They broke the mould when they made Fred Winter and naming a race after the great man who died in 2004 aged 77 was probably the least Cheltenham could do.
Not many people can claim to be at the top of one profession but Winter achieved legendary status as both as a jockey and trainer.
In total he had 17 Cheltenham Festival successes in the saddle and then bettered it by 11 as a trainer, registering 28 victories.
He holds the unique feat of becoming the only person to have both ridden and trained winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle.
In the saddle he guided Saffron Tartan in 1961 and Mandarin in 1962 to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory before finally landing the race as a trainer in 1978 with Midnight Court. He won the Champion Hurdle three times as a jockey and an incredible four times as a trainer.
Queen Mother Champion Chase Tips
For this Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle Hinterland looks should have too much for Vendor and should take the spoils
Since the inception of the race in Winter’s honour, run over two-miles, David Pipe has been atrainer to follow. His fruitful record saw him pick up a huge bonus of £75,000 in 2007 when Gaspara landed the Fred Winter after winning the Imperial Cup at Sandown the week previous.
This bonus is generated by Paddy Power for any horse that wins the traditionally competitive Listed handicap and goes on to land a race at the Cheltenham Festival. Pipe was also only a neck away from completing the double in 2008 when gambled-on Ashkazar was foiled by Crack Away Jack.
When planning a punting attack on the race it’s probably good to know that all seven previous winners of this race had failed to taste victory in their first two races over hurdles.
What A Charm fell into that category last season when landing this event for Arthur Moore, who sent out his filly to come through a ding dong battle with the Alan King-trained Kumbeshwar. It was owner Chris Jones’s fourth victory at the Festival following on from Klairon Davis (Arkle 1995, Champion Chase 1996) and Tiger Cry (Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase 1998).
Speed is the name of the game in this two mile handicap contest, run in memory of the legendary Fred Winter. It is usually won by a slow maturing type over hurdles, that has plenty of ability but has struggled to adapt to jumping and therefore their handicap mark is lower than maybe it should be.
Favourites do not have the greatest track record in this handicap hurdle and therefore the race is one for punters to take a chance on a horse with inflated odds. However, this year’s favourite, Vendor for trainer Alan King, has been the subject of some significant market support, so much so it seems defeat is all but out of the question.
The French raider broke his duck over hurdles in nice style at Newbury in a race that high-class hurdlers Celestial Halo and Grandouet have won this in recent seasons. There had been talk of sending the horse into the battle of a Supreme Novices Hurdle but King has decided to target a handicap following the BHA’s decision to give the horse a mark King has called ‘interesting’.
The race has had the habit of producing some nice priced winners over the five years it has been run. The average price of the winner has gone off with a starting price of 16/1 – however that stat is skewed a little by the 40/1 win of Shamayoun in 2006.
Hinterland currently is second in the betting behind the well-gambled King runner. Paul Nicholls’ French import had been thought of a potential Triumph Hurdle winner and was ante-post favourite at one point but had his colours lowered significantly by Baby Mix at Cheltenham in December.
He has since been switched to handicaps but looked very inexperienced still when finishing over 20 lengths behind Gumeti last time out at Cheltenham. Nicholls still has high hopes for him and he could be an ideal type for a race of this nature.