ARKLE – THE PEOPLES LEGEND
When we set on our journey to make a Legendary Premium Cider we wanted a Cider that reflected the great cider making traditions and history of Ireland and Great Britain and a cider that would bring people together. This brought us to Herefordshire – the home of cider for hundreds of years and together with our Unique Irish Recipe we felt we had created a truly great cider.
We then wanted a brand that truly reflected this bringing together of shared ideals and knowledge across both nations. Horse Racing as a sport is enjoyed by millions of people and is one of the shared passions across Ireland and Great Britain. This brought us to the greatest racing legend of them all – Arkle.
The famous Irish thoroughbred racehorse Arkle (19 April 1957 – 31 May 1970) is widely regarded as the greatest steeplechaser in history. Widely loved and regarded as a remarkable combination of bravery, intelligence and and sheer talent. A bay gelding by Archive out of Bright Cherry, he was the grandson of the unbeaten (in 14 races) flat racehorse and prepotent sire Nearco. Arkle was born at Ballymacoll Stud, County Meath, by Mrs Mary Alison Baker of Malahow House, near Naul, County Dublin. He was named after the mountain Arkle in Sutherland, Scotland. Owned by Anne Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster, he was trained by Tom Dreaper at Greenogue, Kilsallaghan in County Meath, Ireland, and ridden during his steeplechasing career by Pat Taaffe. Arkle was named after a Scottish mountain that bordered the Duchess of Westminster’s Sutherland estate.
Arkle was also the first horse to capture the imagination of the Irish and British public outside racing circles. He left everyone who witnessed him in awe of his remarkable abilities. Even when he was still around, the general belief was that racing would never see his kind again.
At 212, his Timeform rating is the highest ever awarded to a steeplechaser. Only Flyingbolt, also trained by Dreaper, had a rating anywhere near his at 210. Next on their ratings are Sprinter Sacre on 192 and then Kauto Star and Mill House on 191. Despite his career being cut short by injury, Arkle won three Cheltenham Gold Cups, the Blue Riband of steeplechasing, and a host of other top prizes
His first victory at Cheltenham was in the Broadway Chase, which he won by twenty lengths. One of the key challenges that excited peoples interest in racing was Arkles challenge with Mill House regarded as the greatest chaser at that time, who was the English challenger. Millhouse beat Arkle (and gave him 5 lbs) when they first met in the 1963 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, with Arkle slipping a few fences out and finishing third.
However, in the 1964 Cheltenham Gold Cup, Arkle avenged that defeat by beating Mill House (who had won the race the previous year) by five lengths to claim his first Gold Cup at odds of 7/4. It was the last time he did not start as the favourite for a race. Only two other horses entered the Gold Cup that year.
Loved by all racing followers, Arkle became a national legend in Ireland. At one point, the slogan Arkle for President was written on a wall in Dublin. The horse was often referred to simply as “Himself”, and the story goes that he received items of fan mail addressed to ‘Himself, Ireland’.
The government-owned Irish National Stud, at Tully, Kildare, Co. Kildare, Ireland, has the skeleton of Arkle on display in its museum. A statue in his memory was erected in Ashbourne Co. Meath in April 2014.
Arkle Premium Cider a fitting salute to a great legend…
Arkle was so dominant that the racing authorities in Ireland took the unprecedented step in the Irish Grand National of devising two weight systems — one to be used when Arkle was running and one when he wasn’t. Arkle won the 1964 race by only one length, but he carried two and half stones more than his rivals.
Arkle won 27 of his 35 starts and won at distances from 1m 6f up to 3m 5f. The late great Racing commentator Peter O’Sullevan, known as the “Voice of Racing” who was born in Kenmare, County Kerry called Arkle a freak of nature — something unlikely to be seen again.
Besides winning three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups (1964, 1965, 1966) and the 1965 King George VI Chase, Arkle triumphed in a number of other important handicap chases, including the 1964 Irish Grand National (under 12-0), the 1964 and 1965 Hennessy Gold Cups (both times under 12-7), the 1965 Gallagher Gold Cup (conceding 16 lb to Mill House while breaking the course record by 17 seconds), and the 1965 Whitbread Gold Cup (under 12-7).
In December 1966, Arkle raced in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park but struck the guard rail with a hoof when jumping the open ditch, which resulted in a fractured pedal bone; despite this injury, he completed the race and finished second. He was in plaster for four months and, though he made a good enough recovery to go back into training, he never ran again. He was retired and died at the early age of 13.