100 greatest races: Heroics from history and battles to savour.
First blood to Galileo King George, Ascot, July 28, 2001 1. Galileo 1-2f 2. Fantastic Light 7-2 3. Hightori 22-1 Winning owners: Sue Magnier and Michael Tabor Trainer: Aidan O'Brien Jockey: Mick KinaneDistances: 2l, 1l
What made it great In so many ways it was the perfect clash. Flat racing's two superpowers represented by two exceptional racehorses; for Ballydoyle, Galileo, the silky smooth Derby winner at Epsom and The Curragh, and for Godolphin, Fantastic Light, two years older and a Group 1 victor in four different countries. The betting favoured Galileo and on this occasion the betting was right. Quickening off a fast pace, Galileo surged ahead early in the straight, only to be followed immediately by Fantastic Light. Entering the final furlong the result could have gone either way, but with Fantastic Light's stamina ebbing away up the hill, Galileo opened up clear water for a famous win - but his victim would soon have his revenge. LM
Tudor Minstrel canters home 2,000 Guineas, Newmarket, April 30, 1947 1. Tudor Minstrel 11-8f 2. Saravan 25-1 3. Sayajirao 33-1 Winning owner: John Arthur Dewar Trainer: Fred Darling Jockey: Gordon Richards Distances: 8l, sh hd
What made it great Tudor Minstrel was a brilliant miler, and those who hailed him as the Horse of the Century after his awesome record-breaking victory in the 2,000 Guineas were not far wrong. The previous year's champion juvenile led all the way on a tight rein and, after disposing of Petition (his only serious rival), had the race won before halfway. He cantered past the post with Gordon Richards patting his neck and tweaking his ears, and his official winning margin of eight lengths (photographs show it was at least ten) is easily the biggest ever seen in the race.
Tudor Minstrel proved a non-stayer but his Derby flop could not erase the memory of the greatest of all Guineas victories. JR
Le Moss v Ardross (rnd 1) Gold Cup, Ascot, June 19, 1980 1 Le Moss 3-1f 2 Ardross 6-1 3 Vincent 11-2 Winning owner: Carlo d'Alessio Trainer: Henry Cecil Jockey: Joe Mercer Distances: /4l, 6l
What made it great In 1980, Le Moss and Ardross were practically the same horse. They fought out the finish of the three most prestigious staying contests in Britain - the Goodwood Cup and Doncaster Cup are the other two - and the winning margins were three-quarters of a length, a neck and a neck, all in favour of Le Moss. But it was the first of their duels, at Royal Ascot, that stood out.
Le Moss, following an interrupted schedule and without a preparatory outing, set out to make all as usual, but when Ardross joined issue with him just inside the two-furlong marker the lack of race fitness might have been expected to tell. Far from it; every time Ardross looked the stronger, Le Moss dug deep and found a little more, just enough. Staying races have never been as exciting since that summer. SD
Mtoto eclipses Reference Point Coral-Eclipse Stakes, Sandown, July 4, 1987 1. Mtoto 6-1 2. Reference Point evens f 3. Triptych 4-1 Winning owner: Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum Trainer: Alec Stewart Jockey: Michael Roberts Distances: 3 /4l, 1 1 /2l
What made it great A brutal clash of the generations that saw the emergence of a major star in Mtoto. The front-running Reference Point, a thoroughly convincing Derby victor on his previous outing, was sent off hot favourite to add to his laurels over two furlongs shorter. But for the presence of the year-older Mtoto, a late-maturing colt who was twice to become a middle-distance champion, he would have done so. Reference Point set a fiercely searching gallop, but Mtoto was nevertheless able to join issue two out.
However, while a powerful burst of speed was later Mtoto's trademark, here he could overcome an admirably tenacious rival only after a thrilling head-to-head struggle in which neither horse was willing to give in. NG
Ribot the worldbeater Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Longchamp, October 7, 19561. Ribot 3-5f 2. Talgo 100-1 3. Tanerko 8-1 Winning owner: Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta Trainer: Ugo Penco Jockey: Enrico Camici Distances: 6l, 2l What made it great The legendary Ribot completed his unbeaten 16-race career with an exhibition of supreme class. The Italian world-beater, bred by Federico Tesio, had already won the Arc once and the King George, and in his second Arc he met a top-quality international field that included two raiders from America. Always in the first three, he took the lead turning for home and, relentlessly striding clear, galloped his rivals into the ground to beat British champion Talgo by an official margin of six lengths, though photographs show the verdict should have been eight or nine lengths. This stunning second victory in Europe's championship race made Ribot a contender for the title Racehorse of the Century. JR
The Flying Dutchman v VoltigeurMatch, York, May 13, 18511. The Flying Dutchman evens 2. Voltigeur evens Winning owner: 13th Earl of Eglinton Trainer: John Fobert Jockey: Charlie Marlow Distance: 1l What made it great The race of the century, and the greatest match race of all time, took place over two miles between two great Yorkshire-trained champions who had both won the Derby and St Leger. In the previous season's Doncaster Cup the yearyounger Voltigeur had become the only horse ever to beat The Flying Dutchman, and their second meeting, brought about by popular demand, attracted a huge crowd to the Knavesmire.
Voltigeur set the pace and was clear turning for home, but when The Flying Dutchman (conceding the weight-for-age allowance) was asked for an effort it proved irresistible despite a gallant fight by his rival, and he prevailed by a length. JR
One Man at last Champion Chase, Cheltenham, March 18, 1998 1. One Man 7-2 2. Or Royal 7-2 3. Lord Dorcet 50-1 Winning owner: John Hales Trainer: Gordon Richards Jockey: Brian Harding Distances: 4l, 5l
What made it great One Man was a horse who people loved. Being grey boosted his popularity, but there was more to it than that. Like Desert Orchid before him, he was flamboyant, bold and brilliant but, also like Desert Orchid, Cheltenham was not his ideal track. A beaten favourite in the 1994 Sun Alliance Chase, he had floundered up the hill in the 1996 and 1997 Gold Cups, cruising into a winning position only to then walk home almost too exhausted to continue. Yet dropped back to two miles for the 1998 Champion Chase, One Man replaced pain with pleasure as he made most, stamping his authority on both the field and the hill that had so often hurt him in the past. LM
A right Royal thriller Eclipse Stakes, Sandown, July 6, 1968 1 Royal Palace 9-4 2 Taj Dewan 7-2 3 Sir Ivor 4-5f Winning owner: Jim Joel Trainer: Noel Murless Jockey: Sandy Barclay Distances: sh hd, /4l
What made it great Clashes between Derby winners are sadly all too rare, but the battle between that year's Epsom hero Sir Ivor and Royal Palace, who won the Classic the previous season, really whetted the appetite. Add to that the presence of Taj Dewan, who had been just touched off by Royal Palace in the previous year's 2,000 Guineas, and the stage was set for a battle royal. That is what the trio gave us as they were virtually in a line a furlong from home with Taj Dewan just in front. Sir Ivor, perhaps surprisingly, was the first to admit defeat and Taj Dewan (left) simply refused to let Royal Palace go by. In the last stride Royal Palace forced his nose in front; it took the judge an age to call the result and most thought Taj Dewan had held on. ``Merde!'' said his trainer when the verdict was given - it does not mean murder. GE
Bobsline v Noddy's Ryde Arkle Trophy, Cheltenham, March 13, 1984 1 Bobsline 5-4 2 Noddy's Ryde 7-4 3 Voice Of Progress 6-1 Winning owner: Bob Kelsey Trainer: Francis Flood Jockey: Frank Berry Distances: 1 1 /2l, 10l
What made it great The best two-mile novice in Ireland had come over to fight for the crown with the best two-mile novice in Britain. Expectations were high. They were exceeded. With two to jump Noddy's Ryde was freewheeling in front as usual, with the unbeaten Bobsline on his shoulder, and as the pair turned into the home straight they flattened out like greyhounds and went at it hammer and tongs. They jumped the last as one and Bobsline (left) took a slight advantage on the hill before Noddy's Ryde came battering back at him, but it was an unavailing assault. It was the race of the Festival, of nine out of ten Festivals. But before the year was out Noddy's Ryde was dead, killed in a fall at Devon & Exeter. Everyone felt the loss. SD
Flying Wild floors `Himself' Massey-Ferguson Gold Cup, Cheltenham, December 12, 1964 1 Flying Wild 100-8 2 Buona notte 4-1 3 Arkle 8-11f Winning owner: Raymond Guest Trainer: Dan Moore Jockey: Tommy Carberry Distances: sh hd, 1l
What made it great An `expert' once arrogantly proclaimed that ``handicaps place a premium on mediocrity''. If this was mediocrity, let's have it all day every day, as this was one of the most brilliantly competitive finishes any race has produced. Arkle was carrying 12st 10lb, including a 3lb penalty for his win in the Hennessy two weeks earlier; Flying Wild was a top-level racemare who had started joint-favourite for the previous season's Grand National, and Buona notte had been the previous term's outstanding novice and was out for the first time that season.
Buona notte had been in front when he slipped on landing over the last, but he came back so well at Flying Wild that there were only inches between them at the line. Arkle rallied so well up the hill that he was only just behind.
Mediocre? Pah! GE
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||Jan 24, 2005|
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