We Three Kings
by Susan Crawford
This famous painting of three legends of steeplechase racing was commissioned originally by the Injured Jockeys' Fund for their annual Christmas card - hence the title - but it has gone on to become one of the most popular images of horses in the UK, and possibly the highest selling print of an equine painting in this country.
Arkle was the virtually unbeatable Irish bred superstar of the sixties who in 1964, 1965 and 1966 won three successive Cheltenham Gold Cups, two Hennessy Gold Cups, a Whitbread Gold Cup and the King George VI Chase, before retiring with a fractured pedal bone right at the height of his powers. Despite his odd habit of crossing his forelegs while jumping, Arkle inflicted such crushing defeats on the best horses of his generation that by the end of his short career few would run against him. He died at the very early age of 13, regarded by those lucky enough to see him race as the best steeplechaser of all time, and a never to be repeated phenomenon.
Red Rum is the only horse ever to win three Grand Nationals. Although he began his career with mixed success on the flat, Rummy went on to make history running in five successive Nationals between 1973 and 1977, winning in 73, 74 and 77, and coming second in 75 and 76 while carrying top weight. Trained specifically for the National by Southport car salesman Ginger McCain, Rummy was stabled behind McCain's car showroom and galloped on Southport beach - paddling in the sea may well have helped him stave off the effects of an incurable bone disease in a front foot. In his retirement Red Rum became one of the most popular celebrities in Britain, and he led the parade of former winners every Grand National day until he died in 1995 aged 30. Red Rum is buried standing upright beneath the winning line at Aintree, and a full size statue of him near the paddock keeps a watchful eye on proceedings to this day.
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