Tuesday 26 February 2019

My Fantastic 5 Race Horses

We all have our favourite horses from the years gone by, so I was trying to think back and pick my top five whether it’s on the flat or over the jumps these are the horses that stood out to me.

They may not be the best of all time but they bring back memories of some great horses, so in no particular order here we go. 

1 Istabraq has always been one of my favourite hurdlers born and bred for the flat winning twice in what was a largely disappointing flat campaign. In 1996, he started his jumps career finishing second on his hurdles debut before being gelded and the rest is history. Winning three Champion Hurdles was an amazing feat and I always remember the first when he blitzed the field by an impressive twelve lengths to win at 3/1 but all great things have to come to an end he was retired in 2002 after pulling up in what was to be his final race with a back problem. 

2 Sea the Stars (pictured) has to be in everyone's top five and if not why not. Trained by John Oxx in Ireland and owned by Mr Christopher Tsui, Sea the Stars made his debut at Curragh finishing fourth but running green before putting together an eight-race unbeaten run before retiring at the end of a memorable 2009. First up in what it was an unforgettable treble was the 2000 Guineas, winning by a length and a great price 8/1. Next up was the Derby and I think we all had our doubts whether he would stay the trip but proved the doubters wrong with a fine performance staying on to win by just over a length to make it another brilliant performance by this half brother of Galileo. Completing a famous treble in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown cemented Sea the Stars as one of my favourite horse’s of all time. 

3 Desert Orchid was probably one of my earliest memories of racing, also known as Dessie and loved by his supporters for his never give up attitude and great jumping he actually started off over hurdles winning some decent races before moving up to steeplechasing and taking to it like a duck to water with some great races and lowering the colours of some decent opposition but the one race that stood out for me was the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1989. It was a big step up in distance for the grey who was known as a two-miler so to win the Gold Cup over 3 miles 2 furlongs is unbelievable, but he did it by digging deep in the heavy going even though jockey Simon Sherwood said after the race he hated every minute of it in that ground, so that made it an even better achievement. When he finally retired in 1991 his record stood at 34 wins from 70 races and for me, that's definitely worth being in my top 5. 

4 Best Mate won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, in 2002, 2003, and 2004 so with Cheltenham just around the corner he has to get a mention, ridden for most of his races by Jim Culloty and trained by Miss H C Knight, Best Mate won 14 races out of 22 starts in what was an amazing record and to add to that never fell at a hurdle or fence but after all the high points was the low point and I remember it well, on his 22nd start in 2005 he pulled up and collapsed after suffering a heart attack in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter racecourse but I will always have great memories of this warrior. 

5 Frankel is the best of the best for me and if you haven't seen the Trainer and the Racehorse well you need to watch it now with some tissues at the ready, I just loved the way he could adapt his style whether it was being held up or simply just making all and taking the piss out of some top class horses. Tom Queally was the luckiest man alive to have ridden him 14 times and winning all which included ten Group 1 race. After winning everything in sight he was retired for stud in 2012 and producing winner after winner and sure there is more to come in the near future. Well, that's my five great horses and would love to see yours.

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