Top 9 Greatest Jumps Racehorses This Century

Features | 15th November 2021

Find out who makes our shortlist of the greatest jumps racehorses in the 21st century.

National Hunt fans are a demanding lot. Only the best of the best can meet their exacting standards to become jumping greats. While some champions come and go, many will forever be remembered.

Not all the true legends can make it on to our list of the top nine jumpers of this century. There’s no room for the likes of Moscow Flyer, Hardy Eustace, Annie Power, Al Boum Photo and Master Minded.

Here’s our top nine greatest jumps racehorses of the 21st century. Are there other racehorses you think should be in the list?

Top 9 Greatest Jumps Racehorses

9. Tiger Roll

Tiger Roll greatest jumps racehorses

Not many horses win five times at the Cheltenham Festival. Even fewer win the Grand National more than once.

Tiger Roll’s feats are even more extraordinary when you consider his victories at jump racing’s biggest meeting came in races as diverse as the Triumph Hurdle, the National Hunt Chase and the Cross Country Chase.

Bred to race on the Flat, he has defied logic on so many occasions. His first National victory over Aintree’s world‐famous fences came on heavy ground in 2018 and he cruised around when successfully defending his crown a year later.

The global pandemic meant an attempt to match Red Rum’s record three National’s was a non‐ starter but there’s still a chance he might get the opportunity to enter Aintree immortality this season.

8. Hurricane Fly

Hurricane Fly greatest jumps racehorses

No other jumps horse comes close to matching Hurricane Fly’s 22 Grade 1 victories. He bagged every two‐mile hurdles prize worth winning, most on multiple occasions, and was simply superb during his seven‐year hurdling career.

As a dual Champion Hurdler, he was always going to be considered one of the best but it was his exploits in Ireland that made him one of the best jumpers of this century.

Five Irish Champion Hurdles, four Punchestown Champion Hurdles, four December Festival Hurdles, three Morgiana Hurdles and a Hatton’s Grace mark him down as one of the greats. Longevity coupled with brilliance make Hurricane Fly well worth his place on this list.

7. Big Buck’s

Big Buck's Hurricane Fly greatest jumps racehorses

When Big Buck’s arrived from France with some top hurdles form to his name, one look at him made it clear he was built to be a top chaser.

His novice chase campaign was one of promise but his run in what is now the Ladbrokes Trophy the following season was crucial to becoming one of the greats of jump racing.

He was staying on in third place in the Newbury chase when he unseated his jockey Sam Thomas. Had he won he might never have returned to hurdling.

Fate pointed Big Buck’s towards the smaller obstacles and he never looked back. His four wins in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival is a record and he matched that tally in both the Liverpool Hurdle and the Long Distance Hurdle. The supreme staying hurdler.

6. Altior

Altior Big Buck's Hurricane Fly greatest jumps racehorses

Trainer Nicky Henderson might not know much about public transport but he must be well aware of the ‘London buses’ analogy. Having waved off Sprinter Sacre ‐ number two on this list ‐ into retirement, he couldn’t have believed he had another great two‐mile chaser on his hands.

Altior thrashed multiple Grade 1 winners Min and Buveur D’Air to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival before switching to fences with devastating effect.

His 19 consecutive victories over jumps is a record that’s unlikely to be beaten in a hurry. That winning streak contained two Champion Chases, three Game Spirit Chases, three Celebration Chases and a Tingle Creek.

He was also successful at four Cheltenham Festivals and retired as one of the greats.

5. Denman


Sporting greatness is often based on huge rivalries. Think Borg v McEnroe, Prost v Senna and Ali v Frazier. Denman’s battles with stablemate Kauto Star captured the imagination of the racing public.

It was the classy champ against the rising star. Nicknamed the ‘Tank’ as nothing seemed like it could stop his relentless galloping, he had only been beaten once in 14 races when he lined up for his first crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2008.

Kauto Star, who tops this list, couldn’t live with him that day. Denman twice won what is now the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury giving huge amounts of weight away to his rivals to show he had the constitution to go with his class. A true great.

4. Best Mate

Best Mate

When Best Mate arrived on the scene many horses had failed to live up to the rather unfair label of the ‘next Arkle’. Nearly 40 years had passed since the great Irish chaser had become only the third horse to win three Cheltenham Gold Cups.

It was to take a very special horse to match those feats. Expertly trained by Henrietta Knight and her former champion jockey husband Terry Biddlecombe, Best Mate completed a hat‐trick of Gold Cups when overcoming trouble on the home turn to see off Sir Rembrandt by half a length.

It was not his most impressive Cheltenham performance but his place in jump racing history had been assured.

A tilt at a fourth Gold Cup was ended by a training setback shortly before the Festival but a record of 14 wins from 22 starts included victories in the King George, Peterborough Chase and Ireland’s Savills Chase.

3. Istabraq


As the world celebrated the turn of the Millennium, Istabraq had already won two Champion Hurdles.

The way he joined the hurdling greats by winning the Cheltenham Festival’s biggest hurdles prize for a third time in 2000 was, possibly, his best performance. Cruising along under Charlie Swan, he only had to be nudged out to beat Hors La Lois by a comfortable four lengths.

There could easily have been a record fourth victory, to match his quartet of Irish Champion Hurdles, if the outbreak of foot‐and‐mouth disease in 2001 had not caused the Festival to be cancelled.

Only four of his 23 jumps victories came this century but there’s no way Istabraq, probably the greatest hurdler of them all, can be left out of this list.

2. Sprinter Sacre

Sprinter Sacre

Every sports fan loves a comeback. Sprinter Sacre’s was one of the most heart‐warming of them all.

No horse could match his brilliance. He barely broke sweat when ending his novice chase season unbeaten in five starts, including an easy defeat of top‐class Cue Card in the Arkle Trophy.

The way he destroyed former winner Sizing Europe in the 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase had to be seen to be believed. He looked set to dominate the top two‐mile chases for years to come until a string of issues saw him cut off in his prime.

Those problems meant he didn’t win again for more than two years but the old spark returned before he won his second Champion Chase. He signed off by thrashing Un De Sceaux at Sandown in 2016. His comeback was complete, his legacy assured.

1. Kauto Star

Kauto Star

Only one horse has won the King George VI Chase five times. Only one horse has regained the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Only one horse has won both those top two chases multiple times. That horse is Kauto Star – our number one for the greatest jumps racehorses this century.

An incredibly versatile chaser, he also twice won the Tingle Creek over two miles at Sandown and he landed the near three‐and‐a‐quarter mile Betfair Chase on four occasions.

The last of those victories in Haydock’s only Grade 1 chase came when many had written off Kauto Star as a has‐been that was well past his brilliant best.

That eight‐length Betfair Chase defeat of old adversary Long run sparked some of the most emotional celebrations ever seen on a racecourse.

Agree with our list? If you think there should be another included in the top 9 greatest jumps racehorses let us know on social media.