While creative literary works about horses is definitely food for the soul, it’s also important to see factual points in history with man’s working relationship with the equine species. As Winston Churchill once said, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” Horse racing may have had a rough start of sorts, but all sports eventually evolve for the betterment of all those who are in it, including the horses themselves. A report in the NY Times is proof that we’ve come a long way by addressing problems for both horse and jockey, treating them as members of the team and family. In Stewart Peter’s Festival Gold, we look at some of the most important movers and shakers that made Cheltenham Festival a grand tradition and a burgeoning empire of hoofs.
Festival Gold pays tribute to thoroughbreds that changed the face of the Cheltenham Festival and in horse racing, no legend is bigger than Arkle’s. Arkle, an Irish thoroughbred racehorse, came from a long line of champions and won three Cheltenham Gold Cups despite his career being cut short by injury. His performance, according to BBC, has come to represent the pinnacle of achievement in jump racing. It is no question why this legend is simply known as “Himself”. He was put down in May 31, 1970 with the consent of his owner, the Duchess of Westminster, at an early age of 13. His skeleton is currently on display at the Irish National Stud as a form of tribute and reverence for his iconic role in horse racing. His story is one of overcoming challenges despite debilitating injuries, a trait we previously thought was exclusive to humans.
The Late Queen Mother
Horse racing is the sport of Kings but it wouldn’t be complete without a queen to grace its events. The Queen Mother first took up this interest and was immediately “hooked” after she first attended. She has been horse racing’s biggest and most important benefactor for over 50 years. Since then, royalty has become a permanent and active fixture in horse racing. John Warren, racing manager for the Queen told CNN that, “The British bloodstock industry is very lucky to have a patron such as the queen.” It is expected that the young Prince George will continue this long tradition and play a similar (prominent) role in his future social life. The Queen Mother was honoured at the Cheltenham Festival with one of the races aptly named after her in 1959 for her 80th birthday. This year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase is highly anticipated with the current champion, Sprinter Sacre, trying to recover from injuries to, once again, dominate the Betfair Betting news. As the horse racing industry grows as a sport and a pastime, books like Festival Gold will always be a welcome refresher and a living witness to the success of people and horses alike.