Tuesday 22 February 2022



The winner of just one of is 14 starts for Mick Channon, and two more for Alan King, on the Flat as a two- and three-year-old, Katchit proved something of a revelation when sent over hurdles at the start of the 2006/07 National Hunt season. Ridden by Robert 'Chocolate' Thornton, as he was in all bar two of his 24 hurdles starts, Katchit opened his account at the first time of asking, winning a juvenile novices' hurdle at Market Rasen by 9 lengths eased down. Indeed, over the next two seasons, he would win ten of his 13 starts, including twice at the Cheltenham Festival, finish second twice and third once.

Fresh from a 1¾-length victory over previous Grade One winner Good Bye Simon in the Finesse Juvenile Hurdle the previous January, Katchit was sent off 11/2 second-favourite for a competitive, 23-runner renewal of the Triumph Hurdle, over the same course and distance, on his first appearance at the Cheltenham Festival in 2007. Competitive on paper, that is, because Katchit drew clear in the closing stages for an impressive, 9-length victory.

The following season he returned to the Cheltenham Festival, attempting to become the first Triumph Hurdle winner since Kribensis, in 1990, to win the Champion Hurdle. After suffering defeats by Harchibald and Osana, both of whom reopposed, earlier in the season, Katchit was sent off at 10/1 joint-fifth choice of the market behind 2/1 favourite Sizing Europe. However, with the market leader suffering an injury in-running, on 4lb better terms, Katchit managed to reverse earlier International Hurdle form with Osana to the tune of 9 lengths, to win, all out, by a length. In so doing, he became the first five-year-old to win the Champion Hurdle since See You Then in 1985.

Tuesday 15 February 2022



To the public at large, L'Escargot is probably best remembered for his exploits in the Grand National, in which he finished third in 1973, second in 1974 and won, by 15 lengths, in 1975, thereby thwarting an unprecedented hat-trick by Red Rum. However, earlier in his career, L'Escargot was a three-time Cheltenham Festival winner, winning the second division of the Gloucestershire Hurdle, now the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, in 1968 and recording back-to-back victories in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1970 and 1971. Aside from Golden Miller, who won both races in 1934, he remains the only horse to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National.

Owned by Raymond Guest, US Ambassador to Ireland between 1965 and 1968, and trained by Dan Moore in Fairyhouse, Co. Meath, started second favourite for the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 1969, finishing sixth to Persian War, before being sent over fences. The following year, for his first attempt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, L'Escargot was sent off an unconsidered 33/1 outsider, behind hot favourite Kinloch Brae, who carried the yellow and black colours of Anne Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster, made famous by Arkle. However, the market leader fell at the third-last fence and L'Escargot outstayed French Tan in the closing stages to win by a length-and-a-half.

L'Escargot returned, as defending champion, in 1971 and, in a substandard renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, had little difficulty in beating the novice Leapfrog and The Dikler by 10 lengths and 15 lengths. He tried, and failed, to add a third Cheltenham Gold Cup to his winning tally in 1972 and 1973, finishing fourth on both occasions.