Just like any other sport, horse racing has its fair share of defining moments. If you’re a horse racing fan (and you certainly should be), then you’ll probably already be able to bring a fair few of them to mind; those moments that you’ll tell other people about for years to come, the moments that you’ll remember fondly if you’re an enthusiast. Of course, it isn’t possible to recap every amazing thing that has happened throughout the storied history of the sport. Still, we wanted to pay homage to this incredible pastime, so here, without further ado, are some of the greatest moments in horse racing history.
Alright, we’re copping out a little here with our first entry, but we want to draw attention to just how iconic the Royal Ascot is as an event. It’s one of the most important moments on the horse racing calendar, and so literally any win, any horse that crosses the finish line, is a special moment. We’re going to throw our lot in for the 2021 race, though; Berkshire Shadow’s victory was special in an event that trainer Andrew Balding told Betway is “the focal point of what we (horse racing professionals) try to achieve”.
At the time that American Pharoah took home the Triple Crown victory, it had been a stunning 37 years since any horse had achieved the feat. American Pharoah had already won the Kentucky Derby and followed that victory up with another stunner at the Preakness Stakes, so now it was all down to the Belmont Stakes. At the beginning of the race, it didn’t look like American Pharoah was going to take the crown, but then he picked up the pace and left his competitors in the dirt. His Belmont Stakes win was the second-fastest ever, behind Secretariat (not a bad place to be!).
Horse racing enthusiasts will already know the name of Mine That Bird, but if you haven’t heard the tale, draw up a chair. Conditions were awful for Mine That Bird’s race in the 2009 Kentucky Derby; the rain had poured overnight, which meant the ground was the perfect consistency for getting stuck. Mine That Bird’s start was horrible, but he quickly found his hooves and ended up 6-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of the competition by the time of the last half-furlong. Mine That Bird’s victory would go down in history as the fastest Kentucky Derby win since Secretariat’s 1973 victory.
Secretariat is another horse completely deserving of his immense fame. Back in 1973, Secretariat was ready to break records, and that’s exactly what he did when he ran the Belmont Stakes. The course is a mile and a half long, and Secretariat managed to run it in a staggering 2 minutes, 24 seconds. That’s a record that still stands today, which means that the Belmont Stakes has arguably never seen a horse as special as Secretariat was. He would go on to sire daughters who would then mother several successful racehorses, so Secretariat’s line was just as powerful as he was.
When you think about horse racing clashes of the titans, this race between Grundy and Bustino has to qualify. Four years after Steven Spielberg released his taut masterpiece Duel, another tense battle between two great rivals was due to take place. Right out of the gate, it wasn’t obvious who was going to win; both Grundy and Bustino were furious monsters battling for dominance. Neither was far ahead enough to guarantee victory until Grundy managed to edge ahead, securing the win and putting his name in the history books. To this day, both horses are remembered as legends.
There’s a good reason that Red Rum is one of the most famous horses of all time. Of course, the horse has managed to achieve a number of stunning victories in his time, but almost none are as stunning as his incredible win at the Grand National in 1973. Crisp was set to dominate the race; indeed, he’d been ahead for some time, and being ahead by a staggering 20 lengths, it was pretty much guaranteed that he would win. Unfortunately, his opponent was the legendary Red Rum, who managed to inch past Crisp right at the end of the race, claiming victory by a single quarter of a length. Close!
One of the most famous pieces of horse racing commentary ever to grace the microphone came in 1981, when Shergar was racing at the Epsom Derby. Shergar was, of course, the favourite to win the Derby; after all, this is Shergar we’re talking about. However, nobody was quite prepared for just how decisive Shergar’s win would be. As he began to open up his lead, commentator Peter Bromley proclaimed that you would “need a telescope” to see the other horses in the race, so massive was Shergar’s lead. Suffice it to say that Shergar achieved victory that day.
In 2008, the legendary horse Kauto Star suffered an embarrassing setback as he lost to the horse Denman by seven lengths at Cheltenham. Kauto Star had been the favourite at that competition, so his loss was especially jarring (although both horses had been trained by Paul Nicholls, so really, the victory was his). However, in 2009, it was all to play for, and Kauto Star clearly wanted his crown back. He went on to destroy Denman by an astonishing 13 lengths, easily winning back his title and becoming the first ever horse to do so.