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Cheltenham Festival Legends: Willie Wumpkins
Mon, Jan 13th, 2014

Willie Wumpkins makes the Fat Jockey Cheltenham Hall of Fame as one of a very small club of horses who have won four times at the Cheltenham Festival. Remarkably the first and last of Willie Wumpkins wins were eight years apart.

The first of his wins came in 1973 as a five year old in the race now known as the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle. He was ridden by Pat Colville and trained by Adrian Maxwell.

The horse then was injured but defied the conventional wisdom " that that they dont come back " with three successive wins in the race now known as the Pertemps Handicap Final between 1979 and 1981. This sequence of wins came began when the horse was an 11 year old and concluded as a 13 year old. Willie Wumpkins died in 1995 at the ripe old age of 27. For his last three Cheltenham wins Willie Wumpkins was ridden by Mr Jim Wilson and trained by Jane Pilkington.

Speaking about his association with Willie Wumpkins in 2007, Jim Wilson told the Mail: 

"He was my mother-in-law's (Jane Pilkington) horse and won four times at the  Festival. Her nephew (Irish trainer Adrian Maxwell) bought him as a young horse  for £1,800 and he won at Cheltenham as a five-year-old.

"Then he had a heart problem. When he came back at the age of nine, I rode  him at Cheltenham and we got murdered everywhere. I told my mother-in-law that  we should train him for that race next year, and he won it three times on the  run."

Jim Wilson is himself one of a very select band to have ridden, owned and trained winners at the Cheltenham Festival. He was top jockey at the big meeting in 1980 with three winners and then 12 months later became only the third amateur  to win the Gold Cup on the Peter Easterby-trained Little Owl, who Wilson part-owned with his brother Robin. His victory as a trainer came when he sent out Taberna Lord to win the 1987 Coral Golden Hurdle Final. ATR's Luke Harvey did the steering..

Thanks to tadpoletutor on youtube for this video of Willie Wumpkins, introduced by Julian Wilson, seen winning the Cheltenham Coral Golden Hurdle Final ( now the Pertemps) in 1980 and 1981.


 

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