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Hurdling crown owes much to crowd-pleaser; National Spirit.

THE Champion Hurdle The Champion Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt horse race in the United Kingdom for four-year-old and above horses. It is run over a distance of 2 miles 110 yards (3,319 metres) on the Old Course at Cheltenham Racecourse on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival in March.  was first run in 1927 but did not become a championship race until after World War II.

National Spirit was the horse who did most to boost the status of not only that race but hurdle racing in general, and the versatile public favourite ran in the Cheltenham feature a record six times (1947-52) for form figures of 1144F0.

After National Spirit's trainer and part-owner Vic Smyth had failed to make a chaser of him, he arrived in the top flight of hurdlers with victory under 12st 5lb in a Doncaster handicap The Doncaster Handicap is a Group 1 thoroughbred horse race held at Randwick Racecourse, Sydney. It is held each year on Easter Monday. The race is contested over 1600 metres (one mile) and has a current prize of $2,500,000.  in December 1946.

In the 1947 Champion Hurdle (postponed until April) the favourite, Le Paillon, was taken wide all the way round by Alec Head, whereas National Spirit, ridden by Danny Morgan Danny Morgan (born November 4, 1984) is an English football (soccer) forward. Morgan started his career at Wimbledon in 2003, joining his current club Oxford United on the May 18, 2004 after a successful trial, during which he scored a hat-trick on his debut for the reserves , went the shortest way and beat the French raider by a length. The belief that Le Paillon should have won was validated when he landed the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe later that year.

National Spirit needed no luck to win the Champion Hurdle in 1948 as, ridden by the trainer's nephew Ron Smyth, he led at the second-last and beat D.U.K.W. by two lengths, with Irish outsider Hatton's Grace fifth.

He was favourite for a Champion Hurdle hat-trick 12 months later but ran well below form to finish fourth behind Hatton's Grace, who had been transformed after being moved to Vincent O'Brien.

The year-older Hatton's Grace beat him in the next two Champion Hurdles as well, but on both occasions he made a gallant attempt to regain the title. In 1950, having been attacked by nobblers in his box two days before, he would have finished second had a blunder at the final flight not knocked him back to fourth place; and in 1951 he was still just in front but tiring when he fell at the last. In 1952 he finished unplaced behind Sir Ken.

This dual-purpose performer was a notable staying handicapper hand·i·cap·per  
n. Sports & Games
1. One who assigns handicaps.

2. One who predicts the winners in a horserace, especially one who publishes such predictions as a guide for bettors.

Noun 1.
 on the Flat, only 10lb below top class. The Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell keeps his memory alive. John Randall People with the name John Randall
  • John Randall (Annapolis mayor) (1750–1826), mayor of Annapolis, Maryland and colonel in the American Revolution
  • Sir John Randall (physicist) (1905–1984), British physicist, developer of the cavity magnetron
 Twice a champion Owner-breeder Len Abelson Trainer Vic Smyth Jockeys Danny Morgan, Ron Smyth, Dennis Dillon Festival wins 1947 Champion Hurdle, 1948 Champion Hurdle Other big wins 1946 Princess Elizabeth Hurdle, 1947 King George VI Handicap, Cosmopolitan Cup, 1948 King George VI Handicap, 1949 Oteley Hurdle, Cheltenham Hurdle, Princess Elizabeth Hurdle, 1950 Oteley Hurdle Ran 44 races over jumps, won 19 What you didn't know His name was originally registered as Avago What they said about him "National Spirit has not a deal of pace. Rather is he a long-striding strong galloper, and for that reason he is probably more effective when the surface is easy" - Phil Bull (The Best Horses of 1947)
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 3, 2012
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