The Best Irish Horses in History

When we think about Poldark, we think about the Irish actor, Aiden Turner, who became famed for his role as the lead in the BBC hit drama. Although he has received an award for his part in the show, it is Seamus, his Irish horse in the show, that he believes is the real star.


Ultimately, Ireland is known for producing beautiful and strong horses. You just need to check out the Irish Grand National race cards today and you will see some stunning examples, all looking to take a place on the list of the greatest of all times.


Here are some of the best Irish horses of all time…

Seamus from Poldark

Poldark became a huge hit and created some big stars. One of those stars was Seamus, the Irish-born horse that has gained his own following. He is a celebrity and people even visit his stables just to rub his saddle.


Indeed, so integral is he to the show that he even has his own stunt double so that he is never put at any risk.


From a TV star, we go to a real sports star – and a horse that was the centre of one of the biggest sporting mysteries of all time.


In 1983, when he was at the height of his fame and reportedly worth more than £10 million, he was kidnapped from his stable in County Kildare. After a number of failed attempts to obtain money for the horse, he was eventually killed.


It was believed at the time to have been a crime committed by the IRA who were said to be raising money for weapons, but they never claimed responsibility. Shergar and his remains have never been located.

Tir na nOg – Into the West

Tir na nOg (Irish for ‘Land of Eternal Youth’) is a stunning white horse that mysteriously appears to an Irish Traveller grandfather with his two grandsons who dream of becoming cowboys.


The Grandfather tells his grandsons Irish legends and folk tales to amuse them, but when the horse is stolen, they go on an adventure to find him. This leads to them escaping the poverty of their North Dublin council estate and riding West to discover the hidden secrets of Tir na nOg.


Another legendary Irish racer is the steeplechaser Arkle, one of the finest jump racers. He won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three years in a row as well as the Irish Grand National, the King George VI Chase and the Hennessy Gold Cup twice.


This led to Arkle being voted Britain and Ireland’s all-time favourite racehorse by the Racing Post. In total, the Tom Dreaper trained horse, ridden mainly by jockey Pat Taafe, won 27 out of his 35 races. You can see his skeleton at the Irish Horse Racing Museum.


Ap McCoy named Synchronised, who was trained by Jonjo O’Neill, as the favourite horse that he had ever ridden.


Riding Synchronised, McCoy won the 2011 Welsh National, the 2011 Lexus Chase and the 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup. He called this his number one horse because he felt a real personal connection to the animal.


McCoy said that although he probably wasn’t the best horse he’d ever ridden, he had the best will to win – and he reminded McCoy of himself. When Synchronised suffered a fatal injury when racing in 2012, McCoy described it as the worst day he has ever had in racing.

Dawn Run

Dawn Run is considered one of the greatest horses in Irish National Hunt Racing and was a big name during the 1980s, especially at Cheltenham. He was trained by Paddy Mullins and in 1984 she won the British, Irish and French Champion Hurdles.


One of the most memorable Gold Cups in history was in 1986 when Dawn Run came from behind to claim a victory that will forever be remembered. This win drew cheers and celebrations from the fans, with spectators and punters flooding the winner’s enclosure, causing incredible scenes.


Unfortunately, at the age of eight, Dawn Run fell during a race in France and suffered a fatal injury. She now has a statue at Cheltenham opposite Arkle.

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