Legendary Champions: Top Cheltenham Festival Horses

Adrian Wall
Top Cheltenham Festival Horses

Greatest Cheltenham Festival Horses of All Time to Bet On

The Cheltenham Festival is the most prestigious horse racing meeting in Britain and Ireland. Every trainer, owner and jockey dreams of a Cheltenham winner. Over the years, there have been some unbelievable horses who have had huge success at the meeting. Here, we list in this article the most successful runners in Cheltenham Festival history who are household names. 


Probably the most famous jumps horse of all time, and born in Ireland in 1957, Arkle won his first race at Cheltenham in the Broadway Chase. Now known as the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, Arkle won the race by 20 lengths. He was second to Mill House in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newmarket in 1963, but he got his revenge in the Cheltenham Gold Cup the next year. He came home at odds at 7/4 and never again started a race as anything other than the favourite. Arkle won two further Gold Cups at the Cheltenham Festival and had a Timeform rating of 212, which is the highest rating ever given to a horse over fences.  

Golden Miller 

It might have been a long time ago in 1930s Britain, but this fantastic horse won the Gold Cup five times on the bounce between 1932 and 1936 which is an unbelievable achievement. Golden Miller is the only horse in history to have won both the Gold Cup at Cheltenham and the Grand National at Aintree in the same calendar year. He fell at the Canal Turn a year prior in the Grand National when travelling well and certainly made amends. When people talk of the most legendary horses of all time, Golden Miller is always in the discussion and his place in Cheltenham folklore is etched in stone. 


There’s no doubt that Quevega has to be very high on the shortlist. The Willie Mullins-trained mare won the newly established Mares’ Hurdle in 2009, and it is a race that she would go on to dominate for years to come. She won the race five more times on the bounce and in doing so beat Golden Miller’s festival record of five successive wins in the same contest. Even though she was shrewdly campaigned, there's no doubt she was good enough to win a World Hurdle as she won the World Series Hurdle at Punchestown four times during her career. This legendary mare will always be a legend of the punter in Ireland. 

Big Buck's 

Trained by Paul Nicholls, Big Buck’s initially raced in France where he won twice but he started off life in Britain well with a win in a Beginner’s Chase. Although he finished seventh in the Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase in 2008, he was a much improved horse a year later and beat Don’t Push It in the World Hurdle. Another three victories in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham followed, and he also dominated the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree and the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury during the same time. There's no doubt Big Buck's was the world’s greatest ever staying hurdler, and he deserves his place in this list. 


Sporting the famous silks of JP McManus, Istabraq was hugely successful in the 1990s in an era where he dominated in both Ireland and across the water. Trained by the now best Flat trainer on earth Aidan O’Brien at the time, jockey Charlie Swan rode him in each of his 29 career starts. At the 1998 Cheltenham Festival, he won the Champion Hurdle by a staggering 12 lengths. A year prior, Istabraq won the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, and the legendary horse went on to land the Champion Hurdle three times on the bounce. With four wins at the Cheltenham Festival to his name, he is right up there. 

Persian War 

Persian War began his career on the flat, but he went hurdling for the first time at Ascot during the 1966-1967 campaign. He took to hurdles like a duck to water, and was the best juvenile hurdler around. In 1967, he won the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He went on to win three Champion Hurdles in a row in 1968, 1969 and 1970.  Persian War could have achieved so much more but for his erratic owner who kept moving him around to different trainers if any sort of issue arose. He has to be up there with one of the most naturally gifted hurdlers to ever grace the sport. 


Altior was bred in Ireland but joined the Nicky Henderson yard at Seven Barrows after being purchased by Patricia Pugh in 2013. He began a great partnership with jockey Nico de Boinville, and they combined to win the 2016 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. The following season he went chasing and took his chance in the Arkle Chase, producing a devastating performance to win. A year on in 2018 he took his chance in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. He won the race in style and defended his crown a year later. With such an illustrious CV, Altior had to be on the list of great horses at Cheltenham. 

Tiger Roll 

Tiger Roll is one of the most famous horses of all time and he was certainly unique. He is most famous for his back-to-back wins in the Grand National at Aintree in 2018 and 2019, which levelled him with the great Red Rum. However, he was also exceptional at Cheltenham. He won the Triumph Hurdle in 2014, and three years after that he won the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup. In 2018, he won the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase and he went on to win that race again in 2019 and again in 2021. This was the horse of a lifetime who won many Irish punters a lot of money.