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Best steeplechasers ever in order of merit combining Britain and Ireland?

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    This is my list in order of merit of the best steeplechasers ever combining both Britain and Ireland. Not including hurdlers. Given as much emphasis to achievement and class in rankings.I have not completed supported the timform rankings.

    1. Golden Miller

    -No horse ever won 5 Cheltenham Gold cups as well as a Grand National and Gold cup in the same year. Arguably in adverse conditions or in heavy going could beat Arkle.His record timing in the Grand National stood for 38 year still Red Rum broke it in 1973.In terms of achievement unequalled and also in toughness and ability to handle any kind of going. Simply earned immortality and still experts rate the Miller as the greatest of all chasers. A lazy and temperamental horse unlike Arkle,but the ultimate epitome of galloping opponents to the ground.

    In 1932 Golden Miller won his 1st Gold Cup benefiting from a fall of favourite Grakle.In 1933 he mercilessly crushed Thommond 11 by 10 lengths ,after snatching the lead from his rival two fences out.The following year trounced rivals by 6 lengths but easily could have doubled it.That year he went on to win the Grand National in the heaviest possible going by 5 lengths in a record time of 9 min 20 secs,carrying top weight of 12st 20 lb.He majestically spurted to overtake leader Delaneige at the last. In terms of achievements Golden Miller reached mythical proportions which probably no chaser will ever emulate. In 1935 the racing world witnessed one of its most intense or epic duels for supremacy where Golden Miller prevailed by a mere three quarters of a length from Thommond 11.Sporting Life ranked it as the best performance it ever witnessed in a steeplechaser with the Miller displaying the resilience of a military general.There was no Gold cup in 1937.In 1938 Inspite of battling bravely to be in contention of victory at the last and leading by half a length over the last,was overpowered by Morse Code ,unable to deliver a finishing burst.

    No doubt did not assert superiority on same scale as Arkle and the Gold cup did not have the same prestige in his era as in times of Arkle and later chasers. Rated at the top for his ability to conquer all types of going or condition sand incredible longevity.Overall even Arkle or Kauto Star was not as versatile.In terms of achievements Golden Miller reached mythical proportions which probably no chaser will ever emulate.

    Part owner of Desert Orchid James Burridge was convinced that Golden Miller was the best.In the view of author of book ‘Golden Miller’ in 1972 ,Gregory Blaxland “Arkle’s impetuoisty would have exposed him to the hazards of overjumping in the early stages,and it would surely have made him vulnerable to the sprint Golden Miller showed he could produce beyond the last fence.Despite the evidence of their times ,it is hard to believe that Arkle in heavy going would have overshadowed Golden Miller who had greater stamina and a higher actioned stride.

    2. Arkle

    No racehorse could ever be more a scourge for a handicapper who simply defied the law of averages. A new set of handicapping rules had to be set for Arkle who asserted superiority over rivals and invincibility in the heights of divinty.His presence was the equivalent of a prophet to steeplechasing.Arkle On park courses none was his equal. However with fences and tracks totally changed may not have treated his rivals like starters hacks in later years as he did in his own era. Possibly his injury at Kempton prevented him from emulating Golden Miller by wining 5 gold cups. To win 27 out of 53 starts overall and 26 out 30 chases is an unprecedented achievement. On basis of pure ability the greatest ever. No racehorse has ever been so head and shoulders above his contemporaries. His 20 length Gold cup win in 1966 took achievement in sport to sublime heights. The contempt with which Arkle treated the outstanding chaser Mill House is unprecedentd in racing.

    His defeat by Stalbridge Colonist was reminiscent of Muhammad ali being beaten, when conceding huge weight.

    Arguably Timeform rated Arkle too much ahead of later stalwarts like Kauto Star or Desert Orchid, around 19lb ahead.Nevertheless for sheer brilliance Arkle was absolutely at the top of the pedestal.

    3.Kauto Star

    Arguably even more talented than Arkle .In an illustrious career won 2 Gold cups and an unprecedented 5 King George 6th Chases. However often faltered at the last or in jumps in big races and did not carry huge handicaps like Arkle.Won 23 out of 41 starts, but it was more the manner he demolished his opposition. No chaser ever dominated a King George with such authority as Kauto who could have sat with the Gods of Olympus at his best there.Without doubt Arkle was the better jumper but it was Kauto who was more versatile,wining no fewer than 16 grade one races from distance of tow miles to three miles plus. Kauto also displayed considerably more longevity than Arkle,with his carer spanning over 7 seasons.No chaser triumphed in grade one races for 5 consecutive seasons like Kauto.To me faster than Arkle but nowhere as superior over his contemporaries. However deserved a timeform rating atleast above 200.To be fair Kauto devoured stronger and more opponents than Arkle,who often had not more than 5 rivals.

    Mercilessly destroyed his rivals to win the 2007 Gold Cup by a long looking 17 lengths,inspite of a minor mishap at the last fence. No horse ever vanquished his rivals into such submission or treated rivals with as much contempt in the King George .In 2007 he pulled away from Exotic Dancer; in 2008 he won in a waltz from Our Vic and in 2008 coasted home 8 lengths clear from Alberta’s Run. In all these races ironically he faltered and almost was brought to mishap at the last. His 2009 King George win took racing achievement to regions of divinty when he won by 36 lengths.

    4.Desert Orchid

    The most charismatic and best loved character after Arkle and Red Rum. Rarely could any chaser rise from the depths of despair in race to reach the pinnacle of glory. Dessie posessed the grace of a ballad dancer with a charasterictic stride revealing beauty at it’s zenith. Few chasers blended courage, speed and stamina to such a crescendo. No horse carried handicaps better after Arkle.Arguably the best ever front runner amongst chasers.At his best on right-handed tracks like Kempton,Sandown and Ascot.

    He won 34 of his 70 starts and 27 of his 50 races over fences, including an Irish Grand National, Gold cup and 4 King George 6th chases.Won his 1st King George by 15 lengths from Door Latch and also defeated horses like Wayward Lad and Forgive ‘n’Forget.
    The 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup was the most defining moment of Dessie’s career .Here he exhibited the courage of a soldier rising like a phoenix from the Ashes to overpower rival Yahoo. Carrying topweight Desert Orchid was at his best in the Victor Chandler Chase Here he conceded 22 lb to Panto Prince 23 lb and Vodkatini and still prevailed by a head from Panto Prince.He also pulled of a famous win carrying topweight of 12 stone to trounce his rivals by 12 lengths in the Irish Grand national ,inspite of a blunder at the last fence.

    5. Red Rum

    The equivalent of Arkle or Muhammad Ali to the Grand National. No chaser ever equalled Red Rum’s resilience over the daunting Aintree course and fences. To be placed first or second in 5 successive grand nationals is something that will possible never be equalled .No chaser has won a national by 30 lengths that too carrying topweight or come from so far behind to catch the gallant Chaser Crisp in the last strides as in 1973.Above al carried the burden of topweight of 12st to triumph twice.

    Many chasers had more class but none were bestowed with the sheer stamina and consistency over National fences as Red Rum.

    6. Flyingbolt

    Never ran in a Gold Cup but for which e may have even joined the Mighty Arkle.Unlike Arkle a very temperamental colt. Arguably no chaser conquered rivals with as much disdain after Arkle as Flyingbolt.In terms of temperament a total contrast to stablemate Arkle ,displaying precocious tendencies ,by not allowing anyone to willingly enter his box.

    Officially ranked only behind Arkle and sadly never ran in a Gold Cup.Potentially close to the immortal Arkle .Won 17 of his 20 races,including 11 chases in a row. Won the Irish Grand National bearing the burden of a huge handicap of 12st 7lb and still won by 2 lengths. He conquered He conquered Height o’Fashion and previous years winner Spash conceding 42lb and 40 lb respectively..Also won 1966 2 mile Champion chase in a waltz.

    A clash with the giant Arkle was missed which would have been sport’s most epic tussle for supremacy.


    In the view of some at his best even ahead of Kauto Star.Similar to a Dr Jeckle and Mr.Hyde who twice trounced rival Kauto.Not so much a speed merchant but the ultimate powerhouse of energy.No horse pulled with more intensity or power.Won 13 of his first 14 races and in 6 racse at Cheltenham wasnever out of the first 2.

    Denman twice carried massive weights to win the Hennessy Gold Cup and won a Cheltenham Gold cup with remorseless conviction in 2008,even conquering Kauto Star. He was not the most elegant or graceful runners with power being his main trumpcard.

    Ressurected from the grave as few chasers ever did in history in the 2009 Cheltenham festival after not running for 11 months due to irregular heartbeat and sent to New Market for treatment .

    In an epic duel got the better over Kauto in 2011 Gold Cup but went down to Long Run.Neverthless beat his old rival by 7 lengths.

    8. Mill House

    Had he not raced in Arkle’s era may have been close to the best chaser ever.Won the Gold cup in 1963 most emphatically by a margin of 12 lengths. In 1963 trounced Arkle by 8 lengths in the Hennesy Gold cup inspite of conceding 5lb.Arguably an injury faced pre maturely in his career affected him and curtailed him from giving of his best against Arkle.Neverthless did defeat Arkle once ,win a Hennesy Gold Cup,Cheltenham Gold Cup and King George in his career and retired with pomp .In 1967 in the Whitbread Gold cup was beaten by a mere 3 lengths by Dormant,inspite of conceding 32 lb.

    Won 15 of his 30 races .Arguably much closer to Arkle,than the racing margins revealed.
    His racing carer ended in an emotional finale with a spectacular triumph in the Whitbread Gold Cup where he revealed class and courage at its supreme height,to win by a length and a half. Mill House received the deserved adulation in the winner’s enclosure, like a famous statesman being greeted.

    9. Best Mate

    1st to emulate Arkle by wining 3 Gold Cups with class of a true equine superstar. In his 2nd win in 2003 displayed contempt over rivals winning by 10 lengths. Displayed tenacity at its zenith when staving off challenge in his first and final Gold cup wins.

    In his 1st Gold cup win Best Mate warded of a challenge from former winner See More Business and Commanche Court to prevail by 1 and three quarters of a length.
    His 2nd Gold Cup win in 2003 by a margin of 10 lengths over Marlborough , was amongst the best ever in a gold cup when he treated his rivals with contempt rarely ever exhibited in the history of the race.
    In 2004 he captured his 3rd crown but only after being stretched to his limit by Sir Rembrandt and Harbour Pilot who were piloted to tactically outmanouvre the star. In this race it was courage that was the trumpcard of Best Mate which enabled him to stave of any challenge and prevail by only half a length at the winning post.

    10. Easter Hero

    Although light-framed and relatively fragile, the ultimate prototype of a agile, atheletic and perfect chaser. Amongst the best chestnut chasers ever with class literally written over him..Easter Hero won 2 successive cheltenham Gold cups in 1929 and 1930 and the Aintree champion chase in 1931.Won both his Cheltenham Gold cup treating rivals with contempt as few have ever done winning mercilessly by 20 lengths. In his 1st gold cup mercilessly crushed Lloydie to the ground to win undeterred by 20 lengths ,that to after setting a scorching pace His 2nd win was achieved making severe blunders at the 1st and 2nd fence, and benefited by the fall of Gib who ran all cylinders to challenge him at the 2nd last.

    One of the most heroic losers ever of the Grand National in 1929,when finishing runner up.His shoe broke which cost him an almost certain victory to enable Gregalach to cruise past him to win by 6 lengths.

    Sadly fell at Becher’s Brook when in pursuit of Grand National glory in 1930.

    11. Captain Christy

    The closest Irish chaser to Arkle . In 1975 King George virtually ressurected the immortal icon winning by crushing the legendary Bula to win by 30 lengths. It was one of the merciless demolition sever in a plum chasing event, reminiscent of a combing operation.

    A succesful hurdler capturing the Scottish and Irish titles.

    In the 1974 Gold cup overtook previous year’s winner The Dikler with utmost conviction sparing 5 lengths at the post. Maybe benefited by fall suffered from Pendil .The win was categorized by the Times sports page as the greatest ressurection since Lazaraus.

    His other wins included the Irish Sweeps Hurdle,Scottish Champion Hurdle,Irish Champion Hurdle,Power Gold cup and Cheltenham Gold Cup .

    Jockey Bob Beasley played a major role as an architect in shaping the wins of this icon.

    12. Cottage Rake

    Won a hat trick of Gold cups in succession combining every ingredient of a champion chaser. Lit the first spark in the Illustrious career of late Vincent O’Brien.Displayed top acceleration to win his 1st Gold cup in 1949, going away from Happy Home.Jockey Brabazon revealed that the horse had such speed that he could afford to ease him over the last few fences and still whistle past Happy Home in the run -in ,inspite of faltering at the last fence. It was a virtual repeat of the story the following year with Cottage Rake displaying sensational acceleration to overpower Cool Customer. However in 1949 like a galleon in full sail he won untouched .by a margin of ten lengths. Few chasers conserved as much energy till the final run in ,to unleash a final burst like Cottgae Rake in the Gold Cup.

    13. L’Escargot

    Won 2 successive Gold cup sin 1970 and 1971 and a Grand National in 1975.No chaser ever beat Red Rum with such authority.

    Hard-pressed to win his 1st cheltenham gold cup in 1970 after being confronted in an intense battle in the run in with French Tan, prevailing by margin of one and a half lengths. In 1970 crushed his rivals like a Tiger mercilessly tearing his prey, sparing 10 lengths over runner up Leap Frog at the post.

    In 1975 receiving 11lbs and being favoured by soft ground crushed his adversary Red Rum by 15 lengths. It was a performance that ranked amongst the best or most authoritative ever in National Hunt racing. There could be no fitting crowning moment for chaser or any athlete.

    14. Burrough Hill Lad

    One of the most versatile chasers to ever stride the turf.Posessed the class to win a King George, the immense reserves of stamina to win the Welsh National and the relentless courage to overcome top handicappers in a Hennesy gold cup .Apart from Arkle and Mill House the only horse to win the Hennesy Gold Cup and King George.
    Won an unforgettable Gold cup in 1984 when overpowering Wayward Lad and thwarting off contest for supremacy from Brown Chamberlain and Drumlargan .Mustered all the adrelanin possible to coast home down the hill to win by 3 lengths.
    In the Hennessy Gold Cup bore the burden of 12 stone to win with the utmost conviction by 4 lengths. There is hardly an adjective that can do just to the manner he flew away from his rivals after the second last,making them look like leaves tossed in a gale. Amongst those he beat included Sun Allinace Chase winner Canny Danny ,Drumlargan and previous years runner up Gaye Chance.

    Combined speed with tenacity and courage as few chasers ever did to constitute the perfect chaser.His victories included the Hennesy Gold cup,King George 6th chase,Cheltenham Gold cup and French Grand national.
    Won the French Grand National with the courage of an army battalion resurrecting from the grave to reach the pinnacle of glory. After being 7 lengths behind the leader 2 out the Mandarin with Fred Winter flew like a plane taking of a runaway to snatch the lead. Simply the ultimate embodiment of courage after the bit had broken in the horse’s mouth. It could take a seperate book to do justice in describing the sheer sensationalism of his performance, which was the equivalent of an epic.
    In the 1962 Gold cup he triumphed inspite of being affected by a series of injuries. In the run in he went past Ireland’s Fortria.
    Won the 1957 Hennesy Gold cup by 3 lengths from Linwell, displaying great fortitude .4 years later won the same race with a spectacular leap at the last to leave challenger Olympia in the cold.

    15=Moscow Flyer

    Equivalent of a Dr.Jeckyl and Mr Hyde and similar to a flawed genius.On his day could sit with the Gods of Olympus taking thorougbred prowess to its zenith.On others day he could reveal mediocrity at its helm.His win in the 2002 Queen Mother Champion chase is amongst the most memorable in steeplechasing history,when he won inspite of a minor mishap at the fourth fence.Conquered stars like Florida Pearl ,Edredon Bleu and Uberalles.

    Won 26 out of 44 starts and unbeaten in 23 chases before being beaten at Punchestown in 2005.Caught the public eye for the first time in the 2003 Queen Mother Champion Chase vanquishing stars like Florida Pearl,Edredon Bleu and Flagship Uberalles.In 2 mile chases there has rarely been a chaser who has displayed more authority.He simply made mincemeat of his rival sin the Tingle December 2004.

    Regained the Queen mother champion chase crown with a spectacular ressurection in 2005,becoming only the 2nd horse to re-capture the title.

    Also scored memorable win sin the Melling ,Tingle Creek and Tied Cottage Chases ,which he won twice.

    Ex RubyLightEx RubyLight
    • Total Posts 1575

    Sorry, but I can’t have Red Rum ahead of Kauto Star. Are we talking about handicaps or about genuine Grade 1s????? Kauto Star is way ahead of Rummy, no matter how popular the latter might be.

    • Total Posts 96

    @ExRubyLight You are very correct in terms of pure class.However remember Red Rum’s achievement of winning three Grand nationals and 2 runner up berths is so phenomenal that it will possibly never be equalled.You have a valid point but bot Arkle and Desert Orchid were better handicappers than Kauto.Would yuo rate Kuato star at the top-ahead of Arkle or Golden Miller?I very much contemplated placing Arkle at Top and Kauto 2nd or 3rd.On pure ability that was the order.

    • Total Posts 96

    @ExRubyLight I have considered your viewpoint and made an alteration demoting Red Rum to fifth place,behind Kauto and Dessie.Kindly let me know your overall view son my ranking.

    Ex RubyLightEx RubyLight
    • Total Posts 1575

    I might be happy about Kauto being ahead of Rummy now, but it still remains quite difficult to rate the best from GB and Ireland over such a long period of time.

    It’s always nice to read such top 15 lists, but I couldn’t tell you much about the rest.

    • Total Posts 8

    Expect a load of rheumy-eyed stuff about Arkle!

    He Didnt Like Ground
    • Total Posts 444

    We don’t see the top horses carrying monster weights in hcaps anymore , training has now changed , the reason dessie and rummy are loved is because they managed to do it , it’s why I pref Denman to Kauto , it’s why I love Native River ( and hope he can do the same in 2021 GN ) oh and Lester told Findlay Denman was better than arkle

    • Total Posts 473

    Ted Walsh said Flyingbolt was better than Arkle.

    • Total Posts 96

    @patriot1 @HeDidntlikeGround Do you feel a fair comparison can be made between likes of Kauto Star and Denman with those of other eras like Arkle and Golden Miller?

    • Total Posts 473

    I don’t think you can make a fair or accurate comparison between different eras but that won’t stop us trying :-)

    This is just a bit of fun.

    These days the top chasers run in conditions races which is why we were delighted to see Denman giving lumps of weight away in the Hennessy.

    For those of us not around at the time of Arkle he seems an almost mythical horse with tales of rewriting the handicap rules. Whereas Flyingbolt performed similar feats of weight carrying but suffers in comparison to Arkle because he didn’t run in a Gold Cup and just as importantly there is almost no film of him in action.

    I’m sure back in the mid sixties similar arguments were going on about Golden Miller and the Dreaper pair.

    • Total Posts 5114

    These threads are good fun and Harshthakor is obviously smitten with the noble game :-) but his lists strike me as essentially a subjective roll call of horses and performances which have left the deepest impression, rather than quantifiable assessments ratings-wise of that abstract quality ‘best’

    That being the case, the two most jaw-droppingly impressive – and hence ‘best’ – performamnces I’ve had the pleasure to have seen in getting on for 50 years watching steeplechasers have both been by Denman: his Gold Cup and second Hennessy


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