British jump trainers: Four of the best
Jump jockeys usually get a lot of credit for the wins they achieve on race days, but there is always hard work going on behind the scenes. It is the trainer who masterminds the wins by fine-tweaking tactics and ensures the horse is comfortable in the stable before making their way to the paddock.
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One of the most recognisable faces in horse racing, Nicky Henderson has had a formidable career as a jump trainer. Indeed, Henderson and Cheltenham have gone hand in hand. He’s trained an astonishing 60 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, and perhaps he is most famed for the exploits of Altior and Buveur d’Air.
The aforementioned nags have always been in contention in the UK’s biggest races. Altior was electric, and among the wins included are the Sharp Novices’ Hurdle, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase as well as the Celebration Chase twice.
Buveur d’Air has been an almost immovable force, clocking up 14 wins and a place from 17 runs, and picked up back-to-back wins in the Contenders Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle.
When you think of Paul Nicholls, one of the first horses that springs to mind is the indomitable Kauto Star. Nicholls has churned out the Grade 1 wins with Kauto Star and Denman winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but there have also been successes at the King George VI Stakes, as at the Betfred Bowl Chase with Silviniaco Conti.
In partnering with jockey Ruby Walsh, this strengthened Nicholls’ hand. The trainer, who was awarded an OBE in the 2020 New Years Honours list for services to horse racing, is a 12-time National Hunt Champion trainer, and he is a true legend.
With over 1,000 winners to his name, Nigel Twiston-Davies is one of the most prolific trainers in the UK. Having previously ridden as an amateur jockey for six years, the transition from saddle to the stable was a seamless one.
Twiston-Davies has trained two winners at the Grand National – the first time came with Earth Summit in 1988 – and then he enjoyed success at Aintree again in 2002 with Bindaree. In total, Tiwston-Davies has sent out 45 Grand National runners since 1994.
Previously, his record at Cheltenham was rather moderate, but in 2010, Twiston-Davies won with Imperial Commander, and immediately after, Sam Twiston-Davies clinched the Cheltenham Foxhunters on Baby Run.
When we look back on special trainers, Twiston-Davies certainly falls into that category.
While Alan King has enjoyed some flat wins as a trainer, it is his pedigree with the jumps that makes him so distinguished. Katchit was a popular winner for King at Cheltenham, where he claimed wins in the Triumph Hurdle in 2007 and the Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy in 2008.
Balder Succes was also a reliable horse, and enjoyed success at Ascot and Aintree. King has always had the midas touch, and the Scot thoroughly deserves in his place on our list.