The Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner and racing fans are counting down the days until the greatest racing show on earth. Four-days of top-class jump action await, with the feature race of the Festival being the Cheltenham Gold Cup run on the Friday. Run over 3 miles and 2 furlongs with 22 fences to jump, it’s the premier race on the National Hunt calendar and this year sees the Willie Mullins trained Al Boum Photo back to defend his title having won the race in 2019 and 2020. A third success in the race would see Al Boum Photo become just the fourth horse ever to take triple Gold Cup victory. As Al Boum Photo prepares for his date with Festival destiny, we take a closer look at the three horses he’s trying to emulate – arguably, the three best Cheltenham Gold Cup winners ever.
The three triple Gold Cup winners
One of the greatest National Hunt horses of all time, Golden Miller isn’t just a triple Gold Cup winner, he actually won the Cheltenham Gold Cup a record five times between 1932 to 1936.
The most famous of his victories was in 1934 when he went on to make history by also winning the Grand National, breaking the course record at Aintree, and becoming the first horse to land the Gold Cup and National double.
He retired in 1939 having won 29 of his 52 career races and his record of five Cheltenham Gold Cup wins is likely to remain unmatched. A legend of the Festival, there is a statue of the great horse next to the parade ring at Cheltenham.
A horse so good, the Cheltenham Festival named a race after him. Arkle is one of the best and greatest Gold Cup winners in history.
The Irish-trained Arkle landed his first Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1964 in a UK v Ireland clash against Mill House, in a contest that truly captured the attention of both racing fans and the general public. Having seen off Mill House, Arkle returned to defend his Gold Cup title in 1965 and 1966 before his career was curtailed by injury.
He retired after 27 wins from 35 races, including two victories in the King George, and the Irish Grand National and was awarded the highest ever Timeform rating of 212, putting him well ahead of modern-day greats such as Sprinter Sacre on 192 and Kauto Star on 191.
For many, he’s the greatest racehorse we’ve ever seen.
A new century brought a new Cheltenham Gold Cup hero, and the most recently triple winner, in Best Mate.
Trained by Henrietta Knight, Best Mate won the Gold Cup in 2002, 2003, and 2004 and, with a little more luck, could have gone close to emulating Golden Miller. The Cheltenham Festival in 2001 was abandoned due to the foot and mouth crisis, and 2005 saw Best Mate withdrawn from the race in the run-up to the Festival due to injury
His hat-trick of Gold Cup wins emulated the great Arkle and saw Best Mate seal his place as a jumps racing legend in his own right, becoming just the third horse in history to achieve the feat.
In a 22 race career, Best Mate won 14 times and amassed over £1 million in prize money before a sad ending in 2005 Racing at Exeter in the Haldon Gold Cup, he died from a suspected heart attack having been pulled up by jockey Paul Carberry.
Following his death, his ashes were scattered at the finishing post at Cheltenham – a fitting legacy for a Festival great.
You could earn up to £100 (or currency equivalent) in bonus funds by joining Colossus with our New Player Bonus. Click here to join the action.