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Cheltenham hero trained near Tarleton
18 March 2009
The horse who made headlines by winning the Cheltenham Champion Hurdles as a 22-1 outsider was born to be a star, his former owner says.

Captain Jim Wilson bred and trained Punjabi on his farm in Sollom, near Tarleton, before selling him to renowned trainer Nicky Henderson two years ago.

He was "elated" when the six-year-old won last week's famous race, delighting bookies by beating 6-4 favourite Binocular.

"I was exhausted, I felt like I rode him the last mile myself," he said.

"I was at home watching it by the fire and I was absolutely thrilled to bits.  I couldn't believe he was 22-1 - he should have been 5-1, not that I'm complaining because I won enough to take all the family out for a good meal, and a bit more besides."

Captain Wilson, 82, began breeding horses while in the Army and has spent 43 years breeding in Sollom. He named Punjabi after his forces nickname - so dubbed because he grew up in India.

"There are so many reasons why we knew he could be a winner," said Captain Wilson, who also bred former Ascot winner Red Rosein.

"The breeding was there and when he arrived you could tell by the way he moved.  He was a very likable horse and when we started to train him he always tried to do his best.  He was never acting the giddy goat.

"We could tell he was a bit special."

Punjabi won four races on the flat before the family decided to sell him to Nicky Henderson to train him for jumps.

Daughter Geraldine Rees, who helped train Punjabi, was also the first female jockey to finish the Grand National in 1982.

By Natasha Robson

 


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