The most famous racehorses were not only great champions who won the main world competitions, but also the embodiment of the perfection and beauty of a thoroughbred.
When thoroughbred horses arrived in the West from the Middle East over three hundred years ago, horse races have been revolutionized.
The English thoroughbred has its origins from three oriental stallions, considered almost legendary: the bay ByerLey Turk, the dark bay Darley Arabian and the dark bay Godolphin Barb. Yet it is not enough to be a thoroughbred to enter history. Tens of thousands of these horses have been bred and run all over the world, but only a handful of them have become the most famous racehorses in the world.
Here is, for all the enthusiasts, a roundup of the racehorses counted among the most famous in history …
ECLIPSE (1764 – 1789)
It was probably the greatest racehorse of the 18th century, winning all eighteen races of his career. His undertakings are also remembered today, thanks to important competitions called in his honor (Group 1 Eclipse Stakes, France’s Prix Eclipse and US Eclipse Horse Racing Awards).
WEST AUSTRALIAN (1850 – 1870)
In 1853, it was the first racehorse in history to win both the UK Triple Crown and Epsom Derby and the St. Leger Stakes.
FLYNG FOX (1896 – 1911)
It was one of the most famous racehorses of the Victorian era. He has run for only two years, but in this short period he has defeated all his opponents.
MAN O’WAR (1917 – 1947)
He has won nine of his first ten races, continuing to dominate in some of the most famous races in the United States. He retired in 1920 after receiving the Horse of the Year Award. Many experts consider it the most beautiful race horse of all time.
PHAR LAP (1926 – 1932)
Born in New Zealand, he spent most of his career in Australia, where he won the most prestigious races in the country, including the Melbourne Cup, Victoria Derby and Cox Plate. His career ended tragically, poisoned with arsenic.
SEABISCUIT (1933 – 1947)
Descendant of the famous Man O ‘War, he began his career very badly, losing his first 17 races. Only when he passed into the hands of coach Tom Smith, he managed to pull out all his potential, winning the most important races in the United States. He received the US Horse of the Year Award for his heroism in the competition.
ARKLE (1957 – 1970)
Known for its versatility, it has won races over various distances and various terrain conditions, winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup for three consecutive years, the Hennessy Gold Cup twice, the King George V Chase and the Punches town Gold Cup.
SEA-BIRD (1962 – 1972)
British thoroughbred, he became famous in the second part of his career winning the Epsom Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomph.
RED RUM (1965 – 1995)
Born with an incurable and debilitating bone disease, this English horse managed to win the Grand National three times in five years. He lived up to the age of 30 years.
NIJINSKY (1967 – 1992)
He managed to win the Triple Crown in 1969, something that hadn’t happened for years. He won the 2000 Guineas Stakes, the Epsom Derby and the Irish Derby, but also the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the St. Leger Stakes.
SECRETARIAT (1970 – 1989)
That this horse was destined for great things was evident from his career, so much so that he immediately won the Horse of the Year Award. Among his memorable feats, there is the victory of the Kentucky Derby in less than two minutes, starting from the last position.
MAKYBE DIVA (1999 – alive)
Makybe Diva has outperformed some of the best foals in the world. He set the record of three victories in the Melbourne Cup and won other important titles including the Cox Plate and the Sydney Cup. It was the most profitable racehorse in Australian history.
ZENYATTA (2004 – alive)
It is unlikely that another mare could ever match Zenyatta’s conquests. He competed for four seasons and twenty races, suffering only one defeat. His biggest success was the Breeders’ Cup 2009, when he defeated great champions.
SEA THE STARS (2006 – alive)
Few would have imagined that this horse would be a winner when he finished his first race in fourth place. However, from that moment on, he would no longer lose a race. He triumphed at the 2000 Guineas Stakes, the Epsom Derby, the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes, the International Stakes and the Irish Champion Stakes.
FRANKEL (2008 – alive)
It is considered by experts to be the greatest racehorse in the history of British thoroughbreds. Throughout his career, which lasted fourteen races, Frankel was never beaten.
AMERICAN PHAROAH (2012 – alive)
37 years had passed since the last horse had won the American Triple Crown. But American Phroah succeeded in the enterprise, consecrating himself among the greatest champions of all time.