HORSE RACING IS ONE OF THE MOST CULTURALLY SIGNIFICANT AND OLDEST SPORTS THE WORLD STILL ENJOYS TODAY. WHETHER OVER FENCES OR ON THE FLAT, IT IS UNIQUE FOR ITS ABILITY TO UNITE FANS AND SPECTATORS. ITS EFFECT ON CULTURES AND COUNTRIES WORLDWIDE IS APPRECIATED; SO HERE WE HONOUR THESE NOBLE BEASTS THAT ARE THE GREATEST OF THEIR SPECIES AND THE MOST LEGENDARY OF THEIR SPORT – PROVING THAT MIGHTY FEATS OF ATHLETICISM ARE NOT LIMITED TO HUMANITY.
BEST MATE – STEEPLECHASER
Best Mate was owned by Jim Lewis and trained by Henrietta Knight, he was sired by French Stallion, Un Desperado. With three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cup wins 2002, 2003 and 2004 ridden to victory on all three occasions by Jim Culloty. He ‘loved people,’ and captured the hearts of the nation during his career with owner Henrietta Knight commenting, ‘he was the public’s horse.’ Best Mate tragically suffered a heart attack at the William Hill Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter racecourse. Moments after jockey, Paul Carberry pulled him up at the second to last fence, he fell to his knees and rolled. Henrietta Knight reflected, ‘I saw him wobble and I knew immediately that he was dying. I just hoped it would be over quickly.’ His death gripped racing and non racing fans alike who had all come to know Best Mate as a household name with Edward Gillespie managing director of cheltenham racecourse commenting, ‘he had the most impact on the sport of any horse in the last 40 years.’
Best Mate’s staggering track record is testament to the horse that he was, he never once fell at a fence or a hurdle and out of 22 starts he came first in 14 of them and second in seven and broke Escargot’s 31 year record of being the only horse to win the Gold Cup more than once. Today, a bronze statue of Best Mate presides over Cheltenham’s parade ring, while the racecourse’s Best Mate enclosure rekindles memories of his Gold Cup glory days.
RED RUM- STEEPLECHASER
Famous and credited for the revival of the Aintree Race, one of the most iconic races in the world, Red Rum went on to win the Grand National three times, the only horse ever to do so. Becoming a symbol of courage for his winning career on a racetrack described by many as “the ultimate test of a horse’s courage”, his win in 1973 by 30 lengths is considered one of the greatest Grand Nationals in history.
HYPERION- FLAT RACEHORSE
An often-overlooked name, Hyperion was the most successful British bred sire of the 20th century being 6 times Champion of Great Britain between 1940 and 1954, winning the Wartime Triple Crown. The pint sized 15h pocket rocket of ‘beautiful temperament,’ is the smallest horse ever to win a British Classic.
BARBARO- FLAT RACEHORSE
While undefeated at the time and already sporting an array of top honours for the Florida Derby, Holy Bull Stakes and Tropical Park Derby, in 2006 Barbaro rode in the Kentucky Derby and by a staggering 6-1/2 length victory it was the largest win in almost 50 years. Two weeks after this however, he fractured his back leg ending his racing career, eventually leading to his death in 2007 and the establishment of an equine health fund in his honours.
BLACK CAVIAR – FLAT RACEHORSE
A modern legend, Black Caviar is a retired Australian racehorse that was undefeated in over 25 races and named World Champion Sprinter in 2010, 2011 and 2013, the first racehorse trained outside of Europe to be given this award. Foaled in august 2006 she retired in April 2013, her winning record is one unbeaten in over 100 years.
WAR ADMIRAL-FLAT RACEHORSE
Sired by the Legendary Man O’ War, War Admiral was born in Lexington Kentucky in 1934. After a rocky career start of not responding well to the starting gate, the mighty horse quickly overcame his fears and went on to earn his nickname as well as the Triple Crown and Horse of the Year honours in 1937.
PHAR LAP-FLAT RACEHORSE
Phar Lap was a New Zealand bred racehorse that rose to become a national icon of Australian racing. His name derives from the Thai word,: ฟ้าแลบ lit. sky flash or lightening. A true giant, Phar Lap measured a massive 17.1 hands high with his heart weighing in at 13.7 pounds, made even more impressive as the average at that time was approximately just 9 pounds. With a total of 37 wins across 51 races, setting eight track records before a slightly mysterious death in 1932, that many attribute to U.S. gangsters and their illegal bookkeeping.
KAUTO STAR- STEEPLECHASER
Kauto Star was a French bred National Hunt champion racehorse and is ranked by Timeform as the joint third best steeplechase horse in history surpassed onto by Arkle and Flyingbolt. He achieved the highest Racing Post Rating ever awarded. He was trained by legendary trainer Paul Nichols who currently 2567 winners to his name, 110 of these being grade one winners, (11/03/16). He was ridden to victory at the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice in 2007 and 2009 with Ruby Walsh in the saddle. He finished his racing career with a National Hunt Record of £3,775,883 in earnings. On the 30th June 2015, the tragic news of Kauto Star’s death shocked the racing world and the general public alike after a fatal paddock injury. Tributes flooded in from racing bodies such as The Jockey Club, ‘deeply saddened to hear the news about Kauto Star, so many amazing memories of a true champion and incredible athlete,’ and Paul Nicholls himself tweeted, ‘RIP my friend you were a true Legend. Once in a lifetime.’
SEABISCUIT- FLAT RACEHORSE
The Grandson of Man O’ War did not at first show any promise as a racehorse, but under the tutelage of trainer Tom Smith and jockey Red Pollard in 1936, Seabiscuit went on to win 11 of 15 races in 1937, even though Pollard had actually lost an eye that year to training the famous horse. Becoming a national symbol though its popularity and raising the moral of America during the age of depression, his career culminated in a race against his family member War Admiral, another mighty animal in the bloodline of Man O’ War. Seabiscuit won the race dubbed ‘the match of the century’, by an astonishing 4 lengths, breaking the tack record time and inspiring many books and films, most notably the academy award nominated ‘Seabiscuit’.