Weighed in, weighed in. Cheltenham 2014 is underway

11 March 2014

The Cheltenham Festival kicks off today, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Arkle’s winning streak of 3 consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups, from 1964-1966. Here he is winning in both ’64 and ’65:

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Known to many racing fans simply as ‘Himself’, no other horse has even come close to beating his astounding triple in the Gold Cup. Indeed when he first ran, in 1964, many believed that his rival Mill House was invincible. But beaten he was, and Arkle went on to be thought of as at least one of the greatest – if not the greatest – steeplechaser in history. Nowadays many racehorses are household names – just think of Black Caviar, or Frankel. But Arkle was the very first to establish himself as a media star.

Mill House (right) and Arkle in the 1965 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Mill House (right) and Arkle in the 1965 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Image: Getty

The Racing Post Arkle Challenge, established in 1969 in memory of Arkle, has attracted an array of brilliant horses over the years. Probably the most spectacular was Sprinter Sacre, who won in 2012 by seven lengths, after which he was described as being ‘in a league of his own’.

Sprinter Sacre (L), wins 'The Arkle' in 2012. Image: Getty

Sprinter Sacre (L), wins ‘The Arkle’ in 2012. Image: Getty

So what of this year’s runners? Nicky Henderson is hoping for a triple, after following on from Sprinter Sacre’s triumph with a win from Simonsig last year. His Grandouet is currently at 10/1 with William Hill, but Willie Mullins also fancies his chances with the current favourite, Champagne Fever, who has won twice before at Cheltenham. But when it comes to horses, who can tell?

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  • Bert3000

    Betting is just about the stupidest thing a person can do with money.

    • Perpetually Astonished

      There are not an awful lot of things you can do with money that do not involve, to a greater or lesser extent, a gamble upon a hoped for outcome. But even if you discount that, the prudence of gambling depends rather a lot on the odds of winning, the prize for winning in relation to the amount required for the bet, and in many cases – horse racing and investment banking being but two of them – the information you possess. Still, I share your reluctance to bet, and don’t do so if I can avoid it. Letting others gamble with my pension pot is, however, just plain unavoidable.

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