This article will look at the illustrious yet short career of Best Mate, thought of by many horse racing experts including myself, as possibly the best horse to ever jump over fences.
As there is just so much to include in this article, I have split it into two parts for ease of reading.
Best Mate – A Very Special Horse Indeed
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but words like ‘special’, ‘great’, ‘class’ and ‘legend’ tend to be overused in sporting circles these days.
With Best Mate however, they all apply… in abundance.
Before I talk about his career, his achievements and the factors that made him great as a racehorse, I’d like to just give my own personal views first, as this truly was a special horse to me.
Best Mate – 1995 to 2005
And it is with a lump in my throat that I use the word ‘was’, because unfortunately for his owners, his trainers and stable hands, the jockeys that rode him, the racing public and me, Best Mate is no longer with us.
Best Mate was born on 28 January 1995 to his Sire (father) – Un Desperado and his Dam (mother) – Katday. This in itself makes him special to me as he shares his birthday with my son, who was also born on 28 January.
He was a beautiful, majestic bay gelding who really had a lot of character about him, and whenever I saw him at the racecourse he always seemed to be enjoying himself.
He also brought me a lot of luck at the course, winning for me on more than one occasion. Best Mate seemed to have a certain
style, and certain elegance about how he did things too, and he stood out amongst his fellow horses.
Best Mate’s Career
His record is one to admire and shows just how classy a horse the Jim Lewis owned gelding was. The first statistic that
stands out is his three consecutive victories in the challenging and gruelling Cheltenham Gold Cup.
To win this great once is no mean feat, but to win it three times, and consecutively (2002, 2003 and 2004) is quite
remarkable and has only ever been done once before, by the great horse Arkle.
In all of his races, Best Mate was never out of the first two places. This is an amazing statistic and outlines the standard
that the he set. Trainer Henrietta Knight is understandably very proud of his career and she should be.
In all, he won 14 out of his 22 starts and came second in seven. His impressive 14 victories are listed below:
Martell Mersey Novice Hurdle, April 2000
Independent Novice Chase, November 2000
Scilly Isles Novice Chase, February 2001
Peterborough Chase, November 2001
Cheltenham Gold Cup, March 2002
Peterborough Chase, November 2002
King George VI Gold Cup, December 2002
Cheltenham Gold Cup, March 2003
Ericsson Chase, December 2003
Cheltenham Gold Cup, March 2004
William Hill Chase, November 2004
You will no doubt have noticed, that I mentioned that he’d never finished outside of the top two in any race, yet 14 victories and seven second place finishes equals 21 and not 22 right?
Well, the reason for this will be explained in Part Two of this article as will the remainder of the story about every horse racing fan’s mate, Best Mate.
Cliff Thurston owns the successful Grosvenor Racing Club, and has been giving his members winning horse racing tips since 2003.