Published on April 8th, 2017 | by Michelle Roper-Shaw0
Racehorse Legends: And They Are Off!!
The Grand National is one of the highlights of the sporting year. It takes place this afternoon at Aintree. So, today there is no better time to celebrate some racehorse legends.
Horse racing has been popular for centuries. It is now the second biggest spectator sport in the country. Over the years several exceptional horses have captured the hearts of the nation and become household names.
Celebrating Racehorse Legends
The Racehorse Legends special stamps celebrate eight horses that definitely merit the title of ‘racehorse legend’. They have been selected by collaboration with experts from Great British Racing and the Racing Post.
Each special stamp image has been taken from specially commissioned paintings by renowned equestrian artist Michael Heslop. They show the equine heroes in the actual races that made them legends of the racetrack. All eight special stamps feature in the stunning Racehorse Legends Presentation Pack.
The horses celebrated are:
- Frankel – A flat-racing legend unbeaten in his 14-race career. This is the top rated horse in the world since the World Best Racehorse Rankings were initiated in 1977. He was ridden throughout his racing days by Tom Queally. His greatest race was the 2000 Guineas in 2011.
- Red Rum – A National Hunt legend voted the third favourite horse by Racing Post readers. He is the only horse to have won the Grand National three times. He was ridden by Tommy Stack in his greatest race, the 1977 Grand National.
- Shergar – A flat-racing legend who was the 1978 European Horse of the Year. He rode in the Epsom Derby in 1981 and had the longest winning margin in that race’s history.
- Kauto Star – A National Hunt legend whose huge 36-length victory enabled him to replace Desert Orchid as the top-rated steeplechaser. This took place at the 2009 King George VI Chase when he was ridden by Ruby Walsh.
- Desert Orchid – A National Hunt legend who beat Red Rum to second place on the Racing Post readers’ favourite horses list. His greatest race was back in 1989 at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
- Brigadier Gerard – A flat-racing legend who won 17 of his 18 races. He was the British Horse of the Year back in 1972 and number 5 on the Racing Post readers’ favourite horses list. His greatest race was in 1971 in the 2000 Guineas when he was ridden by Joe Mercer. He beat Mill Reef in that race, who was his great contemporary.
- Arkle – A National Hunt legend who won 27 of his 35 starts. He was voted number one favourite horse by the readers of Racing Post. His greatest race was back in 1964 at the Cheltenham Gold Cup when he was ridden by Pat Taaffe. The dramatic win came as he dethroned Mill House and showed his greatness for the first time.
- Estimate – A flat-racing legend who won the 2013 Gold Cup at Ascot. He was the first horse owned by a reigning monarch to do so. It is very rare that a horse becomes a legend from just one race, but this is one of those exceptions.
Today’s Grand National
Those who watch the build-up to today’s Grand National are likely to hear more than once that history is all against The Last Samuri.
Forty-three years have passed since Red Rum conceded weight to all his rivals. However, the nature of the National has changed considerably since 1974 and we are no longer comparing like with like. For starters, Red Rum had to carry 12st (the weight of the jockey, saddle and lead weights combined) and 27 of his rivals had 10st 5lb or less to carry, with 15 carrying the minimum of 10st.
Twelve months ago, The Last Samuri beat all bar the now-retired Rule The World in the iconic race. The nine-year-old confirmed his relish for Aintree’s unique spruce fences in December when finishing a close third in the Becher Chase and will be trying to go one place better this afternoon.
Owner Paul Rooney, 69, is originally from London and probably does not need the £561,000 first prize because his wealth was valued at £110m in the 2016 Sunday Times Rich List.
Whoever wins this prestigious race will hold aloft a new trophy for the first time in the race’s history. New sponsors Randox Health will be presenting a new silver trophy to each of the winners over the next five years of their sponsorship deal. Hallmarked at the prestigious Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office, in the City of London, this year’s design was created by silversmith Shannon O’Neill. It has been described as:
“An ornate work of art, laced with images depicting the speed, agility and excitement of jump racing, and decorated with a red stone.”
May the best horse and jockey win.