Arkle & Mill House

Cheltenham Gold Cup 1964

Cheltenham is the mecca of National Hunt Racing a Left Handed Course that produces some of the best National Hunt racing anywhere.

The main contest during the March festival is the Chelteham Gold Cup run over 3 1/4 miles and 22 fences since it's inception horses that have won this race have gone on to Steeplechasing's hall of fame.

To pick a race out of Cheltenham illustrious past is not an easy thing to do but the 1964 Gold Cup race does stand out from the crowd.

This was an head to head encounter of classic proportions two great jumpers on one side the great English horse Mill House a gelding of huge proportions a formidable chaser with a huge stride who took fences like they didn't exist. He won his first Gold cup by 12 lengths in 1963 and looked as though he could win this race forever.

On the other side was the Irish horse Arkle a seven year old trained in Ireland and was being ridden by Pat Taaffe, Arkle was winning races for fun and the world waited for this momentous meeting. The English were supremely confident, hadn't Mill House soundly thrashed Arkle while carrying 5lbs more than the irish horse in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury the previous November.

Mill House started at 13-8 while Arkle was 7-4 both horse looked magnificent in the paddock the excitement of the crowd was electric. there were only two other runners in this race King's Nephew and Pas Seul. Without delay they made there way to the start and they were off.

s struggling to keep Arkle back and after clipping a fence he was passed by Pas Seul, however when the four horses came down the hill Arkle managed to get himself into second place as they passed the stands Mill House was comfortably in the lead Mill House's jockey Robinson stepped up the pace, and Arkle clearly had no problem staying with them.

Irish Supporters

Mill House, Robinson, Cheltenham Gold Cup, Hennessy gold cup,

Going into the 15 fence Mill House seemed to have Arkle beaten he had gone five lengths clear and Arkle missed timed his jump, suddenly the next fence saw Arkle jump brilliantly and the distance was narrowed, suddenly they were climbing the hill and Mill House was no longer losing Arkle.

From a mile away the Irish supporters felt there horse had the English horse for the taking and roared their encouragement, however Mill House was not an horse to be taken lightly and at the third from home he put in a fantastic jump and was still two lengths clear.

The two horses were now swinging down the hill and Arkle galloped along in the big horses wake as the two poured down the hill. At the second last Mill House touched down just in front and they swung into the straight for the short run to the final fence, Robinson brought the whip into play and Mill House gave all he had but at the last fence Taaffe urged his horse on and they jumped two lengths clear of Mill House, Mill House doggedly hung on like the champion he was closing to within one length before Arkle put in a final flourish to win the race by five lengths.

Arkle won the Gold cup for the next two years unfortunately Arkle's career came to an untimely end when he broke a pedal bone in his hoof in the King George VI chase at Kempton Park on 27 Dec 1966. His record included 3 Cheltenham Gold Cups, 2 Hennessy gold cups, King George VI Chase the Whitbread Gold Cup, the Irish Grand National. So good was this horse that in Ireland the handicap rules were altered to allow lesser horses to have a chance