Alan King Stable Visit
Born into a farming family in Lanarkshire on December 13, 1966, Alan was a member of a local pony club and also competed on the show jumping circuit before joining David Nicholson in Gloucestershire as an amateur jockey in 1985, having previously worked for John Wilson in his native Scotland.
He managed to finish third in a couple of hunter chases, but soon realised that race riding was not for him and served as assistant for 15 years to Nicholson, from whom he took over the licence at Jackdaws Castle stables near Temple Guiting on December 3, 1999.
He only had to wait until the following day for Mini Moo Min to provide him with a first success at Towcester. In that rookie season, Alan also saddled Relkeel to take a third Bula Hurdle (now the StanJames.com International) at Cheltenham a week after breaking his duck and the following weekend captured the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot with Anzum, who formed part of a four-timer. He also sent out Go Ballistic to finish second behind See More Business in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.
Alan was based at Jackdaws Castle, then owned by Colin Smith, until the end of that 1999/2000 season, when he moved (June 1, 2000) to the Barbury Castle estate near Marlborough, Wiltshire, which was bought by one of his principal owners, Nigel Bunter, and the trainer has since gone from strength to strength from that base.
Horses of the calibre of Stromness, winner of the Grade One Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in 2002, Spendid, victorious in the Grade Two Long Distance Hurdle at Ascot the same year, and 2004 Grade Two Cleeve Hurdle victor Crystal D'Ainay helped to cement Alan's position as one of the most talented and successful trainers in Britain. He gained 66 successes during the 2004/05 season and came within three of that total the following term. A memorable campaign in terms of both numbers and quality in the 2006/07 season saw him end the term with 92 winners, while there was another significant leap forward in 2007/08 when 128 successes were seen.
Alan's first win at The Festival came in 2004, when Fork Lightning won the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase and the following year the trainer landed the JCB Triumph Hurdle with Penzance.
The 2006 Cheltenham Festival saw Alan secure a Grade One double, as Voy Por Ustedes captured the Racing Post Arkle Chase and My Way De Solzen battled to victory in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
Katchit returned to The Festival in 2008 to take the Stan James Champion Hurdle, becoming the first five-year-old to triumph in the championship race for 23 years, while Nenuphar Collognes won the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and Charlie Huxley rode Old Benny to victory in the National Hunt Chase.
The 2008/09 season saw Alan take third spot in the trainers’ championship for a second consecutive season, with a career-best 136 wins to his name and £1,888,035 in total prize money. Voy Por Ustedes continued to be a standard-bearer for the stable, easily landing the Grade One Ascot Chase and recording a second victory in the Grade One Melling Chase at Aintree. Alan continued to enjoy remarkable success with his juvenile hurdlers as Walkon triumphed in the Grade One Finale Juvenile Hurdle in December.
Hopes were high for both horses at The Festival in 2009 as Voy Por Ustedes was sent off a red-hot favourite for the Ryanair Chase and Walkon headed the market for the JCB Triumph Hurdle. Both horses ran gallant races in defeat with Voy Por Ustedes going down by two lengths to Imperial Commander and Walkon finding Zaynar three quarters of a length too strong in the JCB Triumph. Medermit also took the runner-up spot behind Go Native in the William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, while Karabak chased home Mikael D’Haguenet in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle. A frustrating week for the Barbury Castle stable ended on a brighter note as Oh Crick landed the final race of The Festival, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase, giving Alan the 700th victory of his training career.
A muscle enzyme problem affected many of Alan’s string at the start of the 2009/2010 campaign and the trainer endured a frustrating campaign that saw him saddle a total of 76 British Jump winners. Notable successes included Medermit, who triumphed in the Grade Two Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock and Trenchant, successful in Fontwell’s Grade Two National Spirit Hurdle.
Last season Alan sent out 84 winners, including his 12th at The Festival when Bensalem took the JLT Trophy Specialty Chase. Highlights so far this season include Raya Star’s victory in the Ladbroke at Ascot, while West End Rocker looks a live contender for the John Smith’s Grand National following his win in the Becher Chase at Aintree. Alan looks set for a powerful assault on The Festival once again. He has trained 62 winners so far this season (before racing on Thursday, March 1). He has also had considerable success on the Flat over the years.
Alan married his wife Rachel in Antigua in 1998 and they have a son Henry and a daughter Georgia.
ALAN KING’S ENTRIES AT THE 2012 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL
Tuesday, March 13 - Champion Day
Pulteney Land Investments Novices' Handicap Chase - Bless The Wings
Wednesday, March 14 - Ladies Day
Diamond Jubilee National Hunt Chase - Iron Chancellor
RSA Chase - Invictus, Walkon
Coral Cup - Secret Edge, Smad Place, Sir Harry Ormesher, Batonnier
Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle - Volcan Surprise, Fire Fighter, Ardlui, Secret Edge, Vendor
Weatherbys Champion Bumper - Valdez
Thursday, March 15 - St Patrick’s Thursday
Jewson Novices’ Chase - Kumbeshwar, Invictus
Ryanair Chase - Medermit
Ladbrokes World Hurdle - Smad Place
Byrne Group Plate - Kumbeshwar, Bless The Wings
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase - Midnight Appeal
Friday, March 16 - Cheltenham Gold Cup Day
JCB Triumph Hurdle - Grumeti, Vendor, Ardlui, Balder Succes
Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle - Raya Star
Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle - Lovcen
Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup - Medermit
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle - Torphichen, Sir Harry Ormesher, Secret Edge, Lovcen
Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup - Kumbeshwar
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