Arkle

Last updated
Arkle
Skeleton of Arkle the horse at the Irish National Stud.jpg
Skeleton of Arkle the horse at the Irish National Stud
SireArchive
Grandsire Nearco
DamBright Cherry
DamsireKnight of the Garter
Sex Gelding
Foaled1957
Country Ireland
Colour Bay
BreederMary Baker at Malahow House
Owner Anne Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster
Trainer Tom Dreaper
Record35: 27-2-3
Earnings£95,198
Major wins
Cheltenham Gold Cup (1964, 1965, 1966)
King George VI Chase (1965)
Irish Grand National (1964)
Hennessy Gold Cup (1964,1965)
Leopardstown Chase (1964, 1965, 1966)
Whitbread Gold Cup (1965)
Gallagher Gold Cup (1965)
Punchestown Gold Cup (1963)
Powers Gold Cup (1963)
SGB Handicap Chase (1966)
Awards
Timeform rating: 212 (steeplechase)
(highest ever given for a steeplechaser)
Honours
British Steeplechasing Hall of Fame (1994)
Arkle Challenge Trophy at Cheltenham
Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown
Song 'Arkle' by Dominic Behan
Republic of Ireland postage stamp (1981)
Last updated on January 26, 2007

Arkle (19 April 1957 – 31 May 1970) was an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse. A bay gelding by Archive out of Bright Cherry, he was the grandson of the unbeaten (in 14 races) flat racehorse and prepotent sire Nearco. Arkle was born at Ballymacoll Stud, County Meath, and bred by Mrs Mary Alison Baker of Malahow House, near Naul, County Dublin. He was named after the mountain Arkle in Sutherland, Scotland that bordered the Duchess of Westminster’s Sutherland estate. [1] Owned by Anne Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster, he was trained by Tom Dreaper at Greenogue, Kilsallaghan in County Meath, Ireland, and ridden during his steeplechasing career by Pat Taaffe.

Contents

At 212, his Timeform rating is the highest ever awarded to a steeplechaser. Only Flyingbolt, also trained by Dreaper, had a rating anywhere near his at 210. Next on their ratings are Sprinter Sacre on 192 and then Kauto Star and Mill House on 191. Despite his career being cut short by injury, Arkle won three Cheltenham Gold Cups, the Blue Riband of steeplechasing, and a host of other top prizes.

On 19 April 2014 a 1.1 scale bronze statue was unveiled in Ashbourne, County Meath in commemoration of Arkle.

Racing career

His first victory at Cheltenham was in the Broadway Chase, which he won by twenty lengths. Mill House beat Arkle (and gave him 5 lbs) when they first met in the 1963 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, with Arkle slipping a few fences out and finishing third.

However, in the 1964 Cheltenham Gold Cup, Arkle avenged that defeat by beating Mill House (who had won the race the previous year) by five lengths to claim his first Gold Cup at odds of 7/4. It was the last time he did not start as the favourite for a race. Only two other horses entered the Gold Cup that year.

The racing authorities in Ireland took the unprecedented step in the Irish Grand National of devising two weight systems — one to be used when Arkle was running and one when he was not. Arkle won the 1964 race by only one length, but he carried two and half stones more than his rivals.

The following year's Gold Cup saw Arkle beat Mill House by twenty lengths at odds of 3/10. In the 1966 renewal, he was the shortest-priced favourite in history to win the Gold Cup, starting at odds of 1/10. He won the race by thirty lengths despite a mistake early in the race where he ploughed through a fence. However, it did not stop his momentum, nor did he ever look like falling. Arkle had a strange quirk in that he crossed his forelegs when jumping a fence. He went through the season 1965/66 unbeaten in five races.

Arkle won 27 of his 35 starts and won at distances from 1m 6f up to 3m 5f. Racing commentator Peter O'Sullevan has called Arkle a freak of nature — something unlikely to be seen again.

Besides winning three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups (1964, 1965, 1966) and the 1965 King George VI Chase, Arkle triumphed in a number of other important handicap chases, including the 1964 Irish Grand National (under 12-0), the 1964 and 1965 Hennessy Gold Cups (both times under 12-7), the 1965 Gallaher Gold Cup (conceding 16 lb to Mill House while breaking the course record by 17 seconds), and the 1965 Whitbread Gold Cup (under 12-7). In the 1966 Hennessy, he failed by only half a length to give Stalbridge Colonist 35 lb. The scale of the task Arkle faced is shown by the winner coming second and third in the two following Cheltenham Gold Cups, while in third place was the future 1969 Gold Cup winner, What A Myth.

In December 1966, Arkle raced in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park but struck the guard rail with a hoof when jumping the open ditch, which resulted in a fractured pedal bone; despite this injury, he completed the race and finished second. He was in plaster for four months and, though he made a good enough recovery to go back into training, he never ran again. He was retired and ridden as a hack by his owner and then succumbed to what has been variously described as advanced arthritis or possibly brucellosis and was put down at the early age of 13.

Arkle's full race record is listed below.

DateRacecourseDistanceRaceJockeyWeightOddsFieldResultMargin
09 Dec 61Mullingar2¼ milesLough Ennel Plate (NH Flat Race)Mr M Hely-Hutchinson11-45/1173rd9 lengths
26 Dec 61Leopardstown2 milesGreystones Flat Race (NH Flat Race)Mr M Hely-Hutchinson10-115/1104th8 lengths
20 Jan 62Navan3 milesBective Novice HurdleL McLoughlin11-520/1271st1½ lengths
10 Mar 62Naas2 milesRathconnell Handicap HurdleP Taaffe11-22/1f101st4 lengths
14 Apr 62Baldoyle2 milesBalbriggan Handicap HurdleL McLoughlin10-16/118Unpl15 lengths
24 Apr 62Fairyhouse2 milesNew Handicap HurdleL McLoughlin10-58/194th12 lengths
17 Oct 62Dundalk2 miles 1fWee County Handicap HurdleP Taaffe11-136/1101st6 lengths
24 Oct 62Gowran Park2 milesHE Presidents Handicap HurdleP Woods10-59/2f211st5 lengths
17 Nov 62Cheltenham2½ milesHoneybourne ChaseP Taaffe11-1111/8f121st20 lengths
23 Feb 63Leopardstown2 milesMilltown ChaseP Taaffe12-111/2f151st8 lengths
12 Mar 63Cheltenham3 milesBroadway ChaseP Taaffe12-44/9f151st20 lengths
15 Apr 63Fairyhouse2¼ milesPower Gold Cup ChaseP Taaffe12-52/7f51st3 lengths
1 May 63Punchestown2½ milesJohn Jameson Handicap ChaseP Taaffe12-44/7f31st15 lengths
09 Oct 63Navan1 mile 6fDonoughmore Plate (Flat Race)T P Burns9-64/6f131st5 lengths
24 Oct 63Gowran Park2½ milesCarey's Cottage Handicap ChaseP Taaffe11-134/7f101st10 lengths
30 Nov 63Newbury3¼ milesHennessy Gold Cup (Handicap Chase)P Taaffe11-95/2103rd8¾ lengths
26 Dec 63Leopardstown3 milesChristmas Handicap ChaseP Taaffe12-04/7f61st2 lengths
30 Jan 64Gowran Park3 miles ½fThyestes Handicap ChaseP Taaffe12-04/6f91st10 lengths
15 Feb 64Leopardstown3 milesLeopardstown Handicap ChaseP Taaffe12-04/7f61st12 lengths
07 Mar 64Cheltenham3¼ milesCheltenham Gold CupP Taaffe12-07/441st5 lengths
30 Mar 64Fairyhouse3¼ milesIrish Grand National (Handicap Chase)P Taaffe12-01/2f71st1¼ lengths
29 Oct 64Gowran Park2½ milesCarey's Cottage Handicap ChaseP Taaffe12-01/5f31st5 lengths
05 Dec 64Newbury3¼ milesHennessy Gold Cup (Handicap Chase)P Taaffe12-75/4f91st10 lengths
12 Dec 64Cheltenham2 miles 5fMassey-Ferguson Gold Cup (H'cap Chase)P Taaffe12-108/11f73rd1¼ lengths
27 Feb 65Leopardstown3 milesLeopardstown Handicap ChaseP Taaffe12-78/11f91st1 length
11 Mar 65Cheltenham3¼ milesCheltenham Gold CupP Taaffe12-03/10f41st20 lengths
24 Apr 65Sandown3 miles 5fWhitbread Gold Cup (Handicap Chase)P Taaffe12-74/9f71st5 lengths
06 Nov 65Sandown3 miles ½fGallaher Gold Cup (Handicap Chase)P Taaffe12-74/9f71st20 lengths
27 Nov 65Newbury3¼ milesHennessy Gold Cup (Handicap Chase)P Taaffe12-71/6f81st15 lengths
27 Dec 65Kempton3 milesKing George VI ChaseP Taaffe12-01/7f41st30+ lengths
01 Mar 66Leopardstown3 milesLeopardstown Handicap ChaseP Taaffe12-71/5f41stNeck
17 Mar 66Cheltenham3¼ milesCheltenham Gold CupP Taaffe12-01/10f51st30 lengths
26 Nov 66Newbury3¼ milesHennessy Gold Cup (Handicap Chase)P Taaffe12-74/6f62nd½ length
14 Dec 66Ascot3 milesSGB Handicap ChaseP Taaffe12-71/3f51st15 lengths
27 Dec 66Kempton3 milesKing George VI ChaseP Taaffe12-72/9f72nd1 length

Arkle became a national legend in Ireland. His strength was jokingly claimed to come from drinking Guinness twice a day. At one point, the slogan Arkle for President was written on a wall in Dublin.[ citation needed ] The horse was often referred to simply as "Himself", and he supposedly received items of fan mail addressed to 'Himself, Ireland'.[ citation needed ]

The government owned Irish National Stud, at Tully, Kildare, Co. Kildare, Ireland, has the skeleton of Arkle on display in its museum. A statue in his memory was erected in Ashbourne Co. Meath in April 2014.

See also

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References

  1. "The legend of Arkle". BBC. Retrieved 6 May 2015.