Horse racing is a sport where anything can happen and some of the most memorable races have gone on to serve as a testament to this. It has evolved from a slow, endurance-based sport from centuries ago to the fast-paced thrilling experience it is today. And it’s these fast-paced races that have provided fans with some of the most spectacular finishes in history. Here are a handful of the most iconic moments in horse racing.
Secretariat’s Fastest Wins
Secretariat is one of the best-known and successful race horses in history and with good reason. He was one of 12 horses to have ever won the Triple Crown, but it wasn’t breaking the drought of Triple Crown winners that earned him his most memorable moment. For each Triple Crown race, he still holds the fastest time. He won the Kentucky Derby in 1 minute 59.4 seconds, the Preakness Stakes in 1:53 and the Belmont in 2:24 – an achievement never beaten.
Crisp vs. Red Rum in 1973
Spectators of the 1973 Grand National were not prepared for the most spectacular catch up in history when they watched Crisp and Red Rum battle it out for victory. Crisp had dominated the race, despite carrying the highest amount of weight in the field, and when he reached the second to last fence and leading by 20 lengths, a win seemed like a sure bet. But it was the grueling pace he’d maintained throughout the race that caught up with him first and he began to slow. Red Rum snuck past crisp on the home straight and won the first of what would be three Grand Nationals.
Arkle and Mill House in 1964
At the Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup in 1964, fans were provided with an exhilarating race, led by Arkle and Mill House. Mill House had a small advantage for much of the race, but as they approached the last fence, Arkle and his jockey Pat Taaffe shot down the hill and were showing no signs of giving up. Taaffe steered Arkle over the final hurdle and allowed him to really show off his speed skills as they belted along the home stretch, winning by five lengths. The footage of the two champions descending the hill is one of the most amazing and riveting moments in horse racing.
Mandarin’s Grand Steeplechase De Paris Win
In 1962, Mandarin’s jockey, Fred Winter, experienced all riders’ worst nightmare when Mandarin’s bit crumbled early on in the race. He had no real way of controlling the horse, but he continued on, communicating to each other in a seemingly telepathic way. At one of the last fences, Mandarin fell and landed on a bent foreleg, but still they battled through, determined to win the title. The strong-willed horse managed to take the victory by a head, and it remains one of the most inspiring examples of grit and determination from both the race horse and jockey in horse racing to this day.