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Last Updated: Monday, 3 March, 2003, 18:22 GMT
Chasing greats
A look back at some of the greatest horses in the history of steeplechasing.

Red Rum

Red Rum wins the Grand National for a record-breaking third time in 1977
Red Rum records his historic third Grand National win
Red Rum's name has become synonymous with the Grand National.

The Ginger McCain-trained horse won the world's most famous steeplechase three times and was second twice, a phenomenal record that will surely never be surpassed.

Red Rum's early career was blighted by foot injury but then he was sent to McCain, whose method of exercising his horses on the beach at Southport paid dividends.

Red Rum's first success in Aintree's big race was in 1973 when he overhauled top weight Crisp's huge lead and snatched victory on the line.

The following year, Red Rum himself was top weight but defied that to win again - and just three weeks later, he shouldered 11st 13lb to victory in the Scottish Grand National.

For the next two years, Red Rum had to settle for second at Aintree.

But in 1977, at the age of 12, he romped home by 25 lengths to create history by becoming the first horse to win the race three times.

It was intended that he should try for a fourth win in 1978 but a leg injury caused him to be withdrawn from the race the day before and he never raced again.

Even in retirement, he was a crowd-puller and was a regular in the Grand National parade and at various public events.

He died in October 1995, and is buried by the winning post at Aintree.

Desert Orchid

Desert Orchid always gave his all
Desert Orchid always gave his all
"Dessie" had a front-running and bold jumping style that caught the imagination of the broader public.

In his first race, he fell at the last fence and lay motionless for several minutes, leaving his connections to fear the worst - but he turned out to be only winded.

The gutsy grey proved versatile, winning top-class races over distances from two miles to 3m4f.

He made the King George VI Chase at Kempton his own, winning a record four times and also coming second once.

But his most memorable triumph came in the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Popular wisdom held that Desert Orchid could never win racing's blue riband event because it was a left-handed track and he had a strong preference for going right-handed.

Furthermore, the ground on the day was much softer than he liked but he produced a typically battling display to hold off Yahoo and clinch victory.

Desert Orchid was retired after the King George in 1991 but still makes regular celebrity appearances at the racetrack and special events.

Arkle

Arkle jumps the last fence in the 1965 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Arkle is widely rated as the best steeplechaser of all-time
Generally held to be the best chaser of all-time, Arkle won 22 of his 26 races over fences.

He won three Cheltenham Gold Cups and also claimed the King George VI Chase, the Hennessy Gold Cup, the Whitbread Gold Cup and the Irish National.

Arkle's battles with his contemporary Mill House in the mid-1960s became one of the most exciting racing rivalries of all-time.

Trained by Tom Dreaper in Ireland, Arkle made famous the colours of Anne, Duchess of Westminster.

He is one of just three horses to have been honoured with a statue at Cheltenham, the home of National Hunt.

His career was halted at its peak - aged nine, he cracked the pedal bone in his off-fore hoof when coming second in the 1966 King George VI Chase.

He never raced again and was put down on 31 May 1970 at the age of 13.

Golden Miller

Golden Miller won five Gold Cups in a row
Golden Miller won five Gold Cups in a row
Golden Miller remains the only horse to have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same season.

This historic double came in 1934 in the middle of his run of five consecutive Gold Cup victories, the first of which came when he was just five.

The most famous of his Cheltenham quintet was in 1935 when he beat his old rival Thormond II by three-quarters of a length.

At that time, he was trained by Basil Briscoe although he was switched to the stable of Owen Anthony later in his career after Briscoe fell out with his owner, the honourable Dorothy Paget.

Having won 29 of his 54 races, Golden Miller was retired in 1939 and died in 1957.

His Gold Cup achievements are commemorated by a statue at Cheltenham.





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