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Friday, 19 October, 2018

Champion Chase and King George hero Edredon Bleu dies age 26

Edredon Bleu: Winner of the 2000 Champion Chase at Cheltenham
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Henrietta Knight has paid heartfelt tribute to hugely popular and top-class chaser Edredon Bleu following his death at the age of 26.

Owned by Jim Lewis, like triple Gold Cup winner and stablemate Best Mate, Edredon Bleu won the two-mile Queen Mother Champion Chase and the King George VI Chase over three miles in a memorable era for Knight and her late husband Terry Biddlecombe.

He was retired at the age of 13 in 2005, the winner of 25 races and more than £730,000 in prize-money, and spent his remaining years with former champion jockey Graham Thorner.

"He was put down on Friday," said former trainer Knight. "He was coming up on 27 and he had one or two problems; it was much kinder to put him down – he had a few sores which couldn't heal up, they don't when they're older.

"He had a wonderful life with Graham Thorner, who really looked after him well. He was very happy and Graham was very good to him. It's great when horses have a good life after racing."

For all his subsequent achievements, Edredon Bleu did not make a great start after moving to West Lockinge Farm in Wantage as a four-year-old.

"We were very disappointed when he first came," recalled Knight. "We were told he was this wonder horse coming over from France – he'd won four novice chases as a four-year-old – but he was very narrow and looked very light.

Henrietta Knight: not impressed with Edredon Bleu in his early days
"And when we ran him it was a complete disaster in his first season. I remember Richard Dunwoody riding him in a two-mile chase at Ayr and getting off him and saying he didn't think he was any good at all and couldn't even jump.

"But he had a very good summer and acclimatised. A lot of French horses take longer to acclimatise than people realise."

Edredon Bleu was a revelation in his second British season, which culminated in him landing the 1998 Grand Annual Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, where he won the Champion Chase two years later.

He was ridden by Sir Anthony McCoy both times, and Knight said: "I talked to AP about him on Friday and he said that the amazing thing about him was that he still jumped fences in the French style, very low but very quick away from them – as soon as he landed he was gone.

"AP was the absolute master on him because he just galvanised him and dared him all the time."


EDREDON BLEU IN NUMBERS

26 Age

57 Races

25 Wins

3 Grade 1 wins

£731,065 Earnings

172 Highest Racing Post Rating


Edredon Bleu's final big win came when he sprang a 25-1 surprise in the King George at Kempton under Jim Culloty in 2003.

"Terry always said he'd stay three miles and I said, 'Don't be stupid,' but he was right," said Knight.

"He was amazing, he made virtually all the running. He loved being in front – he hated being behind horses, he got disappointed."

Edredon Blue scores an 'amazing' King George win


Three great wins

Queen Mother Champion Chase, Cheltenham 2000

Looked in serious danger when headed by Direct Route 100 yards out but rallied valiantly to get back up close home.

Ladbrokescasino.com Championship Chase, Sandown 2001

Jumped brilliantly, made all and battled on gamely to hold Fadalko off by a short head.

Pertemps King George VI Chase, Kempton 2003

The 25-1 shot who had never previously won at beyond two miles five furlongs allayed stamina fears as he made most to score by a game length and a quarter.

Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com

He had a wonderful life with Graham Thorner, who really looked after him well
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