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Horse Racing: Nicholson pays tribute to 'brilliant' Relkeel.

RELKEEL, one of the most talented British hurdlers of the modern era, was yesterday hailed as "ability-wise, the best horse I ever trained" by David Nicholson following the horse's death at the age of 17, writes Lee Mottershead.

The winner of three consecutive Bula Hurdles, Relkeel became renowned for overcoming injury to post emotional victories, most notably when winning his third Bula for Alan King and Richard Johnson in 1999. He was put down last week due to the effects of arthritis.

Nicholson, who trained Relkeel for his previous two Bula wins and for a 1995 success in the Haydock Park Champion Hurdle Trial, last night heaped praise on a horse who raced for the late Brigadier Roscoe Harvey, and won a total of 12 races, nine under Adrian Maguire.

"Ability-wise he was better than any other horse I ever trained," said Nicholson. "He had awesome ability. His body was fragile, but his engine was superb.

"On his day he was brilliant, and had he not suffered the problems that affected his career he would have won the Champion Hurdle, there's no doubt about that.

"He once got a leg two days before the Champion and on another occasion he broke his ileum, which is something to do with the pelvis. Amazingly, however, he kept coming back from his injuries - in fact, he won his third Bula Hurdle on just a quarter of a preparation."

Following his retirement, Relkeel was looked after by Nicholson's former head groom Mark White, who played a huge part in the horse's career, having first broken him in before becoming the gelding's sole rider at home. White, who was too upset to talk about Relkeel's death, described the son of Relkino's third Bula victory as "sheer ecstasy".
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 7, 2006
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