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Friday 26 April 2019

The Best Horse Racing Comebacks of All Time

Sport is all about stories, and no sport epitomises that more so than horse racing. Racing thrives off stories, and that is what makes fans’ love in love with the horses, owners and jockeys. There is no story quite like a comeback; the tale of retribution always grabs the headlines. 

In horse racing the story is not different and with barely two weeks to go until the Kentucky Derby, we look at what racehorses have made the most astonishing comebacks. 

Tiger Roll 

The most recent of all the examples of equine comeback stories is that from the lovable Gordon Elliot horse Tiger Roll. The fact that this little horse manages to jump a Grand National fence is unlikely, but to go on and win not one but two Nationals is freakish. 

His 2018 National win was nail-biting, as he just about managed to hold off the assault of Pleasant Company. He began to falter, and fortunately, the line came in the nick of time. The fact that no racehorse has won back to back Grand Nationals in almost 50 years was enough to suggest that a second feat remained unlikely; however, this horse isn’t like many of the other challenges that have attempted this.

It came back for the 2019 season stronger and better than the previous year, and that was highlighted in his comprehensive win at the Cheltenham festival just a month before Aintree. Tensions were high as he lined up for the 2019 National. However, there was very rarely any doubt as he strutted around the track with the swagger of a champion. He settled quickly and finally began his assault five from the finish, and as soon as he jumped the last into the lead, then there wasn’t any doubt that Tiger Roll’s comeback was going to be immortalised with a second consecutive Grand National win. 

Sprinter Sacre 

There was no better chaser in National Hunt racing than Sprinter Sacre, and his love affair with racegoers was cemented in 2016 when Cheltenham was treated to one of the most emotional comebacks in racing history. He was pulled up at Kempton in 2013 to put an end to his ten-race winning streak, and soon after it was announced that he had an irregular heartbeat; almost certainly ending his career. 

However, connections took the gamble and decided to continue to race the lovable Sprinter. The signs weren’t good as the cloak of invincibility quickly disappeared with three defeats; two of which involving him pulling up again. Things began to change at the beginning of the next season as he won consecutive races in the form of the Shloer Chas and Desert Orchid en route to the 2016 Cheltenham festival. There was no doubt that the script was written, and Sprinter Sacre dually obliged. He dominated the field to beat the heavily tipped favourite Un De Sceaux and claim the Queen Mother Champion Chase. There wasn’t a dry eye at Cheltenham; it was the ultimate feel-good comeback story of the year. 

Sir Henry Cecil 

Henry Cecil was one of the most instantly recognisable men in the world of horse racing and is largely considered as one of the best trainers. He dominated the flat racing scene throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s as he won multiple classics. His training methods were desired by all as he somehow managed to get the ultimate level of performance from every horse at his yard. However, this began to disappear in the early ’00s, and his health also took a hit on his training. In 2005 he was only able to train 12 winners. 

He needed a star to put him back in the limelight and to showcase his talents; this came in the form of Frankel. Most racegoers consider him as the greatest racehorse ever after he won all 14 of his races and retired unbeaten. This ensured that Cecil signed off where he deserved to be- at the top. Sadly Cecil passed away in 2013, but racegoers memories of Frankel will ensure that his reputation as the most exceptional trainer will live on.

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