The late Fred Thomas Winter CBE, who died in April, 2004, aged 77, first turned his attention to training at Uplands Stables, in Upper Lambourn, near Newbury, Berkshire in 1964 with just five horses. However, despite a hesitant start to his training career, Winter had the distinction of winning the Grand National with his first two runners in the world-famous steeplechase, Jay Trump in 1965 and Anglo in 1966.
In 1970/71, Winter saddled 73 winners and won over £60,000 in prize money to become just the second man since World War II – after Fred Rimell – to be crowned Champion Jockey and Champion Trainer. In fact, Winter would retain the trainers’ championship in all bar one of the next seven seasons, only losing out to Rimell in 1975/76, and would win it again in 1984/85, for what was, at that point, a record eighth time.
At the Cheltenham Festival in 1971, Winter saddled Bula to win the Champion Hurdle and Crisp – better remembered as the horse caught in the dying strides by Red Rum in the Grand National two years later – to win the Two-Mile Champion Chase, in the days before it was renamed in honour of the late Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, a.k.a. The Queen Mother.
The following year, Bula won the Champion Hurdle again, Pendil won the Arkle Challenge Trophy and Soloning won the now-defunct Cathcart Challenge Cup, a race Winter would win seven times in total during his training career. Later that year, Pendil won the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day but, back at Cheltenham in 1973, suffered an agonising defeat when, having led over the final fence in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, he was caught in the shadow of the post and beaten a short-head by The Dikler.
Winter did, however, saddle the brilliant, but ill-fated, Killiney to win the Totalisator Champion Chase – now the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase – by 25 lengths or so, while Pendil gain some recompense for his Gold Cup defeat when winning the King George VI Chase for the second year running. Other Cheltenham Festival highlights included winning the Champion Hurdle again, with Lanzarote in 1974 and, finally, after several near-misses, the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Midnight Court in 1978.