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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April, 2003, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Gifford calls it a day
By Sophie Brown

Josh Gifford
Gifford is one of racing's traditionalists
The Attheraces Gold Cup meeting at Sandown traditionally brings down the curtain on the jumping season - this year it will also mark the final chapter of one of National Hunt's greatest careers.

Josh Gifford MBE has been part of the jumping game for over 40 years - first as a top jockey and later as a leading trainer.

The 61-year-old was champion jockey four times and although he was never crowned top trainer, it is for a feat he achieved as the latter that he will be best remembered.

Gifford trained Aldaniti, winner of the 1981 Grand National in one of racing's great stories.

The Huntingdon-born trainer had nursed Aldaniti back from a career-threatening illness and the horse was ridden to victory at Aintree by jockey Bob Champion, who had himself recovered from cancer.

It provided one of the most emotional moments in the history of the world-famous steeplechase.

Aintree was also a happy hunting ground for Gifford as a jockey - he came second on Honey End in 1967 and never had a fall at the course.

Born: 3 August 1941
First win as jockey: Dorsal (30 July 1956 at Birmingham)
Most wins in a season: 122 in 1966/67
Riding career: 642 wins from 1959-70; champion jump jockey four times
First winner as a trainer: Cheers Echo at Plumpton (16 April 1970)
Most wins in a season: 91 in 1987/88
Training career: 1,587 wins from 1970-2003

Gifford rode his first competitive race on the Flat at the age at 11, weighing in at 4st 6lb, but turned to jumping at the age of 18.

After 642 wins in the saddle, Gifford quit riding at just 28 to begin training from the same yard at Findon, West Sussex, and his biggest win of that decade came when Approaching won the 1978 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup.

He also won the 1978 Christmas Hurdle with Kybo, arguably the best horse he trained but it was in the '80s and early '90s that Gifford established himself as one of the leading trainers around.

During that period, he had a Grand National winner and 10 Cheltenham Festival winners (including Deep Sensation in the 1993 Queen Mother Champion Chase).

He also enjoyed several big handicap wins in the shape of the Whitbread and Mackeson Gold Cups (he won the latter two years running with Bradbury Star) and the Tote Gold Trophy.

In recent years, however, his string has declined from 120 at its peak to about 30.

His last top-class horse was Rouble, the second favourite for the Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle but who was tragically killed in the Cheltenham race.

Rouble's full brother, Kopeck, has shown early promise and may be a future winner for Gifford's son, Nick, who will take over the famous Findon yard on his father's retirement.

When not indulging in his other great passion - cricket - Gifford will still be on hand to help out.

His last runner produced a victory when Skycab won a handicap chase on Attheraces Gold Cup day.

The emotional occasion took the limelight away from the day's feature race, which Gifford had won (when it was known as the Whitbread) in 1982 with Shady Deal.

Ironically, the same race also caused what he has described as his one regret in racing - missing out on a trainers' title - when Desert Orchid's victory resulted in David Elsworth leapfrogging Gifford on the final day of the season in 1988.








Aintree legend bounces back
31 Mar 01  |  Grand National

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