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Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

'He was a great champion, the best Flat horse trained in Britain in the 1960s'

John Randall analyses the best horses from 50 years ago

Busted: "the best Flat horse trained in Britain in the 1960s"
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FLAT 1967

Busted (rated 133)

The best Flat horse in Europe 50 years ago was Busted, a four-year-old who breezed home in the Eclipse and King George. He had been transferred to Noel Murless as a galloping companion to Royal Palace, but proved much too good for that role and easily won all his four races that season.

Having landed the Coronation (now Brigadier Gerard) Stakes, he returned to Sandown as Murless's second-string (behind champion filly Fleet) in the Eclipse and scored decisively.

Seven days later, Busted trounced his King George rivals. Towards the rear turning for home, he produced a devastating burst and came home three easy lengths clear of Salvo.

His prep race for the Arc, the Prix Henri Foy, was an exercise canter, and he would have won the Arc itself had he not broken down nine days before. In his absence, Salvo nearly won it.

Busted was arguably a great champion, the best Flat horse trained in Britain in the 1960s. He was also an outstanding sire, with Bustino and Mtoto among his sons.

Royal Palace (rated 131) was the best of the Classic generation, triumphing in the first 2,000 Guineas and Derby with starting stalls, and contributing to that annus mirabilis for Murless and stable jockey George Moore. Champion miler Reform beat him into third place in the Champion Stakes.

The champion sprinter was Peter O'Sullevan's Be Friendly and there was a vintage crop of two-year-olds, notably Sir Ivor, Petingo and Vaguely Noble.

JUMPS 1967

Fort Leney (rated 171)

There was an air of anticlimax on the jumping scene in 1967, with Arkle having just sustained a career-ending injury and Flyingbolt struck down by illness. With the two greatest steeplechasers of all time out of action, the best performance over fences was recorded by Fort Leney, their Tom Dreaper stablemate.

Fort Leney won only one of his three races during the calendar year, but that was when carrying 12st 4lb and running away with the Leopardstown Chase by 15 lengths in spectacular style in February.

Fort Leney: won at Leopardstown by 15 lengths under a huge weight

Repetition of that form would have won him the Cheltenham Gold Cup, for which he started favourite, but he made several blunders and was never in the race, coming sixth behind Woodland Venture. The only finisher he beat was Foinavon, victor of an infamous Grand National three weeks later. Fort Leney made amends by winning the following year's Gold Cup, at last reproducing his brilliant Irish form.

A popularity contest would have been won by Mill House, the champion in 1963 but later humbled by Arkle. He fell when in the lead in the 1967 Gold Cup but had one last glorious moment in the sun with a front-running triumph under 11st 11lb in the Whitbread.

The pick of a moderate bunch of hurdlers was the Queen Mother's Makaldar (rated 166), but he was past his best that season when runner-up to Saucy Kit in the Champion Hurdle. Persian War, the Triumph Hurdle winner, was the rising star.


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With the two greatest steeplechasers of all time out of action, the best performance over fences was recorded by Fort Leney

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