Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
The Fred Winter Juvenile Novices Handicap Hurdle (4:40pm) is a listed race run over two miles and about half a furlong, and is open to four year old novices only.
The total prize fund in 2015 is £75,000 and the race will be run on Wednesday, March 11.
The race is named after one of the legends of the sport. Fred Winter was a great, and arguably the greatest, jump jockey. He then became a great, and very nearly the greatest, trainer of steeplechasers and hurdlers, one of the few to make an indelible mark in both spheres.
His exploits were heroic in fact and in their ability to inspire others. Yet his natural modesty and kindness remained with him all his life.
The facts are that in his career in the saddle, from 1947-64, he was champion jockey four times, and won all the big races, including Grand National's on Sundew and Kilmore, Cheltenham Gold Cups on Saffron Tartan and Mandarin, Champion Hurdles on Clair Soleil, Fare Time and Eborneezer and King George VI Chases on Halloween and Saffron Tartan.
As a trainer, he took eight titles between 1971 and 1985 and the Grand National in each of his first two seasons, with Jay Trump and Anglo. He also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Midnight Court, Champion Hurdles with Bula, Lanzarote and Celtic Shot, and a Champion Chase with Crisp. But his best was Pendil, the dual King George VI Chase winner.
In the inaugural running of this race in 2005, Nina Carberry, on Dabiroun, become the first female jockey to win a race at the Festival since Gee Armitage on Gee-A in 1987. Nina’s victory was all the more noteworthy as it came just hours after her brother Paul had been jeered by punters after his exaggerating waiting tactics had cost Harchibald the Champion Hurdle.
2014 Hawk High
2013 Flaxen Flare
2012 Une Artiste
2011 What A Charm
2009 Silk Affair
2008 Crack Away Jack
2012 Fred Winter Novices Handicap Review
There was plenty of market confidence prior to the race behind the Alan King-trained Vendor, who was sent off 3/1 favourite. However, his backers got their fingers burnt with the race going to the unconsidered 40/1 shot UNE ARTISTE.
In hindsight, that was a big price for the Nicky Henderson-trained winner with the stable carrying all before them at the meeting (seven winners by the end of it!). There appeared to be no fluke about the victory either as he ran out a clear-cut winner and followed up at the meeting here in April.
The Tony Martin-trained Edeyemi did best of the remainder, finishing a length and three quarters behind the winner, with the well-punted favourite Vendor a further half a length away in third. Kazlian, who had gone clear three out before tiring, rewarded his each-way backers in fourth.
2011 Fred Winter Novices Handicap Review
Arthur Moore's What A Charm landed the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham after a great battle up the hill with the hugely talented Kumbeshwar.
Alan King looked to have a great chance jumping the last as his Dhaafer appeared to be tanking with stablemate Kumbeshwar, but the pair had to settle for second and third behind What A Charm.
The 9-1 chance found plenty for pressure late on under Paul Townend to prevail by a neck, with Kumbeshwar (33-1) second and Dhaafer (16-1) third. Meanwhile Gordon Elliott's bid for a second day treble was foiled but his Plan A (4-1 favourite) ran a good race in fourth.
2010 Fred Winter Novices Handicap Review
A handicap hurdle that looked almost impossible to solve on paper was turned into a rout by SANCTUAIRE, representing the deadly combination of Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh.
Always travelling well, the winner made stealthy progress to track the leaders between the third and second last flights before quickening away from the huge field for a comfortable success. The end to end gallop clearly suited him, as did the fact that his jockey could give him plenty of cover in amongst his rivals. He has the size and scope to jump fences in time.
Memorable though this victory was in its own right, it will always have a special place in the history books as it gave Walsh a record 26th Festival win, one more than the legendary Pat Taaffe managed.
Remarkably, the first and second favourites also filled those places at the finish as Notus De La Tour was the one to chase the winner home. He was never nearer than at the death so softer ground and / or a long trip might bring about further improvement.
Orsippus has been busy throughout the season and so you would have expected the handicapper to have his measure by now, but he is clearly still improving and is also very game. He obviously thrives on racing.
Son Amix is another whod have liked softer ground and so did well to finish fourth. He simply didnt have the speed to match the three horses that finished in front of him.
Stormy Weather finished best of all and will be worth following when stepped up in trip. He was very decent on the Flat and so still looks well handicapped over hurdles.
Kudu Country travelled well for a long way and did best of all of those that raced up with the pace.
Of the rest, Shanrod is worth noting as he was given plenty to do. He's another that will be suited by further and more give underfoot.
2009 Fred Winter Novices Handicap Review
A tough one for punters as an 11/1 shot, a 20/1 shot and another 20/1 shot filled the first three places, on top of which the well backed favourite could only finish fourth.
The race was won by the filly SILK AFFAIR who, having been successful over 2m 4f in the past, was clearly suited by the strong gallop here. She was being niggled along after the second last, but her stamina came into play climbing the hill and having led soon after the last she ran on strongly for a decisive win. The David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle will surely be her Festival target next season.
Ski Sunday also finished well to claim second. He’d had a fair bit of experience over hurdles heading into this race, something that clearly stood him in good stead here.
Saticon was a never nearer third. He likes genuinely decent ground and clearly relished the strong gallop here, so could return for one of the big handicaps next season.
The eye catcher of the race was Alexander Severus. The well backed favourite travelled ominously well throughout and looked all over the winner turning in. However, he found little on the run to the line and faded into fourth. He looks quirky, as well as talented, and probably needs to be held up for longer.
Tobago Bay made the running as usual and was only headed on the home turn, sticking on for a respectable seventh on this handicap debut. His trainer, Sheena West, is proving to be one to follow, especially with these young hurdlers.
Top weight, Mr Thriller was also well there for much of the race. His exertions in the Imperial Cup four days ago may have taken their toll, so this was a good effort.
2008 Fred Winter Novices Handicap Review
The standard of this race continues to rise and it is quickly establishing itself as a worthy addition to the Festival programme.
Betting for the race was dominated by two runners, Ashkazar and River Laine, but whilst the former ran a cracking race under top weight to finish second, the latter was a big disappointment, never being able to get back into the contest after a bad mistake mid-race.
Ashkazar was trying to emulate his stablemate, Gaspara, in completing the bonus double of the Imperial Cup and this race and he looked like repeating that performance as he cruised ahead at the top of the hill. However, turning for home it quickly became clear that the winner, CRACK AWAY JACK, was travelling even better for Paul Carberry and the Emma Lavelle trained four year old showed a fine turn of foot to put the race to bed after the last.
The field was well strung out in behind thanks in part to the furious pace set by Hypnotic Vibes and the free-running Western Point.
Grand Schlem was third, to give the form a solid look, whilst Indian Spring responded well to the first time blinkers to take fourth.
Metaphoric (fifth) was the pick of these on the Flat and ran well enough here to suggest he could be a major force over further next season.
2007 Fred Winter Novices Handicap Review
Another well backed winner as GASPARA followed up a win in the Sunderlands Imperial Cup at Sandown three days earlier, with an emphatic victory in this competitive handicap, landing a £75,000 bonus for her owner in the process.
This was a real family affair as the mare provided David Pipe with his first Festival winner in his first season as a trainer. And it was David’s father Martin who was lucky enough to pocket that bonus.
Punters and connections alike had little to worry about throughout the race, as things went to plan right from the off and Gaspara was given an excellent, positive ride by young claimer, Andrew Glastonbury.
She was sent to the front shortly after jumping the first of eight flights and was never headed. The key move came as the field ran down the hill towards the third last as her jockey kicked for home and put at least 6 lengths between her and the rest of the field. Nothing could get near her after that. The time of the race was good and everything about the winner’s performance suggested this was an excellent effort from a clearly very well handicapped horse.
Altilhar pipped the winner’s stablemate, Laustra Bad for second in the dying strides. He was decent on the Flat and the drying ground seemed to bring about some improvement here. He was staying on as well as anything at the death. Laustra Bad, meanwhile, ran well off what looked like a stiffish handicap mark.
Zilcash, who finished fourth, has been running well all season without getting his head in front. He would be interesting next season if connections decide to maintain his novice status until then. The only negative would have to be that there is always a worry about the appetite of a horse who has finished second in four races on the trot as Zilcash did earlier in the season.
Jaro and Pouvoir are two to note from the stragglers as both travelled well during the race and ran better than their respective finishing positions suggest.
2006 Fred Winter Novices Handicap Review
Some significant early morning gambles were foiled in spectacular fashion as outsiders filled three of the first four places in this contest for four year old hurdlers.
The race is only in its second year, having been introduced when the Festival was expanded to four days in 2005. However, owners and trainers already seem to have cottoned on to the idea of re-routing seemingly well handicapped juveniles to this race in the hope of pulling off a betting coup, rather than aiming them at the more prestigious Triumph Hurdle.
Not surprisingly, the best backed horse was the JP McManus owned Ouste, but as with other well fancied runners Royals Darling and Rosecliff, those who’d joined in the gamble soon knew their fate and all three horses were eventually tailed off or pulled up.
By contrast, SHAMAYOUN, the eventual winner, was always up with pace and took up the running at the fifth. He was clear three out, and stayed on well on the run in to repel the late thrusts of Artist’s Muse and Patman Du Charmil.
Front running tactics and blinkers appear to have rejuvenated the winner after some lacklustre early efforts over hurdles. The time of the race compared favourably with the Supreme Novices Hurdle and so the winner could prove useful, provided he is able to maintain his form. His victory gave jockey Paddy Brennan a first taste of success at the Festival and ended a nine year wait for trainer Charlie Egerton’s second winner.
Artist’s Muse clearly proved to be well handicapped off his low weight and would have been even closer to the winner had he not jumped the last poorly and lost momentum.
Patman Du Charmil finished best of all and may need softer ground. Despite this excellent effort, he may prove hard to win with given his style of racing. However, he may do better over fences in time, a comment that also applies to the fourth, Gardasee.