'Marvellous' Katchit has special place in Alan King's heart

Katchit on his way to winning the 2008 Champion Hurdle

It is often said the best things come in small packages, a remark that is certainly true of 2008 Champion Hurdle hero Katchit.

Standing no higher than 16 hands, the Alan King-trained gelding had a heart that was far larger than his diminutive stature - as racegoers at Prestbury Park witnessed 10 years ago.

Enjoying the perfect preparation with victory in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, the son of Kalanisi displayed the best of his battling qualities in the Cheltenham showpiece to defeat Osana by a length, becoming the first five-year-old to oblige since See You Then in 1985.

King said: "I think it is a bit of a blur. I felt going into Champion Hurdle day that we could finish in the first four. I didn't think we could really win it. It was one of those great days, but I would love to win it again. I've watched the race once after and not again since.

"He was a marvellous horse. He was just tough. It is definitely up there with my best winners and we will never forget him.

"In those days we were flying and we were having two or three winners at Cheltenham every year and I thought this job was easy, but you realise it is not.

"I think I was numb and I would enjoy it a lot more now, as the older you get the more you learn to appreciate the big days."

King went on:"He loved jumping and had a huge heart. Him and Choc (Robert Thornton) just gelled. For a 16-hand horse, he had some scope and he could stand a mile off a hurdle and it was effortless.

"What he lacked in natural ability, he probably made up for in his jumping ability and his heart."

Despite being only moderate on the Flat, with just a Salisbury handicap to his name from 14 starts, the former Mick Channon-trained runner had already given a glimpse of the heights he could reach with victory in the Triumph Hurdle 12 months earlier.

King said: "He was a very good juvenile and one of the most impressive winners of the Triumph Hurdle you will see.

"He surprised me from day one really. I saw him win his only Flat race at Salisbury. I didn't quite buy him that afternoon, but I bought him the next morning off Mick Channon and Tim Corby.

"He looked even smaller when he arrived. The first morning we schooled him, he was unbelievably good. He loved it from day one. He debuted at Market Rasen in September and it was £13,000 to the winner. He won that and I thought 'I've done it in one hit'.

"He followed up at Chepstow and he was beaten at Wetherby, that was the only time he was beaten that season and he then just went from strength to strength.

"I kept saying I had three or four better juveniles than him and one by one they dropped away. I thought he would be a fun early juvenile, but he turned out to be a bit better than that."

Colic sadly claimed the life of Katchit, but he has a special place at Barbury Castle Stables, where his spirit will live on forever.

King said: "We were trying to bring him back, but he died of colic and it was a huge loss to everyone.

"He is buried at Barbury and there are only four of them that are. There is him, Viking Flagship, Balder Succes and my old hack Castle Sweep.

"The special ones come back home and he is always there looking over the yard."