Alan King and the elusive Gold Cup

01-February-2021
01-February-2021 10:40
in General
by Peter McNeile

Since 2000, well-known Barbury trainer, Alan King, has worked out of Barbury Castle. Located in Wroughton, the race-winning expert has his own stables, which has thus far trained 1,799 winners. For all of King’s achievements under both codes, he’s best known for his multiple Cheltenham Festival successes. However, despite having 15 Cheltenham winners under his belt, the Gold Cup has so far evaded his grasp. In many ways, the Grade 1 National Hunt is the missing piece in King’s Cheltenham-rich trophy collection. So, could 2021 end the drought?

Could 2021 Be the Year to Claim Gold?

As is the case every year, winning the Gold Cup certainly won't be a straightforward task in 2021. Having never won it, there will be a part of King that wants to add the must-win event to his record. Interestingly, according to horse racing bets and ahead of the Cheltenham card, Al Boum Photo is currently the favourite to win for a third consecitive time. Trained by Willie Mullins, the French-bred will be seeking to win three consecutive Gold Cups in 2021.

Furthermore, on current form, Leopardstown Chase winner A Plus Tard is also thought to be a leading contender to win the 2021 Gold Cup. To date, the seven-year-old bay gelding is yet to compete at Cheltenham’s closing event, but that will soon change. The Cheveley Park Stud-owned horse does, however, have experience of competing at Cheltenham, winning the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase back in March 2019. In A Plus Tard’s only other entrance at the Festival, he finished third in the 2020 Ryanair chase.

A successful career, but Cheltenham’s premier event has long evaded him

As mentioned above, the 55-year-old King boasts a proud record at Cheltenham, which is richest event on the National Hunt calendar for prize money. King's special relationship with the highly-anticipated event stems back to 2004, when his horse, Fork Lightning, won the 2004 William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase. Fast forward 11 years and the Lanarkshire-born trainer added his most recent success at the event, clinching the 2015 Ryanair Chase with Uxizandre. Since 2015, there's been a Festival drought, although plenty of contenders from Barbury have run to their best form. 

In terms of the Gold Cup, however, success has been hard to come by. Back in 2008, the trainer with 34 years of experience came close to the pinnacle of the Cheltenham festival. In the highly-anticipated event, King's Halcon Genelardais, who was ridden by Robert Thornton, finished the race in fourth place. On the back of a promising result, expectations were high for the following year. However, in 2009, the same combination of horse and trainer had a short race, falling first at fence 13, allowing Kauto Star to win the event.

Years later, it still wasn’t meant to be for King. In the years 2015-17, the trainer entered Smad Place, ridden by Wayne Hutchinson. In each instance, Smad Place was done for toe, and finished mid-division. 

Does King Need the Gold Cup? 

During the recent Al Boum Photo era of dominance, King hasn’t submitted an entrant into the Gold Cup. But there's no reason to ring alarm bells around this; at this highest level, there is no point running for the fun of it. A trainer's task is to place horses to win races, not to come second.

In turn, this raises questions regarding whether he needs to win the event to cement his legacy at Cheltenham, given the stable's growing presence on the Flat. On the face of it, he doesn’t. His longevity speaks for itself, as does his consistency. That said, having tried and fallen short on numerous occasions, there may be a lasting feeling of "what if" should he never get his hands on the Gold Cup.

Next Event

When?

Sunday December 12th Barbury International First Race 11.30am

Sunday February 13th Vine & Craven First race 11.30am

Sunday April 10th Tedworth First Race 1.15pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where?

Barbury, 3m N of Marlborough, off A346, Jn 15 M4

 

Latest News

Alan King and the elusive Gold Cup

01-February-2021
01-February-2021 10:40
in General
by Peter McNeile

Since 2000, well-known Barbury trainer, Alan King, has worked out of Barbury Castle. Located in Wroughton, the race-winning expert has his own stables, which has thus far trained 1,799 winners. For all of King’s achievements under both codes, he’s best known for his multiple Cheltenham Festival successes. However, despite having 15 Cheltenham winners under his belt, the Gold Cup has so far evaded his grasp. In many ways, the Grade 1 National Hunt is the missing piece in King’s Cheltenham-rich trophy collection. So, could 2021 end the drought?

Could 2021 Be the Year to Claim Gold?

As is the case every year, winning the Gold Cup certainly won't be a straightforward task in 2021. Having never won it, there will be a part of King that wants to add the must-win event to his record. Interestingly, according to horse racing bets and ahead of the Cheltenham card, Al Boum Photo is currently the favourite to win for a third consecitive time. Trained by Willie Mullins, the French-bred will be seeking to win three consecutive Gold Cups in 2021.

Furthermore, on current form, Leopardstown Chase winner A Plus Tard is also thought to be a leading contender to win the 2021 Gold Cup. To date, the seven-year-old bay gelding is yet to compete at Cheltenham’s closing event, but that will soon change. The Cheveley Park Stud-owned horse does, however, have experience of competing at Cheltenham, winning the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase back in March 2019. In A Plus Tard’s only other entrance at the Festival, he finished third in the 2020 Ryanair chase.

A successful career, but Cheltenham’s premier event has long evaded him

As mentioned above, the 55-year-old King boasts a proud record at Cheltenham, which is richest event on the National Hunt calendar for prize money. King's special relationship with the highly-anticipated event stems back to 2004, when his horse, Fork Lightning, won the 2004 William Hill National Hunt Handicap Chase. Fast forward 11 years and the Lanarkshire-born trainer added his most recent success at the event, clinching the 2015 Ryanair Chase with Uxizandre. Since 2015, there's been a Festival drought, although plenty of contenders from Barbury have run to their best form. 

In terms of the Gold Cup, however, success has been hard to come by. Back in 2008, the trainer with 34 years of experience came close to the pinnacle of the Cheltenham festival. In the highly-anticipated event, King's Halcon Genelardais, who was ridden by Robert Thornton, finished the race in fourth place. On the back of a promising result, expectations were high for the following year. However, in 2009, the same combination of horse and trainer had a short race, falling first at fence 13, allowing Kauto Star to win the event.

Years later, it still wasn’t meant to be for King. In the years 2015-17, the trainer entered Smad Place, ridden by Wayne Hutchinson. In each instance, Smad Place was done for toe, and finished mid-division. 

Does King Need the Gold Cup? 

During the recent Al Boum Photo era of dominance, King hasn’t submitted an entrant into the Gold Cup. But there's no reason to ring alarm bells around this; at this highest level, there is no point running for the fun of it. A trainer's task is to place horses to win races, not to come second.

In turn, this raises questions regarding whether he needs to win the event to cement his legacy at Cheltenham, given the stable's growing presence on the Flat. On the face of it, he doesn’t. His longevity speaks for itself, as does his consistency. That said, having tried and fallen short on numerous occasions, there may be a lasting feeling of "what if" should he never get his hands on the Gold Cup.

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