The world of horse racing was saddened by the news on Wednesday that popular breeder and owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum passed away at the age of 75.
A 9-time champion Flat owner, Sheikh Hamdan was best known for the likes of Battaash, Nashwan and Invasor, the loss of such a high-profile figure in the sport will without doubt leave a void.
Especially after Frankel owner Prince Khalid Abdullah’s death in January and the recent loss of Cheveley Park Stud boss David Thompson.
Additionally, the multiple Classic and Royal Ascot successor once owned a certain Istabraq, who was formerly in training with John Gosden on the flat between ’94-96 before switching to hurdling for Aidan O’Brien.
With the jockey aboard now donning the infamous green and gold silks of JP McManus, Istabraq recorded four wins at the Cheltenham Festival – including three Champion Hurdle’s.
A legend of the National Hunt game despite starting his career in the opposite code, Istabraq is one of many flat contenders to have made the switch.
But how many have enjoyed equal, or more, success over obstacles?
We’ve identified 5 of our leading lights who have swapped the sunny world of Tattenham Corner for the autumn vibes of Prestbury Park.
After a fair few efforts on the flat, the late Dessie Hughes sent the son of Jeremy over timber for the first time at Navan in November 2012.
A decision that would prove mostly just, Our Conor became a dual Grade 1 winning novice hurdler and was one of the most impressive winners of the Triumph Hurdle in recent memory.
The sight of him flying the last on the new course under Bryan Cooper on a gloomy Gloucestershire Gold Cup Friday will provide happy memories for many.
He reverted back to the Flat at Naas to kickstart his career in open company, before valiant efforts behind the legendary Hurricane Fly at Leopardstown.
Sadly, a fatal injury after a fall in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2014 robbed racing of one of its beloved stars, who gave joy to supporters of both codes in equal measure.
Another sadly no longer with us, Wicklow Brave tasted wins at the highest level of both the jump and flat worlds.
A Cheltenham Festival winner under Paul Townend, the loveable Willie Mullins type perhaps shocked many the most when downing 1/7 hotshot Order Of St George in the Irish St Leger at the Curragh under Frankie Dettori in 2016.
How about that for flexible?
His preparation run for the Champion Hurdle would arrive in the Melbourne Cup, and he would head over fences as a 10-year-old where he recorded a 100% strike-rate.
After our recent interview with Max McNeill, we couldn’t miss Grumeti off the list.
A winner as a chaser and hurdler, and on both the turf and all-weather, the dynamic Alan King trained gelding was as versatile as they come.
He won a Grade One at Aintree as a juvenile after his beating of future Champion Chaser Dodging Bullets in the Dovecote at Kempton.
Twice a winner for Michael Bell when starting his career, he would also enjoy a 50-1 victory in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket – 9 months after winning a novice chase at Plumpton.
A remarkable career.
Unsurprisingly, another juvenile who enjoyed success in the Triumph after a few spins on the flat.
Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, Kribensis gave Sheikh Mohammed his first taste of Cheltenham Festival glory when landing the Grade 1 event for 4-year-olds after his owner dabbled in the National Hunt game.
He had runs at Ayr, Salisbury and Sandown before taking to timber, and would become the first horse to win the Fighting Fifth, Christmas Hurdle and Champion Hurdle in the same season under usual pilot Richard Dunwoody.
The same maroon-and-white silks were carried past the post in the Dewhurst, Dubai World Cup and and Breeders Cup – but there’s nothing like a winner at the Festival, is there?
WHO DARES WINS
Formerly with Richard Hannon, Who Dares Wins is another versatile Alan King contender who superbly landed both a Grade 2 chase and Royal Ascot win within the space of four months last campaign.
Whether it’s Tom Marquand or Tom Cannon on his back, and be it Newmarket or Cheltenham, this battle-hardened gelding always runs his race whether he’s leaping over obstacles or not.
He’s had a few cracks on the all-weather to no avail so far this season.
But how many other horses can say they’ve won a Summit Juvenile Hurdle and Northumberland Plate?
Few I’d fathom.