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Skeleton of Arkle the horse at the Irish National Stud
|Damsire||Knight of the Garter|
|Breeder||Mary Baker at Malahow House|
|Owner||Anne Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster|
| 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)
| Timeform rating: 212 (steeplechase) |
(highest ever given for a steeplechaser)
| 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.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.
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.
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.
|09 Dec 61||Mullingar||2¼ miles||Lough Ennel Plate (NH Flat Race)||Mr M Hely-Hutchinson||11-4||5/1||17||3rd||9 lengths|
|26 Dec 61||Leopardstown||2 miles||Greystones Flat Race (NH Flat Race)||Mr M Hely-Hutchinson||10-11||5/1||10||4th||8 lengths|
|20 Jan 62||Navan||3 miles||Bective Novice Hurdle||L McLoughlin||11-5||20/1||27||1st||1½ lengths|
|10 Mar 62||Naas||2 miles||Rathconnell Handicap Hurdle||P Taaffe||11-2||2/1f||10||1st||4 lengths|
|14 Apr 62||Baldoyle||2 miles||Balbriggan Handicap Hurdle||L McLoughlin||10-1||6/1||18||Unpl||15 lengths|
|24 Apr 62||Fairyhouse||2 miles||New Handicap Hurdle||L McLoughlin||10-5||8/1||9||4th||12 lengths|
|17 Oct 62||Dundalk||2 miles 1f||Wee County Handicap Hurdle||P Taaffe||11-13||6/1||10||1st||6 lengths|
|24 Oct 62||Gowran Park||2 miles||HE Presidents Handicap Hurdle||P Woods||10-5||9/2f||21||1st||5 lengths|
|17 Nov 62||Cheltenham||2½ miles||Honeybourne Chase||P Taaffe||11-11||11/8f||12||1st||20 lengths|
|23 Feb 63||Leopardstown||2 miles||Milltown Chase||P Taaffe||12-11||1/2f||15||1st||8 lengths|
|12 Mar 63||Cheltenham||3 miles||Broadway Chase||P Taaffe||12-4||4/9f||15||1st||20 lengths|
|15 Apr 63||Fairyhouse||2¼ miles||Power Gold Cup Chase||P Taaffe||12-5||2/7f||5||1st||3 lengths|
|1 May 63||Punchestown||2½ miles||John Jameson Handicap Chase||P Taaffe||12-4||4/7f||3||1st||15 lengths|
|09 Oct 63||Navan||1 mile 6f||Donoughmore Plate (Flat Race)||T P Burns||9-6||4/6f||13||1st||5 lengths|
|24 Oct 63||Gowran Park||2½ miles||Carey's Cottage Handicap Chase||P Taaffe||11-13||4/7f||10||1st||10 lengths|
|30 Nov 63||Newbury||3¼ miles||Hennessy Gold Cup (Handicap Chase)||P Taaffe||11-9||5/2||10||3rd||8¾ lengths|
|26 Dec 63||Leopardstown||3 miles||Christmas Handicap Chase||P Taaffe||12-0||4/7f||6||1st||2 lengths|
|30 Jan 64||Gowran Park||3 miles ½f||Thyestes Handicap Chase||P Taaffe||12-0||4/6f||9||1st||10 lengths|
|15 Feb 64||Leopardstown||3 miles||Leopardstown Handicap Chase||P Taaffe||12-0||4/7f||6||1st||12 lengths|
|07 Mar 64||Cheltenham||3¼ miles||Cheltenham Gold Cup||P Taaffe||12-0||7/4||4||1st||5 lengths|
|30 Mar 64||Fairyhouse||3¼ miles||Irish Grand National (Handicap Chase)||P Taaffe||12-0||1/2f||7||1st||1¼ lengths|
|29 Oct 64||Gowran Park||2½ miles||Carey's Cottage Handicap Chase||P Taaffe||12-0||1/5f||3||1st||5 lengths|
|05 Dec 64||Newbury||3¼ miles||Hennessy Gold Cup (Handicap Chase)||P Taaffe||12-7||5/4f||9||1st||10 lengths|
|12 Dec 64||Cheltenham||2 miles 5f||Massey-Ferguson Gold Cup (H'cap Chase)||P Taaffe||12-10||8/11f||7||3rd||1¼ lengths|
|27 Feb 65||Leopardstown||3 miles||Leopardstown Handicap Chase||P Taaffe||12-7||8/11f||9||1st||1 length|
|11 Mar 65||Cheltenham||3¼ miles||Cheltenham Gold Cup||P Taaffe||12-0||3/10f||4||1st||20 lengths|
|24 Apr 65||Sandown||3 miles 5f||Whitbread Gold Cup (Handicap Chase)||P Taaffe||12-7||4/9f||7||1st||5 lengths|
|06 Nov 65||Sandown||3 miles ½f||Gallaher Gold Cup (Handicap Chase)||P Taaffe||12-7||4/9f||7||1st||20 lengths|
|27 Nov 65||Newbury||3¼ miles||Hennessy Gold Cup (Handicap Chase)||P Taaffe||12-7||1/6f||8||1st||15 lengths|
|27 Dec 65||Kempton||3 miles||King George VI Chase||P Taaffe||12-0||1/7f||4||1st||30+ lengths|
|01 Mar 66||Leopardstown||3 miles||Leopardstown Handicap Chase||P Taaffe||12-7||1/5f||4||1st||Neck|
|17 Mar 66||Cheltenham||3¼ miles||Cheltenham Gold Cup||P Taaffe||12-0||1/10f||5||1st||30 lengths|
|26 Nov 66||Newbury||3¼ miles||Hennessy Gold Cup (Handicap Chase)||P Taaffe||12-7||4/6f||6||2nd||½ length|
|14 Dec 66||Ascot||3 miles||SGB Handicap Chase||P Taaffe||12-7||1/3f||5||1st||15 lengths|
|27 Dec 66||Kempton||3 miles||King George VI Chase||P Taaffe||12-7||2/9f||7||2nd||1 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.
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