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The hunter-'chaser.

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Conceding weight he made a promising start when third and then second in handicap chases at Leicester and Ascot, was then switched back to hunter chasing for victory in a three-runner jog around at Leicester and then took his place in Cheltenham's feature race. In 1980, despite recording an unseat on his first start in a hunters' chase the progression continued. As a five-year-old Spartan Missile's education continued and he was twice pulled up before enormous ability overcame his youth, size and inexperience. Instead, the temptation of another Cheltenham Foxhunter Chase was taken, and while Spartan Missile gave Diana a fine ride and carried her into sixth place behind the Alan Hill-ridden Elmboy he finished lame.

At Cheltenham he beat Honourable Man (Geordie Dun) and Sun Lion (Robert Waley-Cohen) by 12l and 20l in a time only five seconds slower than it took Little Owl to defeat legends Night Nurse and Silver Buck in the Gold Cup, while at Aintree Grittar was in a different league, cantering home by 20 lengths and one and a half lengths from Sydney Quinn (Paul Webber) and Flexibility (Martin Bosley).When he was being broken in he did like bucking, and so we backed him in a stable to give ourselves a bit more control.

Libby travelled with Frank and his wife Joan plus her 12-year-old son Pete, leaving Egerton to watch the race on television at home with their daughters Alex and Kim aged nine and seven. The next time around he just took hold of the bit and headed straight for it and jumped it cleanly, with Nicky holding on. Pacha Du Polder and Noble Prince managed to get closer to him at Aintree and Punchestown respectively, however neither could deny him a historic first triple crown of the top spring hunter chases at the big festivals. Kohaku, the Aintree and Cheltenham Foxhunters are now dominated by professionally trained horses only here in the short term - look at last years winners!His second Aintree win is also worthy of Youtube viewing, although it proves the Grand National fences were in those days a daunting test for many a hunter and their amateur riders. He ran 16 times over hurdles between the ages of three and five, winning twice in big fields and making the frame on half a dozen occasions.

When they arrived I was very worried, and said to Julie, who worked for us, stand near his back legs to prevent anyone getting too close. Dureing the race I was qatching in hope more than anything, as they were coming of the back straight I though this has a real chance. Fifteen horses lined up, half a dozen runners departed at the first, and when Spartan Missile cruised down to Becher's Brook he had just three rivals. The remounted Loving Words came home a distance behind in third, and Saunders told the waiting media: "I did nothing – Grittar did it all.He assisted Caroline's fledgling training career until his death at the far-too-young age of 68 when he was claimed by cancer. I remember Steve Marshall and Derek Lane who worked for us saying Grittar was difficult to break in, and that was probably why he was sent to licensed trainer Walter Wharton at Melton Mowbray. The only reason I bought Cousin Pascal was because I wanted to go point-to-pointing during lockdown and at the time you had to be an owner to attend," he said. Born in the midst of the Great Depression, the theme of the 1939 World’s Fair was “The World of Tomorrow” - a theme that captured the hearts of a generation. Mullins has transformed Its On The Line from a maiden hunter chase winner at five to reach the top of the tree at six.

Spartan Missile was put down and buried at Windsor House Stables [Nicky Henderson's base before he gained Seven Barrows], and I've been going there most years since to visit the grave and clean the headstone. Foaled in 1974 having been bred by John Thorne at his Warwickshire farm, Spartan Missile was a son of Spartan General out of Polaris Missile. And the English successes within the big spring hunter chases once again continued through to Punchestown, as Rose Loxton’s Caid Du Berlais ran out a wide-margin winner of the Champion Hunter Chase for the second year in succession. When he died and the horse was moved to Windsor House there was an equine pool to swim around and Corky Browne, the head lad, couldn't believe how powerfully he could swim. Do you have any recollections or fond memories of any of the 'Greats' (Double Silk, Baby Run, Teaplanter, Spartan Missile, Cavalero and Grittar) featured so far?Billaway cemented his position at the top of the Hunter Chase division in Ireland, winning at Naas en-route to avenging his narrow defeat 12 months earlier by getting the better of Winged Leader in a thrilling climax to the Cheltenham Festival Hunter Chase. Fifth on a get-fit season's debut at Wetherby, Grittar then clocked up four straight hunters' chase victories starting at Leicester, continuing in Cheltenham's Foxhunter Chase, then Aintree's equivalent and finally at Southwell. Grittar was foaled in 1973, a son of the stallion Grisaille out of Tarama (Tamerlane), one of the first mares bought by Gilman. Before the race Frank had said, jokingly, 'If anybody gets lost we'll meet in the winner's enclosure – Ha ha!

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