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He was the most perfect Gold Cup horse: Tony McCoy reflects on Cheltenham stars

Three-time Gold Cup winner Best mate with trainer Henrietta Knight.
Three-time Gold Cup winner Best mate with trainer Henrietta Knight.
Three-time Gold Cup winner Best mate with trainer Henrietta Knight.

Retired jockey Tony McCoy has hailed Best Mate as the 'most perfect Gold Cup horse' ahead of this year's Cheltenham meeting.

The County Antrim man twice won the race, on Mr Mulligan in 1997 and on Synchronised in 2012.

As he looks ahead to this year's race, McCoy says the Gold Cup is the most difficult race to win and hailed it as the 'pinnacle' of the racing calendar.

Best Mate became the third horse after the legendary Arkle (1964-66) and Golden Miller (1932-34 - would go on to win five in a row by 1936) to win three Gold Cups in a row from 2002 to 2004.

"He was the perfect Gold Cup horse in that he had a reasionably high cruising speed and he has loads and loads of stamina. He was probably the most perfect Gold Cup horse," McCoy told William Hill, before heaping praise on the horse's trainer Henrietta Knight.

"She never ran him again after he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Once you run a horse again after the Cheltenham Gold Cup, it takes so much out them that physically and mentally it's very difficult to get them back again."

"It is the most difficult race, it is the pinnacle, it is what you need in a champion; the tank has to be empty to win it, no matter how good you are.

"That's why I think tyhe training of Best Mate was exceptional and it didn't get the credit it deserved at the time. It will be a long, long time before someone wins three Cheltenham Gold Cups again."

Watch the rest of McCoy's thoughts on Gold Cup stars like Denman and Kuoto Star:

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