I may love horses but racing is what I am really passionate about. Watching those beasts fascinates me and is a rush like no other. Naturally I am a student of its history, as well. I felt like being self-indulgent today, and this post is a list I have compiled of my favorite horses.
Historically, Eclipse has to be one of my favorites. The ”great-grandson” on his dam’s side of the Godolphin Arabian, Eclipse is quite possibly the best racehorse of the 18th century. He won all 18 races in his career and was the inspiration behind the popular racing phrase, “[leader] first, the rest nowhere.” It is estimated that his bloodline runs through nearly all current thoroughbreds.
While Man o’ War was foaled in Kentucky, his mother was sired by a British Triple Crown Champion. His handicap at age two was more than many horses ever carry, regardless of age. He lost only one race and set several track records. After winning an impressive and undefeated 11 times in a season, this champion was entered at stud. He successfully produced several winners as well, including the sire of another well-known American, Seabiscuit. By 1966, 37% of stakes winners in the U.S. were sired by Man o’ War, and he can be found in the bloodline of the many successful racehorses even today, including the 2015 triple crown winner, American Pharoah. I thoroughly enjoy the idea that British Thoroughbred bloodlines are still so dominant, even across the pond.
Another horse I love was Nijinsky. This Canadian-born horse was the son of a Kentucky Derby winner. Trained in Ireland, he won the English Triple Crown, a feat that had not been accomplished in 35 years, and has not been replicated since. This outstanding horse was named the Leading sire here in 1986 as well as the Leading bloodmare sire (as Nijinsky II) in North America—a title he won back to back two years in a row.
If Red Rum wasn’t on the list of best horseracers in history before the Grand National in 1973, his comeback win certainly cemented his notoriety. Although he was bred for one mile races, he was able to win national titles at much longer distances. A beloved celebrity, Red Rum lead the Grand National parade for many years after he suffered a hairline fracture and was retired. His spirit and his feats on the track have not been forgotten by Britons.
Then there is Arkle, was able to interest even non-racing enthusiasts, becoming an Irish legend. The story goes that during his racing career, he received huge quantities of fan mail—mostly addressed to “Himself,” as he was such the household name. His 212 rating from Timeform is amazing, and the highest given to a steeplechaser. He was such a competitor that Irish racing authorities had to create two weight systems just to accommodate for his speed and domination on the track.
This is just a short list of horses that have made me glad to be a fan of this sport.