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Arkle – The story of the World’s Greatest Steeplechaser

50th Anniversary Edition


The Story of the World’s Greatest Steeplechaser

By Sean Magee


“An affectionate but clear-headed portrait of a legend”

Daily Telegraph


This revised and updated edition of Sean Magee’s acclaimed celebration of ‘Himself’ is published to mark the 50th anniversary of ‘The day Arkle became a god’.


  1. Arkle was so far ahead of his contemporaries that the handicapping rules had to be changed to accommodate his superiority
  2. He won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times (1964, 1965 and 1966), Hennessy Gold Cup twice, King George VI Chase, Whitbread Gold Cup, Gallaher Gold Cup and Irish Grand National
  3. He regularly conceded huge amounts of weight to rivals in handicaps – and still beat them
  4. In all he ran in 26 steeplechases and won 22 of them
  5. Arkle was put down at the early age of 13 as an arthritic condition worsened, and his skeleton is now at the Irish National Stud in County Kildare
  6. Guinness was a staple part of his daily diet
  7. His career came to an untimely end when in December 1966 he broke a pedal bone in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park
  8. He was ranked by the Timeform organisation as the best steeplechaser of all time, with a rating of 212 – twenty pounds superior to the current jumping superstar Sprinter Sacre and way ahead of other equine heroes like Desert Orchid (187) and Kauto Star (191)
  9. In Ireland he was a true national hero, commemorated on stamps as well as through song, poetry, art and drama
  10. In a Racing Post poll in 2004, Arkle was voted readers’ favourite racehorse ever, despite the fact that he had not raced for nearly four decades.  He won the vote by a wide margin from Desert Orchid, with Red Rum third

Arkle: The Story of the World’s Greatest Steeplechaser is published on 28th February by Racing Post Books priced £16.99.  It is available from and all good bookshops.

SEAN MAGEE is the author of many books on horse racing, including Ascot: The history (2002), Lester’s Derbys, with Lester Piggott (2004), and The Injured Jockeys’ Fund: Celebrating fifty years (2013).