Tributes to ‘little warrior’ Katchit

Robert Thornton and Katchit drive to the line to win the 2008 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham
Robert Thornton and Katchit drive to the line to win the 2008 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham
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TRAINER Alan King last night paid tribute to Cheltenham Festival specialist Katchit – winner of the Triumph Hurdle in 2007 and the Champion Hurdle in 2008 – who has died of colic at the age of 10.

After a steady but unspectacular career on the Flat when trained by Mick Channon, the son of Kalanisi really took to jumping and reached dizzy heights under King’s care, winning ten times over hurdles and amassing £600,00 in prize money.

He won his first outing at Market Rasen in 2006 and went on to win four in a row at Cheltenham between November of that year and March 2007, culminating in the Triumph Hurdle when scooted to a nine-length win under his regular jockey Robert “Choc” Thornton. That proved to be a glorious spring, because the following month he went to Aintree and won a Grade 1 hurdle.

The following season he was just as impressive and, although he was beaten in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and International Hurdle, he roared back to form under Thornton to capture the Champion Hurdle, becoming the first five-year-old to win the prestigious Grade 1 since See You Then in 1985.

A series of injuries curtailed his racecourse appearances after that and his last race proved to be the Coral Hurdle at Ascot in November 2011, when he finished well beaten behind Overturn. King said: “He had colic and underwent a couple of 
operations in the last week or so, but took a turn for the worst last night and the vets put him down. We weren’t going to let him suffer. He leaves a huge hole at Barbury and was marvellous for the owners, for Choc [Thornton] and the whole team at the yard. I will never forget those two marvellous first seasons we had with him when he went from strength to strength and exceeded all our expectations. I will never train a tougher horse.” Thornton said on Twitter: “No words I can write can explain what the little warrior meant to myself and the team at Barbury. RIP little man #Katchit.”

Meanwhile, Adam Kirby has been banned for seven days by a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel after being found guilty of breaching the Rules of Racing at Kempton last month.

The jockey was referred to the BHA on Thursday over his ride on the John Butler-trained Pipers Piping, and was found not to have taken all reasonable and permissible measures to ensure that the gelding ran on its merits when tenth in a handicap on
5 December. The on-course stewards did not hold an inquiry on the day but the ride was subsequently reviewed by the BHA.

Kirby, 24, has been in electric form on the all-weather circuit of late, but was found in breach of rule (B)59.4.

Kirby feels aggrieved over the matter, describing it as a “slur on his character”.

He said: “I’m a little bit upset about it. The horse isn’t any cop whatsoever and I rode the way I did to get him to run well. He ran well. As soon as you get 
vigorous with him he stops. He was well beaten before and after so it’s a shame.”

In an interview with At The Races, Kirby went on: “I had Christopher Stewart-Moore with me and he did a good job, but there you go. It’s a slur on my character. I don’t prevent horses from winning, I didn’t prevent him from winning, I rode him the way I did to get him to run well.”

l John Quinn has singled out the Scottish Triumph Hurdle at Musselburgh on 2 February for Kashmir Peak. The former Ger Lyons-trained juvenile has won both starts over timber since joining Quinn in Malton and looked impressive when landing the Grade Two Summit Hurdle at Doncaster last month. Quinn said: “You’ll probably see him next in the Scottish Triumph Hurdle. He could go to Ireland for the race in which Countrywide Flame was third last year but I think we’re likely to get better ground at Musselburgh than in Ireland.”