Saturday 29 September 2018

The Most Successful Grand National and Cheltenham Horse Trainers

We've showcased a whole host of UK horse trainers on and detailed the trials and tribulations of many a prominent trainer in the process, some from days gone by such  and others firmly in the fray as we speak. Of those in the here and now in 2018  Mark Johnston and Richard Fahey have excelled over the flat, with the former already hitting the 200 wins mark this year. Dan Skelton over the jumps already has amassed 361 wins and (lucky!) 777 places from 1818 runs. So we've certainly established that there are some big hitters in the horse trainer world.

Just as important though, is how well trainers perform in the big events and festivals. Much in the same way that athletes are remembered for their perfomances in World Championships and the Olympics, jockeys, horses and indeed horse trainers make the biggest impact and carve out a place in racing history based on their successes in the Grand National, Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot and so on. Take the legend of racing Red Rum, who made a name for himself on account of his three stunning Grand National victories in 1973, 1974 and 1977, rewarding many of those following Grand National tips. The impact of this accolade certainly boosted the reputation of jockey Brian Fletcher at the time too, as well as trainer Ginger McCain. McCain's son Donald Jnr (no relation to the orange terror in the Whitehouse!) trained the 2011 Grand National winner Ballabriggs. Racing success can often be a family affair.

So which trainers have excelled in more recent years during UK captivating racing festivals? Truth be told there has been quite an even spread of trainer successes in recent years over the big events. The Cheltenham Gold Cup has seen some stand out performances though, by horses trained by a couple of well known trainers. Best Mate, ridden by Jim Culloty, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2002, 2003 and 2004. He was trained by Oxford graduate and National Hunt specialist Henrietta Catherine Knight. Knight impressed in several other races at Cheltenham over the years. Another standout is  horse trainer Paul Nicholls, with Gold Cup wins from 2007 and 2009. Impressively the Gold Cup wins came via two different horses, Kauto Star (in 2007 and 2009) and Denman in 2008. Nicholls also trained Neptune Collonges, the winner of the 2012 Grand National cementing him as one of the greatest trainers of his generation.

Ginger McCain aside, in truth it's not an easy task to single out horse trainers in recent decades,who dominated the Aintree Grand National. That said, I'd say that a special mention has to go to Tim Forster, who experienced much success in the event for over the period of 15 years. He trained winners Well To Do in 1970, Ben Nevis in 1980 and Last Suspect in 1985. That level of longevity in such a competitive event is a rare achievement by any standard!

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