Arkle and Flyingbolt still the Greatest
With the abandonment of the Sandown card on Saturday C4 filled in with discussions comparing Kauto Star with Arkle. Kauto Star is a great Chaser who has the speed to win at two miles and the stamina to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup. Film footage of the sixties bought back many happy memories of my visits to the Cheltenham Festival in that era. Besides Arkle I was also privileged to see Flyingbolt and Mill House. After Mill House won the Gold Cup in 1963 a lot of us, apart from the Irish, thought he would win the 1964 Gold Cup. How wrong we were, Arkle cruised upto Mill House at the second last and stormed away to win by five lengths. The picture above by Lionel Edwards, which adorns a wall in my home, captures that moment wonderfully well. It was in 1964 that we saw Flyingbolt for the first time at Cheltenham when he won the Gloucester Hurdle. In 1965 he won the Cotswold Chase over two miles and Arkle won his second Gold Cup. In 1966 Flyingbolt won the Two Mile Champion Chase by fifteen lengths and ran the next day in the Champion Hurdle where he finished third to Salmon Spray. Flyingbolt was breathtaking over two miles but he did stay as well. He finished his season in 1966 by winning the Irish Grand National under 12-7 giving huge lumps of weight away to his rivals. He was still only a seven year old. Arkle won his third Gold Cup in 1966. Both Arkle and Flyingbolt contested the big handicaps having to give lumps of weight away to their rivals and this is something Kauto Star has not done. He has been kept to Grade 1 races competing at level weights. However in the box next to him at Paul Nicholls stable is a certain Denman. Denman has already won two Hennessy Gold Cups at Newbury carrying top weight and a Cheltenham Gold Cup. He reminds me very much of Mill House, a strong galloping stayer well suited by a galloping course such as Newbury and Cheltenham. He looked better than ever when winning his last Hennessy Gold Cup by three and a half lengths giving 22 lbs to his stable companion, What a Friend, who has since gone over to Ireland and won the Lexus Chase over three miles at Leopardstown. Both Denman and Kauto Star, who was brillant in the King George VI Chase, look better than ever this season. We could be in for another mouth watering Cheltenham Gold Cup. If Denman regains his crown he will surely be rated up there with Kauto Star, but in my opinion they are both behind Arkle and Flyingbolt.