Cheltenham 2002: Persian War

The Legends - No 3
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The best horse ever trained in Wales was the third to win three Champion Hurdles (1968-70) and the one who has, up to this year, come closest to winning four. He was one of the most resolute horses to look through a bridle, shrugging off a respiratory problem, illnesses and injuries to win 19 from 51 over hurdles. His total may have been more but for his capricious owner, Henry Alper, who kept switching trainers and devising foolhardy plans for his star. Colin Davis managed to keep hold of the horse for all three of his titles. Alper had seen Persian War win a race on television, decided he wanted him and bought him for £9,000. It was the highest price ever paid for a hurdler but a bargain nonetheless. Decked in the claret and blue of his owner's other love, West Ham United, Persian War's exploits included winning the 1967 Triumph Hurdle; carrying a record 11st 13lb to victory in the Schweppes Gold Trophy; and winning the Lonsdale Hurdle at Kempton under 12st 7lb. He won his first two Champions by four lengths, led all the way to win by a length in 1970 and went down with honour to Bula in 1971.