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The Greatest Race Of All Time.

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    Posted: 21 Jun 2022 at 11:23am
The Racing Post asked ten big racing names to write about what they think is the greatest race of all time, before putting their choices to a public vote.





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In part one of the series, Brough Scott nominates Arkle v Mill House in the 1964 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The day remains like no other. For it is what happened before as much as afterwards that still sets Arkle and Mill House's 1964 Gold Cup in a special category of racing heaven.

Never before, and certainly never since, have two such heralded champions come together for so anticipated a showdown. But while it was the start of Arkle's superstardom, it's easy to forget how much Mill House had been hailed as a second Pegasus. Why, hadn't he already put Arkle in his place four months earlier in the Hennessy?

"For us," wrote John Lawrence (Lord Oaksey) the next day, "he was what Shakespeare must have been to the Elizabethans on the first night of Hamlet, what Garbo was on the screen, Fonteyn on the Covent Garden stage, Caruso at La Scala, Matthews at Wembley, Bradman at the Oval."

Okay, John was dipping his pen in purple, but he himself had won the first Hennessy Gold Cup five years earlier, was the greatest racing writer of his or any era, and was only colouring what most of us were thinking.

For the sight of Mill House in full sail was something to wonder. He was big, black and handsome with a vivid white star on his forehead. He could look almost heavy in the paddock but out on the track he skipped over fences as if he had wings. Arkle's rider Pat Taaffe knew all about him for when Mill House moved to Fulke Walwyn he wrote to Willie Robinson, the stable jockey, to say that he would be riding "the best horse in Britain – and possibly in the world".

And Pat would know because he had jumped gates and walls on Mill House out hunting as a three-year-old before the horse went into training with Pat's father Tom, and Pat had been on board when Mill House won his first hurdle race the following March.

However, the early road to glory was anything but smooth. Bought during the summer by the over-enthusiastic Bill Gollings, sent to Syd Dale in Epsom, and ridden by the wholly unsuitable Ron Harrison, Mill House turned over at the first hurdle on his British debut, was pitched in against the Champion Hurdle winner on his second, landed a coup at Wincanton on his third and then, as a huge but inexperienced five-year-old, was sent out over fences where he and pea-on-a-drum Ron duly crashed out at the sixth.

Two months later the drums were still beating but heads were all shaking when Mill House reappeared at Cheltenham. This time he was to be in the strong, skilled and fearless hands of Tim Brookshaw. It was the day of my first ride on the track (if you must ask, Arcticeelagh and I finished third to Fred Winter!) and I remember watching awestruck as Tim pulled on the colours (sweaters, not silks, in those days) and went out to ride this errant monster with the same undaunted laugh with which he later faced his years of disablement.

Concerns over Mill House's jumping were immediately justified as he rooted through the first two fences with all the signs of a horse with confidence shot. Brookshaw was most famous for his implacable and now unacceptable force, especially at the last where his special trick was to get the whip going on take-off, mid-air and landing, but that day at Cheltenham was a schooling masterclass. Taking Mill House away from the others, he let him gradually regain belief, did not rejoin the field until the third-last, and then romped home so easily that we now shook heads not in worry but in wonder.

From there the legend only grew. During that summer of 1962 Mill House was moved to Fulke Walwyn in Lambourn, the finest trainer in Britain who had just won his second Gold Cup with the famous Mandarin. Soon there were rumours that Fulke, as well as Willie Robinson, was beginning to think that Pat Taaffe's letter was not too far-fetched and the joy of watching Mill House that winter, culminating in a spring-heeled, confidence-brimming return to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup, stays with us spectators still.

It was this dream that we carried into the Hennessy of 1963, Mill House's first run of the season. He was just six years old. He had it all before him. He was the galactico for which every fan always craves and yet we, and especially I, should have realised that there were already two Gods in that pantheon.

I remember exactly where I was when I first saw the other one, standing by the last for the Honeybourne Novices' Chase on Saturday, November 17, Arkle's first race over fences. I was a 19-year-old amateur already seriously affected by the racing bug and had no defence against the image in front of me.

We had been warned that the Irish thought this lean, greyhound-like, long-eared thing was a bit special, and what happened at the finish was a bit special. There were decent horses against him, but Arkle just skipped the fence and sprinted 20 lengths clear as if he were another species. Perhaps he was.

But despite that, despite the devastating display he put up at the Cheltenham Festival in winning the Broadway Chase (today's Brown Advisory) two days before Mill House's Gold Cup and three subsequent wins before the Hennessy showdown, we were still not convinced. And neither, to be fair, was the handicapper. That's why Mill House was set to give Arkle 5lb at Newbury and when he beat him eight lengths into third place we all assumed our smugness was justified.

Sure, some of the Irish were saying that Arkle had slipped badly three out, but it was one of those damp, soggy November days, none of us saw it and, anyway, they would say that, wouldn't they. Sure, Arkle had been amazing giving away a couple of stone at Leopardstown and Gowran Park, but Mill House had reminded us of his majesty in the King George and the Gainsborough. This was the best horse that Fulke Walwyn had ever trained. John Oaksey had a whole pot of ink at the ready.

Gold Cup day was cold enough for snow showers but there was a trace of wintry sun by Gold Cup time. It was only a four-runner field, but King's Nephew and Pas Seul were pretty good actors for supporting roles. High in the stand, my excitement was doubled as I was changed to ride in the Cathcart at the end of the card.

For a circuit and a half nothing dampened the thought that Mill House was about to give Cheltenham a Gold Cup for the ages. He was regal while Arkle was rank. Ears pricked, white star gleaming, he sailed serenely ahead while Arkle was yawing at the bit with Pat Taaffe at times bolt upright like someone on the losing team of a tug of war.

As they came down the hill towards the ninth, it looked so bad that Peter O'Sullevan said in commentary, "Pat's not having a very happy ride on him at the moment," a remark immediately compounded by Arkle clouting the fence not far above the guard rail.

It was not until they ran up the hill for the final time, the tempo increasing, the others dropped, that Arkle was at the very least a real contender. But it takes a lot to shift a cloak of greatness. Even when Willie Robinson's whip came up as Arkle joined him on the final turn, we believed Mill House would find something to put this usurper away. Arkle jumped a length ahead at the last, but Mill House landed slightly the better and for a moment it looked as if he was closing.

Then he wasn't. He battled on to the line but at the post Arkle was five lengths to the good. There could be no excuses. Mill House galloped on for five more seasons and five gallant victories, including a Whitbread Gold Cup so redolent of lost horizons that grown men cried. But Arkle crushed him in the Hennessy, dismissed him in the Gold Cup, and finally gave him 16lb and a 25-length thrashing at Sandown. The dream had died.

The measure of Arkle's greatness is what he had to overcome that snowy March day in 1964. He brought with him the yearnings of a still struggling nation wanting a champion to call their own and to put it up to their often supercilious bigger neighbour. Arkle delivered all that and more, even enhancing his immortality by the poignancy of his final career-ending defeat.

He did quite wonderful things. He is high in the sporting Valhalla, but the day he first got there was made by the big, white-starred wonder he had to put away. There never was and never will be a race to match it.


'I'd had a month's wages on'

Arkle's groom Johnny Lumley, speaking in 2005, recalls the occasion

I remember the overwhelming tension. It started to build from the moment I arrived at Arkle's box at 8am. From then on, every minute to the race dragged like an hour. After months – it really was months – of banter between the Irish and British, this was crunch time.

Pat Taaffe had convinced me we'd win. I'd had a month's wages on, about £40, at 15-8. But this wasn't a money thing. It was about pride. In the Railway Hotel the night before, a chap of about 16st insisted that even if he rode Mill House they'd beat Arkle.

It was a bitter day with flurries of snow and I was shaking, possibly due more to nerves than the cold, as I prepared Arkle for the race. I fussed over him. He had to look at his best. As I led him up in the paddock, Pat again insisted we'd win.

The course had a different configuration then, and the best place for the groom to watch was down at the final fence. Mill House made the running, tracked by Arkle. Three fences out I saw Willie Robinson go for his whip. My confidence soared. From that point our horse was always travelling the better.

As I led him in, the Irish went crazy with joy. Hats were flying in the air and people didn't bother about catching them. I was walking across a carpet of trilbies. That night I went back to the Railway Hotel – is it there still? – to celebrate. Unfortunately, most of the British who'd been staying there had made their way home. I didn't bother going to bed that night.






reductio ad absurdum



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reductio ad absurdum



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reductio ad absurdum



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No horse gave me such an exhilarating feeling in the run , then left me so flat at the finish , during my time at Des Judds he was a gangely 4y/o just learning his trade , wonderfull memories . StarStarStar
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Rough Habit 92 Stradbroke - what a sprint

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Mount Edens 71 Miracle Mile has to be the most freakish. Gave them 100m start & won by 20m

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carioca Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 2022 at 8:49pm
During the early 60s a battleing Melbourne jockey decided to try his luck in Sydney , he was told to introduce yourself to racecaller Ken Howard , " he will see you right " he did , and Ken got him settled in a flat close to the Randwick course ( Ken lived in Doncaster Ave ) got on the phone to get him rides , didn't take long for this jock from struggle street to be up and flying , Ken on the airwaves calling him " the king of swish " and Mr Wippy because of his flourishing whip action , anyhow he win three Epsoms and a Doncaster but during the process went to Ireland for a " look see " as there was talk of a contract , while there he got quite familiar with Arkle riding him work , a contract never eventuates so he comes back home and is interviewed one morning at the track regarding his trip and the horses he rode , and stated the best horse he Ever ridden in his life was Arkle , no doubt he would have won the MC ! said he , Des Lake , wins Doncaster on Time and Tide , Epsoms on Toi Port , Cabochon and Ricochet , I think later he fell on hard times , that's racing .
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VSP. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jun 2022 at 9:41pm
Some of those jumpers were just freakish. I also loved NZer Belle Flight, what a great horse he was. He was virtually a fence in front the day he crashed and was killed. Spectacular racehorse.
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reductio ad absurdum



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Originally posted by oneonesit oneonesit wrote:

Rough Habit 92 Stradbroke - what a sprint








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Originally posted by djebel djebel wrote:



'He might not have won - but 1973 will always be remembered as Crisp's National'


The Greatest Ever Race RICHARD HOILES

The Grand National. The world's greatest steeplechase. The race where once-a-year punters dine out on their ability to select a winner which will remain etched in their memory for generations.

It will not take long in those reminiscences for the name Red Rum to crop up. The greatest Grand National horse of all time, trained behind a used car showroom and galloped on Southport beach by a trainer who moonlighted as a taxi driver to make ends meet. By the end of Rummy's Aintree exploits he would open betting shops and even appear on BBC Sports Personality of the Year, such was his celebrity status.

Yet when chat turns to the first of those victories in 1973, it is a race that is referred to not by his name but by the horse he narrowly beat that day. 1973 will always be remembered as Crisp's National.

Red Rum and Crisp lined up as joint-favourites for the race that day, yet the fact they ever met at all was remarkable in itself as they started worlds apart.

Red Rum's career was entwined with Aintree, from the day he made his debut as a two-year-old at the track in a seller to his death and burial by the side of the winning post. That juvenile debut (it was a mixed meeting in those days) was made just 24 hours before Foinavon's dramatic 1967 National victory and resulted in him sharing a dead-heat. He ran on National day itself a year later under Lester Piggott, in the year big-race winner Red Alligator was partnered by Brian Fletcher, the man who would ride Red Rum in the 1973 National.

Red Rum would run in five Nationals, winning three and finishing second twice. His third victory at the age of 12 was immortalised by the words of Sir Peter O'Sullevan: "It's hats off and a tremendous reception, you've never heard one like it at Liverpool – Red Rum wins the National."

By contrast, Crisp started out life in Australia. Having soon accounted easily for all the opposition that could be mustered, his owner Sir Chester Manifold set his sights on England and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

When Crisp arrived at the Uplands stable of leading trainer Fred Winter, the first thing most who were in the yard at the time remember was his size – big, strong and imposing and certainly looking the part. The second was that he was almost impossible to clip, so his winter coat soon took hold to an alarmingly shaggy degree as he seemed impervious to any sedation to enable anyone with clippers anywhere near him.

The rules in those days stated that any horse coming in from abroad would automatically carry top weight to allow the handicapper a chance to assess their merits without being made to look foolish. Crisp duly carried top weight of 12st 7lb on his debut at Wincanton, where he went clear on the final circuit to win in impressive fashion.

For a big horse he had great rhythm, agility and speed. He began taking apart track records and breaking rivals' hearts with his front-running, bold-jumping style, and at the 1971 Cheltenham Festival he landed the Queen Mother Champion Chase in comprehensive fashion.

Crisp's attempts to realise his owner's Gold Cup dream, however, went far less smoothly. Up in trip, Crisp refused to settle and then, denied his customary front-running role, seemed to either lose the spark, fail to stay, or both.

No doubt eyebrows were therefore raised when he appeared in the entries for the 1973 National, where his high-class exploits earned him top weight of 12st, as opposed to the less-exposed Red Rum who was allocated just 10st 5lb. Having decided it was pointless trying to restrain and hence disappoint Crisp, the idea was for jockey Richard Pitman to allow Crisp his head initially but then try to settle him in front to preserve the crucial grains of energy needing to last the four and a half miles.

When the tapes rose, Crisp was right up with the leaders when he uncharacteristically pecked at the first. Far from being put off by the error, he seemed to relish this new challenge of the then fearsome obstacles. Pitman had decided his mount's jumping was such an asset that he would go up the inner, a route that with such big drops even angels declined to tread. It was also the shortest route, thus again maximising the chances of his mount lasting home.

Crisp was certainly happier out in front, but it soon became apparent that such was his enthusiasm any attempt at restraint was hopeless. He devoured the fences, leading from Grey Sombrero at a furious pace. When Grey Sombrero came down at the Chair, Crisp was left at least 15 lengths clear, and the lead was growing.

By Becher's on the final circuit, Crisp was out on his own. Pitman references the silence at this part of the race. There were no sounds of pursuers, no crashing of birch and fir, just an eerie quiet. So serene was it that the jockey could hear snippets of the commentary and, as they took Becher's, the voice of Michael O'Hehir over the racecourse speakers declaring that Red Rum was breaking clear of the pack behind.

The signature fences came and went, the Canal Turn and Valentine's, where David Nicholson, who had pulled up there a circuit before, shouted, "Kick on, you'll win." In truth, kicking on was the last thing on Pitman's mind; holding his mount together to conserve as much energy as possible was his growing concern.

Still there was no crack in Crisp's accurate jumping. Red Rum had himself now completely gone clear of the rest, and the 1973 Grand National was a duel. Watching it back even to this day, it remains enthralling: Red Rum's metronomic crocodile tick-tock advance gradually eroding Crisp's advantage – but surely still not quickly enough.

There is a long run between the third-last and second-last in the National and, perhaps without a next fence to focus on, Crisp began to tire ever so slightly. Pitman, for the first time, could hear a closing rival, but despite his flagging stamina Crisp's jumping remained true.

And then it happened. The moment that still haunts Pitman, who believes it cost him the race. After over four and a quarter miles of perfect rhythm, one crucial moment of discord.

Crisp was out on his feet and Pitman decided to give him a reminder. Yards from the sanctuary of the Elbow, where the left-hand running rail can guide an exhausted horse home, Pitman gave Crisp a wake-up call, but with his stick in the right hand. Crisp lugged left almost drunkenly, rhythm interrupted and now off course for the upcoming Elbow. That change of direction emptied Crisp and now Red Rum was closing fast. A split second before the red and white flash of the winning line there was instead a flash of maroon and yellow as Red Rum came by. Every time you watch the race back you are struck how close Crisp came to lasting home.

Red Rum stopped the clock a full 18 seconds faster than the great Golden Miller's course record. Those behind hardly ever mentioned in the race included L'Escargot, a dual Gold Cup winner and a horse who himself would beat Red Rum in the 1975 National; Spanish Steps, winner of the 1969 Hennessy and placed in a Gold Cup; and the controversially disqualified Whitbread winner Proud Tarquin.

A field of true quality taken apart in a duel for the ages. For Red Rum it marked the start of something special, but for Crisp it was beginning of the end. He beat Red Rum in a level-weights match at Doncaster the following season where speedier conditions were far more in his favour, but he then suffered an injury and never raced again.

The 1973 Grand National. Crisp's National. The greatest race of all time.

'It was a stupid thing to do and I hold my hands up'

Crisp's jockey Richard Pitman recalls his agonising defeat

I have been at Aintree on Grand National day since 1967 when I rode in Foinavon's race and have witnessed everything. There are so many Nationals that do not resonate but it is amazing that this one does, and it's the public who have kept it going.

I still get criticism to this day, but I don't care because everyone is entitled to an opinion and I know what was said between Fred Winter and myself before the race. We planned every single angle, and in the end we decided we'd make the running and try to slow the race down in order to try to get the trip with 12st.

I've said it before, but he was never running away with me. It's so unusual for a horse to see fences like the ones in the National and quicken into them from three or four strides away of their own volition, but he did as if to say: "Bring it on!"

He did make a mistake at the first, but he was a natural. Despite being a big, heavy horse, he never jumped high like a showjumper. He was almost galloping before he hit the ground – his legs were looking for the next stride and he wanted to get on with it. He was just a natural enthusiast.

To go out on the second circuit so alone without any noise was a marvellous moment. It was surreal, and I was loving it. I couldn't hear another horse but I could distinctly hear Michael O'Hehir's commentary going to Becher's saying, "Dick Pitman is 25 lengths clear of the pack," so I was quite aware of what was happening.

Crisp started to empty after the second-last and I could just start to hear Red Rum's hoofbeats because it was fast ground, but I still had a lead of 15 lengths or more.

You make lots of snap decisions and I think most of mine were correct, but picking up my whip before the Elbow was a stupid thing to do and I hold my hands up.

I shouldn't have used the whip at all. He was so big and so heavy that when you take your hand off one rein to give him a crack, you lose him. He fell away from me and, if I had just sat and pushed him out to the Elbow, then given him a crack when he had the running rail, fine, but you can't change it.

It was so close to the line when Brian Fletcher and Red Rum passed me. There was a feeling of desolation, but it soon turned to joy because the ride he had given me was an experience of a lifetime.       
I don't think about it now because there's nothing I can do about it, but if someone brings it up I'm happy to speak and I can recall every step of the way. Everyone has an opinion and it's incredible that we're still talking about a race from 1973. 
LEWIS PORTEOUS





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The Greatest Ever Race RICHARD FORRISTAL

The Godolphin-Coolmore rivalry condensed into the most epic final-furlong battle

At the heart of this series is a nostalgic penchant for days of yore, fuelled as it is by wistful recollections of seminal racecourse clashes that grow rather than diminish in legend as the years go by. 

Of course, we will always relish such seismic jousts in the moment, but the concept's essence is to celebrate the ones that endure far beyond. The inevitable upshot is that a passage of time implicitly underpins the criteria, so the fact that most people asked will go for races before the turn of the millennium maybe isn't surprising. 

From this remove, the timing and context of Galileo and Fantastic Light's epic duel in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown is intriguing because it took place three days before one of the single most earth-shattering atrocities since World War II. 

On September 11, 2001, two commercial airplanes were hijacked by Al Qaeda terrorists and flown into New York City's World Trade Center twin towers, while another hit the Pentagon near Washington and a fourth crashed in a field outside Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people perished. It constituted the end of innocence for this generation because, all of a sudden, the vitriolic lexicon of terrorism, suicide bombing and warfare contaminated the broader consciousness on a global scale in a way that most of us hadn't experienced before. 

Galileo and Fantastic Light brought the curtain down on their respective careers at Belmont Park weeks after the world turned upside down. The New York track is situated just 12 miles from Ground Zero and the Breeders' Cup was among the first major international sporting events to live the new reality. Police dogs searched cars entering the Belmont parking lot, soldiers armed with assault rifles were stationed throughout and snipers were positioned on the grandstand rooftop. We weren't in Kansas any more.

On reflection, then, the absorbing Leopardstown tussle between Galileo and Fantastic Light fell just on the right side of the simpler times watershed. It qualifies as a time worth harking back to, and the micro-context surrounding the race was compelling.

Coolmore and Ballydoyle had already been around for a long time, as had Sheikh Mohammed and his Darley operation. However, Aidan O'Brien was in the infancy of his Flat career, while the Godolphin entity was still forming its unassailable identity. The previous year, Giant's Causeway and Dubai Millennium had carried all before them, signalling the extent to which we were witnessing the emergence of two rival behemoths.

Simultaneously, almost by stealth, Fantastic Light was maturing into a popular globetrotting four-year-old for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, finishing 2000 with Group 1 wins in Belmont's Man o'War Stakes and the Hong Kong Cup under Frankie Dettori.

In between, O'Brien unleashed the third progeny of Urban Sea, a gorgeous two-year-old son of Sadler's Wells who bolted up by 14 lengths on his Leopardstown debut for Mick Kinane. 

Galileo went on to become the poster boy for O'Brien's rapidly escalating ambitions. He arrived at Epsom on June 9, 2001, unbeaten after three starts, and duly stamped his authority all over the opposition to secure the bespectacled young trainer his first Derby.

Sandwiched either side of that landmark Classic triumph were the latest manifestations of Fantastic Light's arrival in the big time. Now five years old, he squeezed home in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh before readily dispensing with Kalanisi in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot. 

He was coming of age pretty spectacularly, suddenly an irresistible force hurtling headlong towards Galileo's immovable object in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot. There, the Derby winner was sent off odds-on. 

When he skipped away in the straight, the outcome looked a formality, but then Dettori finally extricated Fantastic Light from behind a wall of horses to challenge wide, possibly even edging to the front a furlong out. 

In response, Galileo did what we now expect his progeny to do, knuckling down for a scrap before eventually pulling two lengths clear. It was decisive, but not to the extent that Sheikh Mohammed and his late brother Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum didn't see enough to roll up for a rematch at Leopardstown. The day before the Irish Champion Stakes, Dettori was summoned to Kildangan Stud and found himself seated between both men. They had a plan. 

"I was told I had to be in front of Galileo through the race as that was the only way to beat him," Dettori recalled later. "That was not my opinion. I felt the best way of riding Fantastic Light was to come with a late run with something to aim at. I explained that to them but lost the argument. I left the meeting convinced they were making me do the wrong thing."

It all made for one of the great tactical contretemps of its era, one that was very much of its time in O'Brien versus Bin Suroor and Kinane versus Dettori but, in Coolmore and Darley, it epitomised the superpower duopoly that would shape the next two decades.

When the stalls opened at Leopardstown, PJ Scallan let Ballydoyle's pacemaker Ice Dancer rip in front. However, it was Godolphin's Give The Slip who played the most vital role under Richard Hills, ignoring the tearaway leader and towing Dettori into the race. 

Kinane tracked Fantastic Light but, dropped back in trip, it looked as though Galileo was at the pin of his collar early on. His rider couldn't dictate the terms of engagement and, by the time Galileo had found his equilibrium and loomed up turning in, Dettori had first run. Hills opened the door and he slipped up his inside. In a game of inches, Kinane had lost yards. 

Still, Galileo found for pressure and they eyeballed each other all the way up the straight. It was utterly absorbing to witness. Racing the width of a cigarette paper apart, Kinane coaxed Galileo alongside Fantastic Light inside the distance, but Dettori's mount was brave. He stuck his neck out and his head down, eking home by a head to settle the score. 

It wasn't the result a majority in Leopardstown's packed stands might have wished for, but the duel lifted the roof off the Dublin venue. They lapped it up and both horses surfed back in on a raucous wave of applause.  

"When we crossed the line I was mentally and physically exhausted," Dettori would reflect. "After pulling up, Richard Hills came to me and asked if I had won. When I told him I had, he asked me why I wasn't celebrating. I told him I was too drained.

"Afterwards, the reception both horses got from the crowd was like they were both winners. That's what made it for me. It was electric."

At the time, Kinane might not have appreciated the magnificence of the spectacle. His currency was always victory, although he later acknowledged the majesty of it all. 

"The pacemaking jockeys are as important as the guys riding the number one strings," he would muse of the strategy.

"A pacemaker can allow you to play your horse to his strengths and that's what Richard did for Frankie. He ignored Ice Dancer and got Godolphin into a controlling position. He made all the right moves and Frankie was able to slip through on his inside. It meant I had a length to find, which I wouldn't otherwise have needed to find. That could have been the difference between winning and losing. They got the tactics right. We didn't."

Galileo's first defeat wasn't his last. Desperate to crack the Breeders’ Cup Classic, O’Brien rolled the big dice with him in Belmont the following month. He never landed a blow as Tiznow shaded a vintage dust-up with Godolphin's Sakhee, shortly after Fantastic Light had claimed another Ballydoyle scalp when seeing off the St Leger hero Milan in the Turf.

Neither Galileo nor Fantastic Light graced the track again and, while the Godolphin horse finished with the upper hand on the racecourse, we all know who had the final say in the breeding shed. 

Nonetheless, their enthralling on-track legacy stands for itself. In short, what they conspired to serve up at both Ascot and Leopardstown was a rivalry for the ages. Trust John Francome to capture it in a nutshell on Channel 4 just after they crossed the line in the rematch.  

"What a fabulous race," Francome cooed.

"Fantastic Light was in front of Galileo most of the way around and you have got to hand it to Frankie Dettori, he has ridden this race to absolute perfection. Plenty of people would have thought Galileo was going to win in the straight, but this little horse just didn't know when to give up. They are two fabulous horses. The race promised plenty and it didn't disappoint."

'Everything worked out as we had planned it'

Saeed bin Suroor, Fantastic Light's trainer, on the stunning battle

Everybody seemed to want to see this race, between two great horses, so it was an exciting time for everybody and everything went 100 per cent perfect for us.

Fantastic Light was doing well before the race, working nicely and in good condition, so everything was spot on, and we had Give The Slip in the field to make a strong pace for us. He wasn't good enough to beat the other two, but he was a Group 3 winner and with Richard Hills on board he did exactly the job we needed him to.

Everything was carefully prepared. The team discussed beforehand how we could win the race. We knew Galileo was a champion who would be hard to beat. He had already beaten us over a mile and a half in the King George, but we had a pull in the weights over two furlongs less so we wanted to take him on from the start, and everything worked out perfectly as we planned it.

The other pacemaker [Ice Dancer] went clear of everybody but Richard was travelling well in behind and he was one of the best jockeys in the country, so he knew what speed they were going, saw that the leader was going too fast and he rode his race to suit our horse, leading the rest of the field at a strong pace from the beginning.

As the leaders turned for home, there was room on the rail for Fantastic Light to get through and in the last couple of furlongs you saw an incredible challenge between two top horses, which was what people watching all around the world were hoping for.

In the last half-furlong there was still not much between them, but Fantastic Light put his head down and battled, and with two good jockeys on our side we were just able to win. Frankie was a superstar, he's still the best, and it was a great ride that made the crucial difference between winning and losing.

That win made a lot of people very happy. Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Maktoum were both there to see what was such an important meeting of two champions, and people still remember it after 21 years. I think it was one of the best races I've ever seen.





reductio ad absurdum



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