Arkle has taken the accolade of “Britains Favourite Racehorse” in a recent poll conducted by the Racing Post.
The poll, which began in December 2003, asked readers to identify their top three favourite racehorses of all time, with the only conditions that the horses must have raced under rules in Britain or Ireland.
The much-loved Desert Orchid had been expected by many to take the title for his four King George victories and memorable Gold Cup win. He was pipped to the post by the Irish-trained Arkle, whose success in the 1960s established the horse as a national institution in Ireland, where he was known simply as “himself”.
Arkle won 22 of his 26 races, including three consecutive Gold Cups, and his rivalry with Mill House during the 1960s was one of the most hotly contested battles in the history of racing. Interestingly, most of Arkle’s votes were received via phone.
Red Rum, whose name is inextricably linked with the Grand National, was the nations third favourite racehorse of all time. He won the worlds most famous steeplechase a record three times in 1973, 1974 and 1977, coming in second in 1975 and 1976. His death in 1995 filled the front pages of every newspaper, and he was buried at Aintree.
The fourth place was filled by Istabraq, who won three champion hurdles and would have been hot favourite to win a fourth had it not been for the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.
The remainder of the top 10 horses were Group One champion Brigadier Gerard, 1994 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup winner One Man, veteran flat-racer Persian Punch, Arc hero Dancing Brave, Sea Pigeon, who boasted the ability to excel over jumps and on the flat, and triple crown winner Nijinsky.
Best Mate, who seeks to emulate Arkles record of three consecutive Gold Cups this year, ranked only 14th in the poll. Another surprise omission from the top 10 was 1981 Derby winner Shergar, who became a household name following his subsequent abduction.