It could be argued that in most cases, training a sensational national hunt winner is something of a matter of luck. Once a superior racehorse retires, the trainer in question often returns to a career of more modest accomplishments.
However, a handful of national hunt trainers have repeatedly demonstrated true skill, extracting the full potential of horses at some of the biggest jump racing events in the sport.
Fulke Walwyn is recognised as one of the first truly great trainers to emerge in national hunt racing.
Walwyn's achievements included training four separate winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, training two winners of the Champion Hurdle and training an incredible tally of five King George VI Chase winners.
Walwyn's horses won 40 races at the Cheltenham Festival between 1946 and 1986 – a record that has stood the test of time.
Walwyn didn't rely on one stable star to rack up his major race wins. Instead he had an ability to detect and bring out the talent in promising racehorse.
Walwyn was awarded the Champion trainer award a total of five times during his career.
Fred Winter was unique in that his successes as a trainer were matched by his achievements as a rider.
Winter made his name on the hallowed turf of Aintree, winning the Grand National twice as a jockey before going on to train two Grand National winners in the mid-1960s.
Winter repeated this impressive feat in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle, becoming the only person in the history of national hunt racing to win all three races as both a jockey and trainer.
Winter is perhaps best remembered for his ride on Mandarin at the 1962 Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at Auteuil. He won the race despite being ill, racing with a broken bit and seeing his horse begin to break down over the final half-mile of the race. In 2006, this race was voted the greatest national hunt ride of all time by the readers of the Racing Post.
Martin Pipe is generally considered to be the greatest national hunt trainer of all time, and it's unlikely that his tally of 15 Champion trainer titles will ever be surpassed.
Pipe didn't start his career as a winning trainer. He made his training debut in 1975 and won his first major race only in 1981.
During this period, Pipe pioneered a science-based approach to training. His critics were silenced when a Pipe-trained horse won the 1981 Champion Hurdle –and within the next decade, Pipe emerged as the pre-eminent trainer in national hunt racing.
A victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup eluded Pipe throughout his career. However, horses he trained won a total of 36 Cheltenham Festival races, including two Champion Hurdle titles, as well as the toughest of national hunt races, the Grand National.
In 2006, poor health forced Pipe to hand over his training facilities to his son, David.
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