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“Cheltenham racecourse” by Carine06 (CC BY-SA 2.0)
“Cheltenham racecourse” by Carine06 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

by CL Cimino

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most prestigious of all National Hunt events. A lot of Britishers come to attend this racing event every year at Cheltenham Racecourse. While a lot of people follow the Cheltenham latest news to keep themselves abreast of all the happenings.

1- Arkle

Arkle is one of the biggest names in the horse racing world. He won many prestigious races in his career but his Cheltenham Gold Cup achievements truly immortalized his name. Timeform has given him the rating of 212 which is the highest ever awarded to a steeplechaser.

When Arkle first entered the Gold Cup in 1964, he was not a well-known racehorse. In fact, he was defeated at Newbury by Mill House in the 1963 Hennessy Gold Cup, and so everyone’s eyes were on the Fulke Walwyn trained racehorse who was regarded as a top favorite to win the race. However, Arkle was determined to win this time as he easily got the better of Mill House by five lengths.

From then on, Arkle started as the favorite for all the races he competed in. The great horse looked unstoppable in the next year’s Gold Cup as he dominated the whole race and emerged victorious by 20 lengths. If this victory was surprising for everyone, then it was nothing compared to the shock and disbelief for all when Arkle registered his third victory in the most emphatic manner. He made the entire race about himself only and won by an unbelievable 30 lengths.

2- Best Mate

Best Mate was universally liked and praised who carved a big name for himself in horse racing. He achieved the incredible feat of winning three back-to-back Gold Cups and included himself in the ranks of Golden Miller, Arkle and Cottage Rake.

He missed the 2001 edition of the race due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. He registered his first victory in 2004 when Looks Like Trouble was the favorite competitor. The next year, he performed the same feat and surprised everyone at Cheltenham.

The 2004 Cheltenham Gold Cup was a big occasion for Best Mate as he had a great opportunity to match Arkle’ record. The Henrietta Knight trained horse started brilliantly but his prospects of victory slimmed in the final stages as Harbour Pilot and Sir Rembrandt got very close to him. However, he held on to claim victory by the slightest of margins.

Best Mate was set to compete in the 2005 Gold Cup, but the great horse burst a blood vessel on the gallops just days before the race and hence he got ruled out. Remarkably, he never fell at a fence and won 14 of the 22 races he competed in. Besides the Gold Cup, he also won Peterborough Chase, King George VI Chase, and Ericsson Chase.

Find more interesting articles in our sections on Horse Racing and Steeplechase.

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