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Thursday, February 13, 2014
This Saturday (February 15) sees Wincanton stage the final Champion Hurdle prep race – the prestigious Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle - which is on the agenda for a number of elite hurdlers, writes Hannay Walker.
The last thirty years have seen the two mile contest won by three greys -Desert Orchid: 1984, Kribrnsis: 1990 and Grey Shot: 1999. Five chestnut horses Hypnosis: 1987, Floyd: 1988 & 1989, Dreams End: 1997, Briareus: trained by Andrew Balding in 2006 and Straw Bear: 2005. Bay horses have dominated the contest with 17 victories since 1987. The mighty Alderbrook ridden by ‘storming Norman’ Williamson who successfully won the Kingwell Hurdle and subsequent Champion Hurdle in 1995; to be copied by Hors La Loi III in 2000 ridden by Dean Gallagher. Four abandonments in 1985 – 86, 1996 and 2010 plus the anticipated 2014 renewal complete the period.
Two father and son combinations have been successful in the Kingwell Hurdle. Martin Pipe trained Valfinet to win consecutively in 1993 and 1994, with son David securing his own achievement in 2009 with Ashkazar. Ian and Andrew Balding both trained a Kingwell winner with Grey Shot in 1999 and Briareus in 2006, the latter ridden by the only winning amateur jockey in race history, Mr Tom Greenall.
The most success Kingwell Hurdle trainer is David Elsworth with four consecutive wins with three horses – Desert Orchid in 1984, Hypnosis 1987 and Floyd in 1988 and 1989. Paul Nicholls remains the race’s most successful current licensed trainer with three wins. His first was recorded in 2001 with Azertyuiop ridden by the acclaimed Adrian Maguire, Rigmarole in 2004 with Ruby Walsh provided the second notch and last year’s winner Zarkandar completed the hat-trick, ridden by Daryl Jacob.
Within the thirty year period, Richard Dunwoody remains the most winning jockey of the Kingwell Hurdle with five wins between 1989 and 1998 riding Floyd, Kribensis trained by Sir Michael Stoute, Valfinet, Dreams End and I’m Supposin. Peter Scudamore achieved four gallant wins and the last decade has seen Champion Jockey, AP McCoy, secure three wins - his first victory some nine years ago (2005) on Inglis Drever, who went on to win three World Hurdles. McCoy’s remaining tallies were in 2007 and 2012 for owner JP McManus on board Straw Bear and the Champion Hurdler Binocular.
The only question remains – who will join the 2014 Wincanton Wall of Fame?
Advance tickets to watch live Somerset’s finest hurdle race are available from £14 offering a £2 discount and a £10 voucher towards a Cheltenham Festival Champion Hurdle Raceday admission ticket. Visit wincantonracecourse.co.uk or book now on 0844 5793014. Children aged 17 and under race free when accompanied by an adult. Channel 4 Racing will broadcast the Grade 2 contact (3:35pm) within their Saturday broadcast.
Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle Raceday on Saturday gets under way at 11:30am with the first race at 1:55pm.