It’s not long now until the 2022 edition of the Cheltenham Festival and this year’s renewal promises to be one of the best in recent history, as Prestbury Park is set to open its gates to a full capacity crowd for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic struck in early 2020.
With racegoers starved of action over the last two years, it is no surprise that ticket sales are at an all-time high and that Gold Cup Day sold out faster than ever before!
The showpiece race looks as hard as ever to call this year, with A Plus Tard currently leading the way in the Cheltenham Festival odds. But the likes of Galvin, Minella Indo, Protektorat, Allaho and Al Boum Photo are all in single-figure odds, making it incredibly difficult to know who to back in a race with so much quality.
So, as you ponder over the touch decision of who to back in the highlight contest, let’s take a look back at three legends who have already sealed their fate in horse racing folklore!
A horse so good that he is still well remembered at Cheltenham Racecourse. Best Mate’s ashes are buried next to the winning post at Prestbury Park, while he has a statue and even an enclosure named after him at the iconic venue. He was also introduced to the Cheltenham Festival Hall of Fame in 2007 — two years after his tragic on-course death at Exeter.
All for good reason as well, as the Henrietta Knight-trained horse won three successive renewals of the Gold Cup between 2002 and 2004. In 22 races, Best Mate never fell at a fence or hurdle and racked up some 14 wins — including further Grade 1 triumphs in the King George VI Chase and the Savills Chase.
Considered as one of the best racehorses of all time, Arkle has the highest rating ever awarded to a steeplechaser (212). Named after a mountain in the Scottish Highlands, Arkle had a fantastic career, with major honours including the King George, the Irish Grand National, the Punchestown Gold Cup and the Powers Gold Cup.
It’s his three Gold Cup victories on the trot at the Cheltenham Festival that he is perhaps best known for. The Tom Dreaper-trained horse, who was so often heavily backed in the Gold Cup tips. won the Blue Ribband event in 1964, ’65 and ’66 — lining up for starter’s orders for his hat-trick attempt at 1/10, the lowest ever price for Gold Cup entry.
His jumping wasn’t the most conventional, as he ploughed through a fence, but he still managed to win a third Gold Cup by 30 lengths. A statue of Arkle overlooks the Cheltenham parade ring
Golden Miller achieved the unthinkable in 1934 as he won the Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same year — something no other horse has ever achieved and a feat that will likely never be beaten given that they are two very different races nowadays.
That incredible dual success was right in the middle of the Irish horse’s dominant era at Cheltenham, as he won the Gold Cup five successive times between 1932 and 1936 — another record that seems unbreakable in modern-day racing from the legendary Golden Miller.
The five-time Gold Cup winner also has a statue at Prestbury Park.