Since the Cheltenham Festival is near, gossip is already starting to take shape. Native River is the defending champion of the Gold Cup, but his performances in the Betfair Chase and King George VI Chase were less than perfect.
So does that mean Pat Kelly’s Presenting Percy is likely to lift the trophy at the Cheltenham Gold Cup? After all, the seven-year-old has already won at the last two Cheltenham Festivals. And what about Thistlecrack and Clan Des Obeaux? How much a chance do they have for the Cheltenham Gold Cup?
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The legendary Arkle needs no introduction for any racing fan. He is undoubtedly the greatest steeplechaser of all time and has the Timeform rating of 212. Winning 3 consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups is his greatest achievement.
Arkle’s popularity soared when he beat Mill House in the 1964 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Mill House, at that time, was the previous year’s Gold Cup winner and had outpaced Arkle at Newbury to win the 1963 Hennessy Gold Cup for himself. However, Arkle got the best of Mill House at the Gold Cup and won the race by 5 lengths.
The following year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup race saw even a bigger victory for Arkle over Mill House. That time he named the competition to himself by an incredible 20 lengths. His popularity by that time had increased a great deal and he had become a household name among the UK public.
He registered his third trophy in 1966. Most amazingly, he won the race by 30 lengths despite making a mistake early in the race. Soon he suffered a huge injury and left his racing career for good.
2- Kauto Star
Kauto Star might not be as popular as Arkle, still, the Clive Smith’s horse is quite a big name in the horse racing world. He won many important races during his career spanning eight years. He won King George VI Chase for an incredible 5 times besides also winning the Betfair Chase, Aon Chase, and Ascot Chase.
He entered the 2007 Gold Cup as a top favorite after winning that season’s Betfair Chase and King George VI Chase. The competition was tough with Exotic Dancer and Tupin Green in the race but he managed to win by 2 ½ lengths in the end.
However, the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup saw a big defeat to Kauto Star. Denman, the winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup, Lexus Chase and Aon Chase that season, got the better of Kauto Star to win by 7 lengths.
The perfect revenge for Kauto Star arrived the next year as he inflicted a crushing defeat to his rival. An incredible 13 lengths was the difference between Kauto Star and his rival. Timeform has described this victory as ‘arguably the best performance in the race since Arkle’.
3- Golden Miller
Golden Miller was the first horse to win 4 consecutive Gold Cups. Then, Arkle achieved a similar feat by lifting the coveted trophy for 3 consecutive times. It looked like no modern horse would be able to achieve such a target until Best Mate changed that perception in 2004. He also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup for 3 consecutive times.
With Andrew Thornton’s Sir Rembrandt and Paul Carberry’s Harbour Pilot in the race, Best Mate had an intensely difficult contest in the 2004 Gold Cup. However, he managed to pull off the victory in the end. With this victory, Best Mate got himself among the ranks of Arkle and Golden Miller.