Pat Taaffe

The late Pat Taaffe was famously tall, at 6’2”, and famously unstylish in the saddle – at least, according to some observers – but, nonetheless, rode 25 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, which makes him the fourth most successful jockey in the history of the National Hunt extravaganza, behind Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty and Tony McCoy. Of course, Taaffe is best remembered as the jockey of the legendary Arkle, on whom he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three years running in 1964, 1965 and 1966. Indeed, at one point, he was described by Observer correspondent Hugh McIlvanney as ‘one of the few horsemen in the world who can look Arkle in the eye without feeling inferior.’ It is fair to say that the part played by Taaffe in establishing the reputation of Arkle as, arguably, the greatest steeplechaser in history, should not be underestimated.

Less well remembered, perhaps, is that fact that Taaffe also rode Arkle to victory in the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 1963, having already won the same race on Coneyburrow in 1953, Solfen in 1960 and Grallagh Cnoc in 1961. He also won on Proud Tarquin in 1970 and remains the leading jockey in the history of the race.

Remarkably, although Taaffe won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle twice, on Stroller in 1954 and Flyingbolt in 1964, his other 23 victories at the Cheltenham Festival all came over the larger obstacles. He won the Queen Mother Champion Chase five times, including two years running, on Fortria, in 1960 and 1961 and, in 1966, on Flyingbolt who, according to Timeform, is the only horse since the early Sixties to be rated within 20lb of Arkle. Two years after partnering Arkle to his third, and final, win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Taaffe won the prestigious steeplechase again on Fort Leney – trained, like Arkle, by Tom Dreaper – to become the leading jockey in the history of the ‘Blue Riband’ event, which he remains to this day.

2011 Cheltenham Festival Results

Tuesday, March 15 (Old Course)

1.30pm Stan James Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
(Grade One) 2m 110yds £100,000

1 Al Ferof 10/1
2 Spirit Son 5/1
3 Sprinter Sacre 11/1
15 ran

2.05pm The Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase
(Grade One) 2m £130,000

1 Captain Chris 6/1
2 Finian’s Rainbow 7/2
3 Realt Dubh 17/2
10 ran

2.40pm The Stewart Family Spinal Research Handicap Chase
(Grade Three) 3m 110yds £75,000

1 Bensalem 5/1
2 Carole’s Legacy 9/1
3 Reve De Sivola 9/1
4 Fair Along 25/1
19 ran

3.20pm Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy
(Grade One) 2m 110yds £370,000

1 Hurricane Fly 11/4 Fav
2 Peddlers Cross 9/2
3 Oscar Whisky 7/1
11 ran

4.00pm Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase
(Handicap) 3m 7f £45,000

1 Sizing Australia 13/2
2 Garde Champetre 5/1
3 A New Story 12/1
4 Maljimar
15 ran

4.40pm David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle
(Grade Two) 2m 4f £75,000

1 Quevega 5/6 Fav
2 Sparky May 4/1
3 Ocean Transit 50/1
14 ran

5.15pm Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase
(Listed) 2m 4f 110y £55,000

1 Divers 10/1
2 Quantitativeeasing 7/1
3 Tullamore Dew 13/2
4 Vino Griego 20/1
20 ran

Wednesday, March 16 (Old Course)

1.30pm 141st Year of the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup
(Amateurs) 4m £75,000

1 Chicago Grey 5/1 Fav
2 Beshabar 9/1
3 Be There In Five 20/1
16 ran

2.05pm Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle
(Grade One) 2m 5f £100,000

1 First Lieutenant 7/1
2 Rock On Ruby 13/2
3 So Young 2/1 Fav
12 ran

2.40pm RSA Chase
(Grade One) 3m 110yds £130,000

1 Bostons Angel 16/1
2 Jessies Dream 10/1
3 Wayward Prince 15/2
12 ran

3.20pm sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase
(Grade One) 2m £320,000

1 Sizing Europe 10/1
2 Big Zeb 3/1
3 Captain Cee Bee 14/1
11 ran

4.00pm Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle
(Grade Three) 2m 5f £70,000

1 Carlito Brigante 16/1
2 Bothy 12/1
3 Orsippus 33/1
4 Battle Group 33/1
22 ran

4.40pm Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
(Grade Three) 2m 110yds £70,000

1 What A Charm 9/1
2 Kumbeshwar 33/1
3 Dhaafer 16/1
4 Plan A 4/1 Fav
23 ran

5.15pm Weatherbys Champion Bumper
(Grade One) 2m 110yds £60,000

1 Cheltenian 14/1
2 Destroyer Deployed 66/1
3 Aupcharlie 33/1
24 ran

Thursday, March 17 (New Course)

1.30pm Jewson Novices’ Chase
(Listed Race) 2m 5f £90,000

1 Noble Prince 4/1
2 Wishfull Thinking 7/2 Fav
3 Loosen My Load 11/2
11 ran

2.05pm Pertemps Final
(Listed Race) 3m £70,000

1 Buena Vista 20/1
2 Son Amix 16/1
3 Sivota 9/1
4 Knockara Beau 33/1
23 ran

2.40pm Ryanair Chase
(Grade One) 2m 5f £260,000

1 Albertas Run 6/1
2 Kalahari King 7/1
3 Rubi Light 16/1
11 ran

3.20pm Ladbrokes World Hurdle
(Grade One) 3m £260,000

1 Big Buck’s 10/11 Fav
2 Grands Crus 7/2
3 Mourad 8/1
13 ran

4.00pm Byrne Group Plate Handicap Chase
(Grade Three) 2m 5f £75,000

1 Holmwood Legend 25/1
2 Aimigayle 25/1
3 Beautiful Sound 9/2 Fav
4 Consigliere 20/1
20 ran

4.40pm Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase
(Amateurs) 3m 1f 110yds £50,000

1 Junior 10/3 Fav
2 Faasel 20/1
3 Deal Done 20/1
4 Galaxy Rock 18/1
24 ran

5.15pm St Patrick’s Day Derby
(Charity Race) 1m 5f

1 Plato 6/4 Fav
2 Nemo Spirit 14/1
3 Super Collider 6/1
12 ran

Friday, March 18 (New Course)

1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle Race
(Grade One) 2m 1f £100,000

1 Zarkandar 13/2
2 Unaccompanied 11/2
3 Grandouet 13/2
4 Sam Winner
23 ran

2.05pm Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle
(Grade Three) 2m 1f £70,000

1 Final Approach 10/1
2 Get Me Out Of Here 7/1
3 Nearby 66/1
4 Cockney Trucker 33/1
26 ran

2.40pm Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
(Grade One) 3m £100,000

1 Bobs Worth 15/8 Fav
2 Mossley 12/1
3 Court In Motion 9/1
18 ran

3.20pm totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup
(Chase) (Grade One) 3m 2f 110yds £500,000

1 Long Run 7/2 Fav
2 Denman 8/1
3 Kauto Star 5/1
13 ran

4.00pm Christie’s Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup
(Amateurs) 3m 2f 110yds £40,000

1 Zemsky 33/1
2 Mid Div And Creep 100/1
3 Oscar Delta 25/1
4 On The Fringe
24 ran

4.40pm Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
2m 4f 110yds £50,000 £40,000

1 Sir Des Champs 9/2 Fav
2 Son Of Flicka 28/1
3 First Point 20/1
4 Indian Daudaie 25/1
23 ran

5.15pm Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase
(Handicap) (Grade Three) 2m 110yds

1 Oiseau De Nuit 40/1
2 Askthemaster 50/1
3 Leo’s Lucky Star 20/1
4 De Boitron 8/1
23 ran

TOTAL PRIZE MONEY 2011 = £3,415,000

Istabraq

According to Timeform, Istabraq was the joint-second highest rated hurdler, alongside Monksfield and behind only Night Nurse, since the respected ratings organisation turned its attentions to National Hunt racing in the early Sixties. Hailed by his trainer, Aidan O’Brien, as ‘a class above everything he raced against’, Istabraq was a four-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival, beating Mighty Moss in a driving finish to what is now the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in 1997, before winning the Champion Hurdle in 1998, 1999 and 2000 to become the first horse since See You Then in 1987 to win the race in three consecutive years.

Ridden exclusively by Charlie Swan, Istabraq ran in a total of 29 hurdle races and started favourite, mostly at odds-on, for all bar one of them. He fell twice, and was pulled up once, but in 26 completed starts was beaten just three times, including on his hurdling debut, as a four-year-old, at Punchestown in November, 1996. By the end of his career, Istabraq had racked 14 wins at Grade One level and over £1 million in prize money.

A son of champion sire Sadler’s Wells, out of a Secretariat mare, Istabraq was originally owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum and trained by John Gosden, for whom he won a couple of minor races, under Willie Carson and Pat Eddery, in 1995. He was subsequently sold to John Patrick ‘J.P.’ McManus, with a view to joining the late John Durkan, former assistant trainer to Gosden, who had plans to set up as a trainer in his own right. However, Durkan was diagnosed with leukaemia in late 1996, so Istabraq was transferred ‘temporarily’ to Aidan O’Brien, pending his recovery. Durkan was reportedly ‘overjoyed’ when Istabraq won his first race at the Cheltenham Festival but, tragically, died in January, 1998, at the age of just 31, shortly before Istabraq won his first Champion Hurdle.

According to Timeform, Istabraq was the joint-second highest rated hurdler, alongside Monksfield and behind only Night Nurse, since the respected ratings organisation turned its attentions to National Hunt racing in the early Sixties. Hailed by his trainer, Aidan O’Brien, as ‘a class above everything he raced against’, Istabraq was a four-time winner at the Cheltenham Festival, beating Mighty Moss in a driving finish to what is now the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in 1997, before winning the Champion Hurdle in 1998, 1999 and 2000 to become the first horse since See You Then in 1987 to win the race in three consecutive years.

Ridden exclusively by Charlie Swan, Istabraq ran in a total of 29 hurdle races and started favourite, mostly at odds-on, for all bar one of them. He fell twice, and was pulled up once, but in 26 completed starts was beaten just three times, including on his hurdling debut, as a four-year-old, at Punchestown in November, 1996. By the end of his career, Istabraq had racked 14 wins at Grade One level and over £1 million in prize money.

A son of champion sire Sadler’s Wells, out of a Secretariat mare, Istabraq was originally owned by Hamdan Al Maktoum and trained by John Gosden, for whom he won a couple of minor races, under Willie Carson and Pat Eddery, in 1995. He was subsequently sold to John Patrick ‘J.P.’ McManus, with a view to joining the late John Durkan, former assistant trainer to Gosden, who had plans to set up as a trainer in his own right. However, Durkan was diagnosed with leukaemia in late 1996, so Istabraq was transferred ‘temporarily’ to Aidan O’Brien, pending his recovery. Durkan was reportedly ‘overjoyed’ when Istabraq won his first race at the Cheltenham Festival but, tragically, died in January, 1998, at the age of just 31, shortly before Istabraq won his first Champion Hurdle.

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