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Champion for four seasons in a row; Easter Hero.

EASTER HERO did not win a record number of Gold Cups but he, not Golden Miller, was the greatest steeplechaser between the wars.

The champion chaser for four consecutive seasons, this exciting front-runner did win the Gold Cup twice and earned immortal fame with his amazing effort to be second under 12st 7lb in the 1929 Grand National.

Bred in Ireland and named in tribute to the Easter rising of 1916, Easter Hero had several owners and trainers early in his career, and as a five-year-old he fell in the inaugural Cotswold (now Arkle) Chase.

He rose to prominence in the autumn of 1926 when scoring the first of his three victories over the Grand National fences in the Molyneux Chase - though it was a handicap and he carried only 10st.

Easter Hero was the champion chaser for the first time in 1927-28, when he won the level-weights Becher Chase at Aintree and defied 12st 7lb in two Kempton handicaps. In the second of them, the Coventry (later Racing Post) Chase, he showed hitherto unsuspected stamina to win over 3m4f.

The first of his three Grand National bids ended in a debacle, as he led until landing on top of the Canal Turn fence on the first circuit, causing a massive pile-up matched only by the one in Foinavon's year.

That summer Easter Hero won the Prix des Drags at Auteuil and was then bought by US multi-millionaire Jock Whitney and transferred to trainer Jack Anthony at Letcombe Regis.

In the 1928-29 season he won four hurdle races and then produced a brilliant display in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which in those days was no more than a National prep. He led from the start under Dick Rees, was soon well clear, and crushed his rivals to score by 20 lengths.

Ten days later Easter Hero put up the greatest single performance in the history of the Grand National. Carrying the crushing burden of 12st 7lb, he started favourite in a world record field of 66 runners and led nearly all the way under Jack Moloney on rain-sodden ground. But he began to tire approaching the second-last and the top-class Gregalach (received 17lb) forged ahead to beat him by six lengths.

IT WAS a magnificent failure made all the more heroic by the fact that the nine-year-old finished with one plate grotesquely twisted into the shape of a letter S. In 1930 he again led all the way for a 20-length victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, though his task was eased when his main rival, Gib, fell at the second-last. He then went lame and had to miss the Grand National.

Easter Hero started favourite for the 1931 Grand National, but was brought down at second Becher's. He faced the big fences again the very next day in the Champion Chase, but could only dead-heat. The great champion was promptly retired.

John Randall Won Gold Cup in a canter Owner Jock Whitney Trainer Jack Anthony Jockeys Dick Rees, Jack Moloney, Tommy Cullinan Festival wins 1929 Cheltenham Gold Cup, 1930 Cheltenham Gold Cup Other big wins 1926 Molyneux Chase, 1927 Becher Chase, 1928 Coventry Chase, Prix des Drags, 1931 Champion Chase (Liverpool, dead-heat) Ran 40 races over jumps, won 22 What you didn't know His owner was a first cousin of Dorothy Paget What they said about him "Easter Hero, in cantering away with the Cheltenham Gold Cup yesterday, gave one of the most sparkling exhibitions of clean, quick jumping and resolute galloping ever seen on this particular course" - The Sporting Life on his first Gold Cup

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Easter Hero: nearly made all in the National under the huge burden of 12st 7lb
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Feb 25, 2012
Words:614
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