Creating a ‘greatest of all time’ list in any sport is a tough task, and that is certainly the case where horse racing is concerned.
Comparing horses from different countries, eras, and disciplines further complicates matters, meaning that many superstars end up being overlooked.
However, we’ve come up with seven horses who we believe deserve to be classed as all-time racing greats. Read on as we reveal who made the list.
This striking son of Galileo (more of him later) racked a perfect 14 victories during his career – a tally that included seven Group 1 events.
His biggest wins include the 2,000 Guineas, St James’s Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes (twice), Queen Anne Stakes, and the Champion Stakes.
A staple of horse racing bets throughout, he twice won the European Horse of the Year award and topped the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings on two occasions, before moving on to a successful career at stud.
Secretariat is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats having won 16 out of 21 races – a record which includes the 1973 Triple Crown.
He still holds the stakes record for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, highlighting his status as a true racing great.
His 31-length victory in the latter event is widely viewed as one of the most impressive ever performances in the history of flat racing.
Many racing fans argue that Arkle is the greatest steeplechaser of all-time, but Desert Orchid’s achievements undoubtedly bring him into the argument.
The popular grey won numerous top-class races including the King George VI Chase (four times), the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Irish Grand National.
However, it was Dessie’s attacking front-running style that endeared him to the masses and established his status as a genuine racing icon.
Man o’ War
Many respected sports media outlets including ESPN and Sports Illustrated voted Man o’ War as the greatest horse of the 20th century.
He won 20 out of 21 races, but was denied the opportunity to win the Kentucky Derby as his trainer didn’t want to risk him over 10 furlongs so early in his three-year-old career.
Man o’ War went on to win the other two legs of the Triple Crown and his name can now be found in the lineage of most modern American pedigrees.
Hurdlers often get overlooked in ‘greatest of all-time’ debates and that does a great disservice to one of the most thrilling aspects of racing.
Istabraq’s dominance of the two-mile hurdling scene during the 1990s and early part of the noughties saw him mop up top-class races on a regular basis.
His 23 victories from 29 races and brilliance over a sustained period helped to put Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien firmly on the map.
Arkle’s Timeform rating of 212 is the highest ever awarded to a steeplechaser and many pundits believe he could have raised the bar even further had his career not been ended early by injury.
He won numerous top races during the 1960s including three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups, two Hennessy Gold Cups and the Irish Grand National.
Legendary racing commentator Peter O’Sullevan described Arkle as ‘a freak of nature’ and he certainly knew a thing or two about horses.
Despite running just eight times during his career, winning six, Galileo fully deserves to be classed as one the greatest racehorses of all-time.
His big race wins in 2001 included The Derby, Irish Derby and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, before he was quickly retired to stud.