Champion Hurdle: From Blaris to Istabraqby Michael Tanner
Over the years, many of National Hunt racing's most renowned equine and human celebrities have been associated with hurdling's Blue Riband event. From Blaris to Istabraq, all the great horses are here, notably the elite quintet of triple champions: Hatton's Grace; Persian War; the irascible pair Sir Ken and See You Then; and Istabraq himself, denied his first crack at the elusive fourth title because of the disastrous foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001. Their stories evoke memories of mighty deeds, while those of horses like Merry Deal, Winning Fair, Dawn Run and Flakey Dove, for instance, require belief in fairy tales. The gallery of human participants adds to the action and romance. No history can be dull when it involves owners like the inveterate gambler and eccentric Dorothy Paget; trainers like the charismatic Ryan Price, Irish wizard Vincent O'Brien or the mould-breaking Martin Pipe - and jockeys such as Fred Winter and Tony McCoy.
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