Nicky Henderson: “The week after Cheltenham can tell me about every race” | horse racing news

Max Mumbi / Indigo

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The Queen enjoying Cheltenham with Nicky Henderson in 2013

Max Mumbi / Indigo

By Louis Porteous

Only 71 of the 1,121 winners worldwide as an owner have skipped the leaps, leaving little room for ambiguity when it comes to deciding where to prioritize them as an outstanding breeding owner.

The Flat undoubtedly came out on top, but that doesn’t mean hops have played an insignificant role in her enduring passion for grass. In fact, her first winner came as owner on the ramparts at Fontwell in 1949 when she was still Princess Elizabeth.

She was already fascinated with racing at the time, after her grandfather King George V first captured how in 1928 a Scuttle filly won the 1000 Guineas.

At 16, she was left fascinated by visiting the Fred Darling stables in Peckhampton with her parents to watch King’s Colt Big Game and Triple Crown champion Sun Chariot practice, and on one of her early visits to the racetrack, she watched her father Hypericum win a race. 1,000 Guineas in 1946. It wasn’t long before she became well acquainted with the mares and ponies at the royal farm in Hampton Court.

After she married Prince Philip in 1947, her wedding gift from the Aga Khan was a dowry, which she called Astrakhan and trained with Willie Smith, but it was Lord Meldmay who encouraged the princess and her mother to buy a jacket too, and they decided to co-own the Monaveen, which Trained by Peter Cazalet.

Astrakhan and Monaveen debuted in princess colors in October 1949, with Monaveen scoring on the ramparts at Fontwell to become the future queen’s first winner.

Monaveen was a smart individual. He won the Queen Elizabeth Chase Race at Hearst Park in December, a race of equal value to the Gold Cup in the same season and the Mana Champion, and the best race the Queen has won on the jumps. He came fifth for the Freebooter in the 1950 Grand National, but his career ended in tragedy when he broke his leg when trying to repeat the win at Hurst Park in December 1950.

When King George VI died in February 1952, the new queen announced that she would breed and race, following the example of her father who preceded her. The inheritance of his breeds and racehorses, all of which were flat horses, meant that she decided to focus exclusively on flats.

In turn, through an enduring and successful association with Cazalet, the Queen Mother has become the figure of the head of state for vaulting in the same way that her daughter will head the apartment in the years to come.

Casalett trained 262 winners for the Queen Mother, including King George VI winner Chase, Manico, and steeplechase runner-up Macaldar, but the horse considered her favorite was Game Spirit, who finished third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and won 21 races.

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Devon Loch: It was the most exciting moment of the Queen Mother’s racing career

Devon Loch provided the most dramatic moment of the Queen Mother’s racing career when he slammed the ground 50 yards from the winning position with the 1956 Grand National at his mercy.

With Fulke Walwyn, she won the Schweppes Gold Cup with Tammuz, who was initially bred for Flat by the Queen, and watched Special Cargo carry the Whitbread Gold Cup in one of the most exciting finishes ever.

Initially raised like Tammuz, by the Flat Monarch, Insular won the 1986 Imperial Cup in the colors of the Queen Mother, who had the record-breaking five-time Grand Prix Military Gold Cup win.

Despite the Queen Mother’s great interest in hops, both Bill Smith and Kevin Money, who enjoyed successful spells as the Queen Mother’s chief jockey when her horses were with Walwin, said that the Queen always cared a lot about her mother’s horses, not least because many had raised her with the apartment situation. Originally taken into account.

Says the 73-year-old Smith, who rode 65 winners in total for the Queen Mother. “The Queen loved her upbringing and that was her great passion, but she also had a lot of fun with the jump races.”

“The Queen bred horses and when they were done with Dick Hearn on the roof, they had come to Fulk and race to jump on the Queen Mother,” says Mooney, who was the Queen Mother’s main jockey between 1984 and 1991. “The first winner I rode with the Queen Mother was the Cranbourne Tower. , who won Flat for Dick Hern.

“I met the Queen several times when she was with the Queen Mother at a November or December meeting in Ascot and loved both sides [Flat and jumps] This sport.”

You can’t get any better than that

Queen was absent when replacement rider Mooney signed up for Special Cargo to win at Whitbread. Smith, who was riding for the last time before retiring, chose instead to ride fellow stablemate Diamond Edge, who came third in an epic finish.

That evening, Mooney and Smith were invited to an apartment in Chelsea owned by Colonel Whitbread to celebrate the result. It was for a select party only and included the Queen Mother, the Queen and Princess Margaret.

Mooney, 67, recalls: “Fulk, Cath Walwin were there too, Colonel Whitbread and his wife and I and Bill Jones. We were supposed to take our wives Bill and I, but the Queen Mother gave us a letter asking if our wives could drop out of school because she wanted to take her two daughters.”

“You can’t get any better than that. We’ve been watching racing videos from a long time back in the day right down to Special Cargo. The Queen was very relaxed and really sat on the floor with her back to the sofa and said she always sat on the floor watching the race. You can’t relax anymore. And it made everyone feel really comfortable.”

Edward Whitaker (

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Coach Nikki Henderson: “I was very lucky and so was the jump race because when we lost the Queen Mother there was persistence and jumping and I had this royal sponsorship”

Edward Whitaker (

Upon the death of the Queen Mother in 2002, the Queen inherited her horses, who subsequently owned her first horses since Monaven in 1950. In fact, 67 of the 71 winners she celebrated during the jumps came this millennium.

The change of ownership meant that Nikki Henderson, who followed Casalette and Walwin before training with the Queen Mother, became the Queen’s lead jump coach.

“When the Queen Mother died, the Queen took on the horses very kindly and I think I went with them, but it was a great and an honor to train for Her Majesty,” says Henderson. “I was very lucky and also the jump race because when we lost the Queen Mother, there was going on and jumping had that royal patronage. They were two great ladies.”

Among the first to switch to the Queen’s colors was the first love that Henderson trained.

He first ran in King’s Embroidered Silk in November 2002 before becoming a sentimental winner at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s Memorial Hunting in 2006 when Jamie Snowden rode it.

“I was fortunate enough to ride some rounds for the Queen when I was an assistant and amateur at Nicky’s and loved it,” Snowden says. “I can’t comment on it compared to Flat Racing but she definitely loved jumping and was very knowledgeable about that too.

“First Love was one of the first to run after she inherited the thread from her mother. For me, putting on colors was a very proud and very lucky place that I will definitely remember for the rest of my life. I would like to hope you enjoyed the First Love win as much as I did.”

Edward Whitaker (

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Barber Shop: Eight-time winner and best since Monaveen to carry the Queen’s silk over the hops

Edward Whitaker (