For The Record: Heroines one and all; From Lady Madcap to Flakey Dove-the century's 10 best jumping mares.
Below is a list of the 10 best mares to race over hurdles and fences in Britain and Ireland in the 20th century.
Lady Madcap (1905)
The only mare to be champion hurdler twice, Lady Madcap achieved that distinction in 1911/12 and 1912/13.
In March 1912, she put up three scintillating performances in good handicaps. She ran away with the International Hurdle at Gatwick by six lengths; easily defied a 7lb penalty in the Rendlesham Hurdle at Kempton; and then, carrying 12st 6lb (including a 10lb penalty), finished second in the Liverpool Hurdle at the Grand National meeting.
Bob Gore's mare retained her crown decisively when carrying 12st 7lb to a battling short-head victory in the Great Sandown Hurdle in 1913.
Her achievements came long before the Champion Hurdle was first run.
The best jumping mare of the first half of the century, Habton won the Broadway (now Royal & SunAlliance) Novices' Chase at Cheltenham in 1921 and the Five Hundred Chase at Manchester in 1922 before nearly becoming the champion chaser of 1922/23.
She gained three dazzling triumphs that season, trouncing Old Tay Bridge in the Middlesex Chase at Kempton, easily defying
12st 7lb in the Victory Chase at Manchester, and breezing home at Gatwick from Shaun Spadah. The latter was one of only two horses weighted above her in the Grand National handicap, but Frank Hartigan's mare never ran in the race.
West Indies (1924)
One of the most popular and versatile horses of the century, West Indies won the Irish 1,000 Guineas by 12 lengths in 1927 and was also placed in the local Oaks and St Leger.
She was almost the champion hurdler in 1929/30 when winning the International Hurdle at Gatwick, and she developed into a top-class chaser.
She was an exhilarating, front-running two-miler, and when romping away with the Valentine Chase at Liverpool in 1931 she became the only Classic winner to triumph over the Grand National fences.
She fell, breaking her neck, at Newbury the following January.
The second mare to triumph in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Kerstin won the National Hunt Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in 1956, was beaten a length into second place by Linwell in the Gold Cup 12 months later, and took the great prize in 1958, leading throughout the final circuit and holding on by half a
length. The two best chasers of the season, Mandarin and Linwell, both failed to complete the course.
Trained by Verly Bewicke in Northumberland, she was beaten a short head in the 1958 Hennessy Gold Cup, and the following year she won the Hennessy and the Imperial Leather Chase at Manchester.
Former hunter chaser Olympia was still only six when winning the 1960 Irish Grand National by six lengths under 9st 11lb. It was the first of seven consecutive wins in the
race for trainer Tom Dreaper.
This daughter of 1947 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Fortina reached her peak the following year, when she came fifth in an above-average Gold Cup, won the Munster National, and was fourth to Mandarin in the Hennessy after cruising to the front three out but then being anchored by top weight. She was owned by Lord Donoughmore and often was ridden by his son Mark
Flying Wild (1956)
The only mare to beat Arkle over fences, Flying Wild achieved that distinction when winning the 1964 Massey-Ferguson Gold Cup at Cheltenham by a short head from Buona notte (sic), with the supreme champion (who conceded 32lb to her) a length away in third.
Trained in Ireland by Dan Moore for Raymond Guest, the grey also won the 1964 Stone's Ginger Wine Chase at Sandown, and at the
1966 Cheltenham Festival she was a distant third to Flyingbolt in the Two-Mile Champion Chase and won the Cathcart Chase. She made no show in two
Grand Nationals, starting 100/7 co-favourite in 1964.
Glencaraig Lady (1964)
The best steeplechasing mare of the century, Glencaraig Lady is the only one of her sex to be the overall champion over fences, a distinction she achieved with her victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1972.
Like Olympia a daughter of Fortina, she was trained by Francis Flood in Ireland and, despite winning the John Jameson Chase at Punchestown and the SGB Chase at Ascot, just missed out on the biggest prizes for most of her career. In 1970 she fell at the final fence when leading in the Champion (now Royal & SunAlliance) Novices'
Chase at Cheltenham and was second in the Irish Grand National, and in the following year's Cheltenham Gold Cup she was going strongly in the lead when falling three out.
Glencaraig Lady made amends in the Gold Cup in 1972, battling on to lead close home to prevail by three-quarters of a length and a head from Royal Toss and The Dikler. She survived an objection.
Unlike Dawn Run 14 years later, she met her rivals at level weights, and, with a Timeform rating of 172, she was just about the best steeplechaser of a non-vintage season. She never ran again.
Anaglogs Daughter (1973)
With a Timeform rating of 171, Anaglogs Daughter,
not Dawn Run (167), was Ireland's best chasing mare of the 1980s.
A bold-jumping, front-running performer, she ran more than 80 times before finally blossoming to become the champion novice chaser of 1979/80 with victories in the Arkle Chases at Leopardstown and Cheltenham.
The following season, Bill Durkan's exceptionally tough mare was the champion two-miler. She won the Buchanan Whisky Gold Cup at Ascot and was runner-up to Silver Buck in the King George VI Chase, but when odds-on for the Queen Mother Champion Chase she was below her best, finishing second to Drumgora.
Dawn Run (1978)
Dawn Run is a legend as the only horse to win both the Champion Hurdle (1984) and the Cheltenham Gold Cup (1986), but that status is bogus because she would not have won either race without the recently introduced sex allowance and the absence through injury of the reigning champions - Gaye Brief and Burrough Hill Lad respectively. However, she was the best hurdling mare of all time.
She proved herself a champion in 1984 - not in her three-quarter-length win in the first renewal of the Champion Hurdle in which mares received a 5lb allowance, but in the Aintree Hurdle and the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil (French Champion Hurdle). In both races, she relished a stiffer test of stamina and gained wide-margin,
front-running victories. She had previously won the Christmas Hurdle and Irish Champion Hurdle.
Trained by Paddy Mullins in Ireland, Dawn Run was having only her fifth run
over fences when battling
to a famous victory in the 1986 Cheltenham Gold
Cup, though taking the weights into account, she was only the fourth-best horse in the field.
The following month she beat Buck House in a
match at Punchestown,
but, when trying for a
second Grande Course de Haies, she broke her neck in a fall.
Flakey Dove (1986)
Though not a champion, Flakey Dove became only the third mare to win the Champion Hurdle when producing a gutsy performance to beat Oh So Risky (gave 5lb) by a length and a half in 1994. She proved no match for champion Danoli in the Aintree Hurdle the following month.
A granddaughter of the Price family's outstanding broodmare Red Dove, she was no more than a good handicapper for most of
her career. She won at Aintree in 1992, came seventh in the Champion Hurdle the year before she won it, and took the Haydock Park Champion Hurdle Trial and Cleeve Hurdle in 1994.
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