One of the best, and most popular, sports in the world has to be horse racing. Both the UK and USA are home to some historically important race courses and events — may of which are still run today. Both countries have great legacies when it comes to horse racing, including trainers, owners, jockeys and the horses themselves. But who are the best horses from each country?
Here are the top British and American race horses to know.
One of the best of his time, Arkle is known as the first superstar of thoroughbred horse racing. Both an incredible contender in hurdle and national hunt races, he won, with jockey Pat Taafe, the Cheltenham Gold Cup at Cheltenham Festival for three consecutive years, between 1964 and 1966. He also scored on some of the most important steeple chases to exist across the UK and Ireland, including the Hennessy Gold Cup, the Irish Gran National and of course the King George VI Chase.
He was described by late racing commentator as ‘a freak of nature’. His legacy has lasted long since his death. In 1994, he was posthumously inducted into the British Steeplechasing Hall of Fame and in 1981 the Republic of Ireland awarded him his own stamp. He was even sung about by musician Dominic Behan, who wrote a track about the famous race horse called, aptly, ‘Arkle’.
Foaled in 1965, Red Rum was a bay gelding who began his racing career in 1968 — and has gone on to become one of the most famous race horses in British history. Originally trained to race over short distances, he is the only steeple chase contender to win the Grand National at Aintree three times — in 1973, 1974 and 1977. Interestingly, Red Rum had a physical disadvantage. He suffered from bone disease in his foot. During his retirement he participated in the opening of supermarkets, appeared on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year broadcast and even switched on the Blackpool Illuminations.
Upon his passing in 1995, he was buried at the winning post at the famous Aintree Racecourse, where he had his incredible record-making wins.
In the USA, Man O’War is still described as one of the greatest race horses of all time. Debuting as a two-year old in 1919 at the Sanford Memorial Stakes, he made second place even after being last off the starting line and being rode by an inexperienced jockey. He didn’t lose a day from then on. He won the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1920. He was retired in 1920 after his three-year-old season and became an incredibly prolific sire for many other famous race horses in North America, including his grandson Seabiscuit. Man O’War is still recognised for his legacy on the horse racing scene, with a life-size statue at the Kentucky Horse Park, Man O’War Boulevard in Lexington and the Man O’War Stakes, which are run annually at Belmont Park in remembrance of one of the greatest US racing horses of all time.
Seabiscuit is one of those race horses whose legacy has gone well beyond the racing circuit. Inspiring artists and biographers, the iconic American race horse has an incredible tale. Starting of unsuitable for a racing career became famous after meeting trainer Tom Smith, who believed in his horse so much that the small colt was soon transformed into a legend. Between the years 1937 to 1940 Seabiscuit won a series of America’s biggest races, including the Hollywood Gold Cup. In 1938 he was named Horse of the Year, and two films have been made retelling his incredible story.