What are some of the best horses ever?

What are some of the best horses ever? Every generation of racehorses produces it own outstanding performers but, from time to time, horses capture the public imagination in a way that transcends generations and achieve almost legendary status. Arkle, for example, is best remembered for winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup three years running in 1964, 1965 and 1966, but has since become the benchmark against which every steeplechaser is measured. Likewise, in the sphere of National Hunt racing, Red Rum, who won the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977, as well as finishing second in 1975 and 1976, has also gained ‘immortality’.

On the Flat, Dancing Brave, who won the 2,000 Guineas, Coral-Eclipse, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 1986 – and should have won the Derby, in the eyes of many observers – falls into the same category. So, too, does Frankel, who was unbeaten in all 14 races, including ten at the highest, Group One level and was the first horse for 60 years to be a champion at two, three and four years. On the other side of the Atlantic, Secretariat, nicknamed ‘Big Red’, became the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown in 1973; his 31-length demolition of the opposition in the Belmont Stakes remains one of the best performances ever seen on a racecourse.

What are blinkers?

What are blinkers? In horse racing, blinkers are one of the most commonly used types of headgear. Standard blinkers consist of pair of fabric, leather or plastic cups positioned, one either side, on a headpiece. The cups are placed next to the horse’s eyes with the intention of restricting its field of vision to the rear and, in some cases, to the side. Naturally, horses have a 275° field of vision, such that they can be easily distracted or upset by events on either side or behind them. Thus, by restricting the field of vision – to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the design of the blinkers – trainers hope to encourage a horse to focus on looking, and moving, forward and thereby improve its racecourse performance.

So-called ‘French’ blinkers, also known as ‘cheek pieces’, are less restrictive than standard blinkers, but serve a similar purpose. They consist of strips of sheepskin, which are attached to the straps on either side of a horse’s bridle and restrict how much the horse can see behind it. Blinkers and cheek pieces must be declared overnight and horses wearing these types of headgear can be identified by a small letter ‘b’, or ‘c’, next to the their names on a racecard.

Will Tiger Roll attempt to win a third Grand National?

Will Tiger Roll attempt to win a third Grand National? Although perhaps not quite a household name, Tiger Roll requires little or no introduction. For the uninitiated, in 2019 Tiger Roll became the first horse since Red Rum, in 1974, to win back-to-back renewals of the Grand National. The diminutive horse, who stands just 15.2 hands high and was once described as ‘a little rat of a thing’ by owner Michael O’Leary, was denied the chance to complete an unprecedented hat-trick when the Grand National was cancelled, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020.

In 2021, the Grand National returned, but O’Leary took exception to the handicap mark of 166 awarded to Tiger Roll by British Horseracing Authority (BHA) handicapper, Martin Greenwood, and withdrew his horse several weeks before the race. Nevertheless, Tiger Roll headed to the Cheltenham Festival for what had previously been his preparatory race for the Grand National, the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. He won, easily, reversing previous form with 2020 winner, Easyland, to the tune of 35 lengths, leaving O’Leary keen on the idea of a return to Aintree for the Grand National in 2022. He said, ‘Red Rum was dropped 7lb as a 12-year-old. Hopefully, Tiger will get the chance to go back to Aintree.’At the time of writing, Tiger Roll is a top-priced 33/1 to emulate Red Rum and win his third Grand National in five years.

Which was the first British-trained horse home in the 2021 Grand National?

Which was the first British-trained horse home in the 2021 Grand National? Following what was termed a ‘greenwash’ at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, where Irish-trained horses secured a record 23-5 victory over their British-trained counterparts in the Prestbury Cup, the 2021 Grand National proved to be an equally one-sided affair. At Aintree, British-trained horses, including the favourite, Cloth Cap, comprised 22 of the 40-strong field field.

However, of those 22 runners, just three – priced at 50/1, 50/1 and 100/1 – completed the course and just one finished in the first ten horses home. Of course, victory went to Minella Times, trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Rachael Blackmore, who made history by becoming the first female jockey to win the Grand National. Minella Times was followed home by stable companion Balko Des Flos, Any Second Now, trained by Ted Walsh, Burrows Saint, trained by Willie Mullins and Farclas, trained by Denise Foster, to complete an Irish 1-2-3-4-5.

The horse that fared best of the British-trained contigent was Blaklion, who had started favourite for the Grand National when a highly creditable fourth behind One For Arthur in 2017, when trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies. Nowadays a doughty 12-year-old, in the charge of Dan Skelton, Blaklion was sent off at 50/1, but ran perfectly respectfully, weakening from the final fence to finish sixth, 37 lengths behind the winner.

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