For most horseracing enthusiasts around the world the world, there is no more thrilling sight than watching the very best chasers soaring over the biggest fences, taking lengths out of their rivals, and still having the energy left to sprint up the hill at the Cheltenham Festival, or gallop all the way up the long straight at Aintree.
Of course ratings aren’t everything, as few horses have endeared themselves to the public as much as triple Grand National winner Red Rum – who doesn’t even make the list of top-20 highest-rated chasers – but here are the top 5 rated chasers of all time.
Arkle – Rating 212
Despite winning his last race in 1966, the hunt for the next Arkle continues in National Hunt Racing circles, which remains the truest testament of just how good he was. He won 3 consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups, winning the 1964 renewal by 5-lengths, before winning the next two by 20-lengths and 30-lengths. However, what really sets Arkle apart from the rest was his ability to concede masses of weight to his rivals in some of the biggest handicaps. He twice carried the welter burden of 12-7 to win the Hennessy Gold Cup, and conceded 2½ stone to his rivals when winning the Irish Grand National. He also won a Punchestown Gold Cup and a Whitbread, though many think his finest hour came when conceding 16lb to Mill House in the Gallagher Gold Cup, smashing the course record by an astonishing 17 seconds in the process.
Flying Bolt – Rating 210
Flying Bolt was a top-class hurdler, winning the Supreme Novices Hurdle and the Irish Champion Hurdle, but really excelled when sent over fences over which he remained unbeaten in 11 starts. In his first year chasing he won the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham, whilst amazingly the following year he returned to Cheltenham to win the Champion Chase, before stepping-up to 26-furlongs to win the Irish Grand National in the same season, conceding 40lb and 42lb to the placed horses.
Sprinter Sacre – Rating 192
From the moment Sprinter Sacre started his novice chase career, he had the ability to produce prodigious leaps that made crowds catch their breath, and he was scintillating in winning at both the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals. He then repeated the trick by winning the following season’s Champion Chase and Melling Chase. However, connections also decided to head to Ireland after those races and, though he won the Punchestown Champion Chase, he then went through two years of illnesses and injuries. A shadow of his former self in this period, many people thought he should be retired. Thankfully, he wasn’t and he made history by regaining the title of Champion Chaser three years after relinquishing his crown – a victory that brought tears to many an eye.
Mill House – Rating 191
Whilst most owners would give their right arm to own a horse capable of winning a Hennessey Gold Cup, a Whitbread Gold Cup, a King George, and a Cheltenham Gold Cup – Mill House is deemed in most quarters to be one of the unluckiest racehorses of all time. That’s because he spent most of his career trying and failing to beat Arkle, without whose existence he would have had the most impressive of CV’s.
Kauto Star – Rating 191
A French horse that came with a reputation even bigger than his price-tag, his first season in England will always be remembered for him falling at Exeter before Ruby Walsh remounted to nearly get back-up to win. However, he was injured after that, and that resulted in the rule that jockeys couldn’t remount in a race. After returning from injury, he took the racing world by storm, winning two Tingle Creeks over two-miles, four Betfair Chases, a record five King Georges, and two Cheltenham Gold Cups. However, his most impressive feat was having the ability to regain both his King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup crowns, after many had said he should be retired.
To put the merits of those 5 horses performances into perspective, here are some of the ratings of other great horses of the modern era. Moscow Flyer (184), Long Run (184), Denman (183), Don Cossack (183), Best Mate (182).