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Jonjo O'Neill and AP
Strong association with Kempton
Strong association with Kempton
The Lanzarote story
05/01/04 Lanzarote is best remembered for his triumph over Comedy Of Errors in the 1974 Champion Hurdle, but his exploits around Kempton were equally notable and the track honours him again on January 17 with this year’s edition of the Tote Lanzarote Hurdle.

It is fitting that the two-mile race is one of the most competitive handicap hurdles of the season because Lanzarote was renowned for his fighting spirit and was once described by Brough Scott as “a Henry Cooper of a horse - a powerful tiger on the course, yet gentle and quiet off it.”

Lanzarote’s finest moment was his defeat of big rival Comedy Of Errors in the Champion Hurdle. Comedy Of Errors was the reigning champion but was foiled by the tactical know-how of Lanzarote’s trainer Fred Winter and jockey Richard Pitman.

Calzado ran as a pacemaker for Lanzarote, setting a strong gallop which helped to draw the sting from Comedy Of Errors. Pitman committed his mount from a long way out and Comedy Of Errors, who appeared to be cruising with two flights to jump, had no answer up the punishing Cheltenham hill. Lanzarote bravely answered every call and had three lengths to spare at the line.

The result was a surprise but not a shock as it was Lanzarote’s 10th consecutive victory. However, Comedy Of Errors was not at his best that day and he generally held sway in subsequent battles, notably when becoming the only horse to regain the Champion Hurdle crown the following year, with Lanzarote unplaced.

Lanzarote raced in the colours of Lord Howard de Walden, the renowned Flat owner-breeder, who happened upon a major success story in the jumps sphere almost by accident. Lord Howard made unsuccessful attempts to offload the horse, who had won only a long-distance maiden race on the Flat, but reluctantly was forced to send him to Fred Winter "to see if he could jump".

Winter, the master trainer, found a willing pupil and Lanzarote proved one of the best hurdlers during the 1970s, which is regarded as the golden age of hurdling, and among the top ten of all time.

Kempton was a favourite hunting ground for Lanzarote, who won the Imperial Cup and two Christmas Hurdles at the track. Other notable victories included the Welsh Champion Hurdle and he finished his hurdling career with 20 wins from 33 starts, plus six placed efforts.

Lanzarote went chasing in the 1976/77 season and looked a natural over the bigger obstacles, recording three stylish wins before starting second favourite for the 1977 Cheltenham Gold Cup. The story had an unhappy ending, however, as he slipped after jumping the ninth fence, broke his near-hind leg and had to be destroyed.

The Lanzarote Hurdle has thrown up some good horses, including 1997 winner Make A Stand, who emulated the great horse by landing the Champion Hurdle later in the season. Tiutchev, successful in 1999, has gone on to great success as a chaser at 2m-2m4f, including four wins at Grade 1 level, and finished runner-up in the 2003 King George VI Chase.

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