King’s day of joy and despair

alankingTrainer Alan King experienced the highs and lows of racing yesterday, notching up his 1,000th winner over jumps, and learning that one of his star horses, Invictus, may have to be retired.

Some of Britain’s smaller racecourses are enjoying a moment or two in the spotlight, and Southwell will have a special place in King’s heart from now on. He had three runners there, and it was the first of them, Sego Success, who was the landmark winner in the three-mile novice hurdle.

He’ll have another tick in the achievements register with his next winner, which will be his 1,000th jumps winner in Britain. The one outrider since he took out a licence in 1999 is Blazing Bailey, who won at Punchestown five years ago.

King said, “To be honest with you, I didn’t know anything about it. Thankfully the staff have been keeping count. Obviously it is a nice landmark and something to be proud of.”

He looks likely to beat his total of 60 last season, as Sego Success was winner 46 of this campaign. King had hoped that Invictus, who returned to action in the Hennessy Gold Cup on Saturday would help towards that objective, but that now seems very unlikely.

Invictus was making a return to action after 21 months out with a leg injury sustained in preparation for the 2012 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He ran well for a long way in the Hennessy, although faded from the second last, when the severity of the task told on him. King said, “He’s broken down again in the Hennessy. It’s the same leg, but a different place and it’s not looking good. It’s a great shame. He’d run a huge race in the circumstances and now this happens. The owners had shown so much patience and my staff worked ever so hard in getting him back to fitness. It’s all very sad.”

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