Nicky Henderson’s El Kaldoun was a landmark winner for racehorse ownership syndicate Middleham Park Racing at Lingfield as it brought up their 1000th success.
Well established as the most successful syndicate in the UK, Middleham Park was launched in 1995 by Tim Palin – who is still a driving force to this day, with Mike Prince having joined as a partner.
They could not really have chosen a better horse to begin life with because their original runner, China Castle, went on to win 26 times – and they now have more than 100 in training.
With Group One wins in three countries, they are the living proof that the regular man in the street can taste big-time glory in the sport of kings.
Palin said: “There’s a bit of symmetry there, with our first winner coming on the all-weather and our 1000th.
“We owe an awful lot of thanks to Patrick Haslam, who put a lot of trust in us with China Castle, but we also got lucky because he held the record for wins on the all-weather until recently.
“I always describe it as a hobby that has just got out of hand, and that is exactly what it is – it never feels like work when you are on a racecourse.
“We’ve had great success, three Group One winners (Ventura Storm, G Force and Toormore) and we’re really trying to expand our National Hunt section.”
He added: “We’ve had Cheltenham Festival winners, Royal Ascot winners and gone close in a Classic with Ventura Storm in the St Leger. But that’s the one thing we’d love – a Classic winner.
“Royal Ascot Racing Club pulled it off with Motivato, but it is getting harder and harder as a syndicate because Godolphin and Coolmore keep raising the bar.
“We’ll keep trying, though. I love nothing better than seeing our members smiling after a winner – that is what this game is all about.
“Traditionally this is a game for rich men, and the horses are rich men’s toys, and we’re trying to bring it to the man in the street.
“It’s a real red-letter day for Middleham Park, but we do have an awful lot to thank Pat Haslam and China Castle for.”
His son, Tom, manages the National Hunt arm of the operation these days – and he believes El Khaldoun is a very smart prospect.
“He’s still a big baby, but we’ve always liked him. He’s probably only had one piece of work at home, but he’ll come on a ton.
“He’s a horse Mr Henderson holds if not in the highest regard, certainly highly, and he’s got a bright future.
“Whether we go over hurdles next or stay in bumpers, I’m not sure. The path is almost written for us because Didtheyleaveuoutto won this race last year and went for the Listed bumper at Ascot, so that is an option – or we might stick eight flights of hurdles in front of him.”