The most famous racehorses in history

"Red Rum" (CC BY 2.0) by Clive Varley

The most famous racehorses in history

The enduring popularity of the sport of kings is based partly on the affection that so many feel for their equine heroes. Although according to, betting on horse racing has long been an integral part of the sport, the thrill of competition between the very best horses is a key part of racing’s appeal. Here are just some of the many famous horses who have graced the sport over the decades.


Any horse with its own movie will inevitably become famous. A new generation of fans became familiar with the name Secretariat thanks to the 2010 release of the feature film of the same name. Although Secretariat passed away in 1989, the horse’s achievements certainly deserved to endure. He was named American Horse of the Year in 1972— at just two years old — and in 1973, winning the Triple Crown in 1973, and setting the fastest times ever in all three Triple Crown races in North America.


Another horse whose fame has enjoyed a movie-related boost thanks to the 2003 production of the same name, Seabiscuit gained instant fame in the 1930s by winning more money than any other horse on the circuit. War Admiral, the 1937 Triple-Crown champion, was defeated by Seabiscuit by four lengths in a contest considered the “battle of the century”. As a result, Seabiscuit was nominated for 1938’s American Horse of the Year.

The fascinating narrative of Seabiscuit and his success is also part of his enduring fame. His jockey had just one eye, and none expected the horse and jockey pairing to succeed. However, they ultimately prevailed in 11 of the 15 events they took part in. Despite the fact that Seabiscuit’s reign ended more than 80 years ago, even people who are not horse racing enthusiasts are familiar with him, making him one of the most well-known racehorses of all time.

Red Rum

The steeplechase is a thrilling combination of speed and jumping ability. The fact that chasers and hurdlers remain in competition for longer than their flat cousins means that racing fans have plenty of time to form attachments to their equine favourites.

Of all the chasing greats, Red Rum is one of the best horses to have ever competed in this exhilarating, high-adrenaline sport. His three Grand National wins in 1973, 1974 and 1977, were all major events in racing. During his 1973 win, he overcame a 30-length deficit, providing a truly remarkable performance. However, the success of Red Rum cannot be gauged by his victories alone. This horse arrived as the UK was going through a severe economic downturn and succeeded in winning hearts and boosting spirits.


Arkle, who was named after a mountain in Scotland that abutted the Duchess of Westminster’s Sutherland estate, won three Cheltenham Gold Cups until an injury ended his career early. He was trained by Tom Dreaper at Greenogue, Kilsallaghan in County Meath, Ireland, and ridden by Pat Taaffe throughout his steeplechasing career. To this day, he is considered to be the greatest steeplechaser of all time, with a Timeform rating of 212 — the highest given to a steeplechaser in history.


Winx fans will tell you that she is the best racehorse to have come out of Australia. With a total of 25 Grade/Group 1 victories under her belt, she is the horse with the most high-level victories worldwide. She has amassed more wealth than any horse from the Southern Hemisphere, totalling more than $25m in prize money. Adding to her long list of accomplishments, she also established a record by winning the Moonee Valley Cox Plate four times in a row. Additionally, in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019, she was named the Australian Horse of the Year. Amazingly, Winx was able to compile a 33-race winning streak and 2017 saw her become the third horse to be inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame while still competing.


Frankel, who was foaled on 11 February 2008, retired at the end of the 2012 flat season, having established an astonishing record. He won all 14 of his races and was regarded as the top-rated racehorse in the world. Frankel earned £2,998,302 during the course of his three-year flat racing career. He was ridden by Tom Queally and trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil. In addition to winning the 2,000 Guineas, he also claimed the St. James’ Palace, Sussex, Queen Elizabeth II, Lockinge, Queen Anne, International and Champion Stakes in an illustrious career.

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