The National hunt season is now in full swing as the top connections focus their attentions to March at the key races at the Cheltenham festival. There have been so many champions that have showcased their talent their on the biggest stage from Arkle to Sprinter Sacre more recently. So which are the Greatest National hunt horses of the past?
It is hard to analyse champions from different eras but there is no doubting Arkle rates as one of the greatest if not the greatest horse in the history of national hunt racing. Arkle was awarded the highest mark of any steeplechaser by time form at 212 which only begins to tell the picture of the true icon of the game.
Arkle was in the era of another great in Mill House which is why he was able to prove his true ability as following a defeat in the 1963 Hennessy Gold cup he dominated his rival.
Winning top graded races is seen as the pinnacle of the sport but Arkle truly demonstrated his ability by carrying huge weights in top handicaps giving stones away to other champions and still winning. The true feat of a racing legend. The prime example of this was in the 1965 Gallagher Gold Cup as Arkle conceded Mill House 16lb while breaking the course record by an astonishing 17 seconds.
Flying Bolt is the only horse to get near the ratings of Arkle with a mark of 210. Amazingly enough the horse was also trained by the same trainer as Arkle which is why they were never able to race against each other as they were kept apart at all costs.
The gelding was another superstar to give vast amounts of weight away to rivals but still win. The Thyestes Handicap chase was his finest performance where he carried top weight beating Height O’Fashion by over 30 lengths while giving the horse 28lbs. With the third Flying Wild another 25 lengths back having received 29lbs. Flying Bolt was a true champion in his own right.
The greatest horse in the modern era is the imperious Sprinter Sacre. The horse was blighted by health problems so was retired in 2015/16. The true beast that he was meant he went two seasons without victory but returned to the top winning four in a row that included the Champion chase which was one of the most satisfying results to fans and supporters of the horse.
At his best he was described by Nicky Henderson as ‘almost invincible’ shown in the Queen Mother Champion chase in the 2012/13 season as he beat a champion in his own right Sizing Europe effortlessly. Sprinter cruised round on the bridle winning by 19 lengths without even being pushed out showcasing himself as one of the most elegant and dominating champions in history. What makes it ever more amazing about the horse is that he was bought as part of a ‘job lot’ of 22 French horses for just 300,000 euros. You can check out the latest horse racing predictions ahead of the 2018 edition of the Champion Chase as one of the most anticipated clashes is set to take place between Altior and Douvan.
The last horse to make the select list has to be the mighty Kauto Star. With a time form high rating of 191 he is only eclipsed by those above him in this list. However in terms of achievements he rates as the best. He was one of the most iconic champions who would continue to contest and dominate in the top staying chases. Kauto Star finished his career having won 23 of his 41 starts and amassed and incredible £3,775,883 in prize money.
The two time Cheltenham Gold cup winner is renowned for his stunning comeback to dethrone stable rival Denman in the 2009 edition of the race. He also won the King George VI Chase at Kempton a record 5 times and is now regarded as one of the most successful steeplechasers of the modern era.
Kauto’s incredibly dominating performances meant there has now been a Stayers Chase Triple crown named after him known as the ‘Kauto Star Triple Crown’. There is where connections of a horse that is able to win the Betfair Chase, King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup will be given a £1 million bonus. No horse has been successful in this yet but Cue Card came so close having travelled up into the lead in the Gold Cup. The latest horse racing odds have the quirky but incredibly talented Might Bite as the favourite ahead of the King George.