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Cheltenham Festival Legends: Arkle
Tue, Dec 9th, 2014

Arkle was before our time but here are five reasons why he is the best of all-time

1. Arkle was so far ahead of his contemporaries that the handicapping rules had to be amended to allow for his transcendence.

2. In 29 successive races between October 1962 and December 1966 he was defeated only four times: once (1963 Hennessy) after slipping on landing over the third last fence; twice (1964 Massey-Ferguson and 1966 Hennessy) when anchored by crushing weight; and once (1966 King George VI Chase) after galloping for two miles with a broken pedal bone. Only six horses finished in front of him in 26 steeplechases.

3 . However great the weight carried, Arkle won most of his races easily, through fluent jumping and exuberant galloping. His most famous jumping mistake, when he ploughed straight through a fence during the 1966 Gold Cup (he was looking at the crowd), scarcely affected his rhythm.

4. In the 1966 Hennessy, his first race of the season, he was beaten half a length by Stalbridge Colonist, to whom he was conceding 35lb. The next two Cheltenham Gold Cups saw Stalbridge Colonist beaten by three-quarters of a length in 1967 and just over a length in 1968.

5. Work rider Paddy Woods described Arkle as "a saint" and stories abound of his gentle nature. Children were invited to sit on him.

( From Sean Magee in Guardian in 2005)

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