Number 2: The incredible chaser who won three Gold Cup's and the hearts of the public

WITH the Cheltenham Festival now 2 days away, the Sun Racing team will be bringing you their 'Festival 50' every day between now and 10 March.

We will salute the Prestbury Park heroes that made us fall in love with the Festival, all the way until the 'Cheltenham roar' signals that the wait is finally over.

Number 2: Best Mate

Best Mate was one of a kind.

A true legend of the game he was loved by punters up and down the country, but he was particularly idolised by the Cheltenham faithful.

Of course famous for his three sensational Gold Cup victories, it's easy to forget that Henrietta Knight's superstar also ran a screamer to finish second in the 2000 Supreme.

But it was the switch the fences that were the making of him, and he arrived for the 2002 Gold Cup fresh as paint having been off the track since a fine second in the King George to Florida Pearl.

It turned out to be a thriller of a Gold Cup, as Best Mate edged out Commanche Court in a driving finish with the roars of the crowd ringing in there ears.

A star was born – but no one could have predicted at that stage just how good this horse would turn out to be.

He had the perfect preparation as he returned to defend his crown 12 months later, winning a Peterborough and a King George in ready fashion.

Sent off the 13-8 favourite, this was surely Best Mate's career-best performance.

The list so far…

50-41: All can be found here

40-31: All can be found here

30-21: All can be found here

20-11: All can be found here

10. Moscow Flyer

9. Dawn Run

8. Big Buck's

7. Bobs Worth

6. Kauto Star

5. Sprinter Sacre

4. Arkle

3. Denman

He was given a perfectly-judged waiting ride by Jim Culloty and powered up the hill toe win by 10 lengths, sparking wild celebrations in the stands.

But that was nothing compared the reception he received the following year. And it wasn't without a few scares along the way.

He looked in deep trouble turning in as he was short of room and had to be switched around runners.

But the crowed lifted him up that hill, and he stayed on grittily to win by half a length from Sir Rembrandt.

There was a huge release of emotion in the stands as this brave warrior matched the feat of the great Arkle, winning three in a row.

A brilliant horse with a heart of a lion. One of the greats.


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