ALAN KING'S Champion Hurdle hero Katchit has died at the age of ten.
The diminutive gelding made little impression when trained on the Flat by Mick Channon but proved far better when switching disciplines with King at Barbury Castle.
After making an early and successful start in the juvenile ranks at Market Rasen in September 2006, he rose right through the division to end up winner of both the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Aintree equivalent.
Set some stiff tasks in open company as a four and five-year-old, Katchit was to enjoy his crowning moment when beating Osana by a length in the 2008 Champion.
It was to be the final victory for the son of Kalanisi, who was owned by the DSJP Syndicate.
Hindered by injury, he tried stepping up in distance and ran his last race when third to Overturn in the 2011 Coral Hurdle.
Katchit's regular jockey Robert Thornton tweeted: "No words I can write can explain how much the little warrior meant to myself and the team at Barbury. RIP little man."
King's assistant, Noel Williams, tweeted: "Some lovely tributes being paid to Katchit. All I'll say is I had a tear in my eye when he won the Champion and one again now! RIP."
on a more positive note for King, he has one eye on scooping a lucrative bonus for winning at the Cheltenham Festival with Salden Licht following his victory at Plumpton on Sunday.
Having shown smart form over hurdles last season, the nine-year-old built on last month's promising chasing debut second at Hereford by scoring decisively at the second attempt.
Salden Licht landed one of four qualifying novice chases at Plumpton, which means if he does go on to Cheltenham Festival glory this term, he will scoop a further £60,000 as part of an initiative sponsored by broadcasters SIS.
"Hopefully he can keep progressing and it is nice that we now have the option of going for the Cheltenham bonus," said the Barbury Castle handler.
"He would definitely have another run before then anyway and then we'll see about what race he could run in at Cheltenham.
"I'd imagine he'll have a few entries."