This three-time Gold Cup winner became the “people’s champion”, earning himself comparisons with the mighty Arkle. Hannah Lemieux delves deeper into his success
Best Mate’s origins
Died as a 10yo, bay thoroughbred gelding
Trainer: Henrietta Knight
Owner: Jim Lewis
Breeder: Jacques van’t Hart
Jockey: Jim Culloty
Best results: won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2002, 2003, 2004; the King George VI Chase in 2002; the 2001 Haldon Gold Cup; the 2002 Peterborough Chase; won 14 races from 22 starts and finished second seven times; total career earnings of £1,022,436.
Best Mate established a level of pre-eminence in racing that even 15 years after he left us, still remains untouchable. He delivered every time his hooves touched a racecourse. His form is something to be marvelled at – from 22 starts under Rules, he finished in the top two every race bar one, and never fell.
It was his longevity as a National Hunt superstar that meant people yearned to see him in the flesh, flocking to the likes of Cheltenham to watch him. He became the first horse since Arkle to win three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups, in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
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