Fifties and the early Eighties, first as a jockey and afterwards as a trainer. He is rightly remembered as one of the greats of the sport and is commemorated by the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle, run annually at the Cheltenham Festival.
Winter was champion jockey four times, including three in a row between 1955 and 1957, and champion trainer eight times, including five in a row between 1971 and 1975. Indeed, he remains the only person to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Grand National and Champion Hurdle as a jockey and as a trainer.
At the time of his retirement from the saddle in April, 1964, Winter had ridden a then-record 932 winners. He began training at Uplands Stables in Lambourn, Berkshire with just five horses and, by his own admission, ‘no idea’ about his training ability. Nevertheless, he won the Grand National with Jay Trump in his first season as a trainer and again, with Anglo, in his second. Winter had to wait a little longer for his one and only Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Midnight Court, in 1978, but by that time had already won the Champion Hurdle three times, with Bula in 1971 and 1972 and Lanzarote in 1974.
Sadly, in August, 1987, Winter suffered a stroke, which left him wheelchair-bound and unable to speak or write. He was forced to cede his licence to Charlie Brooks, but had saddled 1,557 winners, imcluding 28 at the Cheltenham Festival.