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Watch awesome Arazi and other favourite races selected by Racing Post writers

Think Noble Mission versus Al Kazeem was a thriller? Try these for size . . .
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Some races catch the eye. Others take your breath away. And some are so spectacular they're etched in the memory for life – at any moment the sights, sounds and smells of that small moment in time can be recalled with such clarity it almost feels as though history is repeating itself. Here, Racing Post writers share the races from decades gone by that they could watch over and over – and recommend you do too.


Arazi leaves his rivals standing
1991 Breeders' Cup Juvenile

Champion-elect Arazi already had three Group 1s in the bag so trainer Francois Boutin must have been hopeful. But no way could he have anticipated this barely believable and mesmerising run. Its brilliance never fades.

Take your pick of the verbs. From their unhelpful outside post Arazi and Pat Valenzuela scythe through the field. They also glide though it, tear through it, slalom through it, dart through it, skate through it and explode through it, then charge right away from it. They might as well be a CGI superimposition. And don't worry, the opposition were no duffers.

Arazi turned out not to be the second coming of Secretariat; he was an avant-garde fireball whose semi-knackered knees required surgery and he couldn't repeat the feat. But the poster of his spectacular win didn't leave my wall until it fell apart. 

Robin Gibson


A Vintage Weld raid
1993 Melbourne Cup

Vintage Crop's iconic heroics in the sloppy Flemington mud paved the way for the global racing scene as we know it. To this day, the memory of straining out of the side of the bed in the middle of the night as an impressionable 12-year-old to listen to a radio commentary that sounded as epic as the pictures subsequently looked remains etched in the mind.

With no other northern hemisphere horse having tackled the Melbourne Cup before, the context added to the sense of seminal sporting history unfolding, as did the dramatic manner of victory. Under a definitively cool Mick Kinane steer, Dermot Weld's brave chestnut scythed through the field with a late surge to grind the opposition into submission.

It was a rousing performance by all concerned, one that didn't stop at elevating Weld and Kinane into another stratosphere. By the locals' own admission, the outcome saved the 'race that stops a nation' from the brink of irrelevance, and it also transformed what was considered possible on the international Flat scene. It was a revolutionary foray.

Richard Forristal


Affirmed v Alydar in a Triple Crown thriller
1978 Belmont Stakes

The best of horseracing is to be found in the collision of two outstanding horses. Many such duels have entered Turf folklore, with Grundy’s encounter with Bustino in the 1975 King George cited as the greatest race of the 20th century.

That may be true of racing in Europe, yet it simply cannot compare with the epic meeting of Affirmed and Alydar in the 1978 Belmont Stakes.

The pair had been virtually inseparable in the two preceding Triple Crown races, which were won by Affirmed. But the Belmont eclipsed everything as the two colts hooked up at the seven-furlong pole. From that point there was never more than a neck in it either way.

Julian Muscat


Dessie heads off Panto Prince
1989 Victor Chandler

In the middle of an incomparable season, Desert Orchid – the King George under his belt, the Gold Cup just over the horizon – demonstrated his great versatility and unparalleled verve in a two-mile handicap that he really had no business winning.

As he galloped away from the last he was a length behind the tough and consistent Panto Prince and had 22lb more on his back, but Desert Orchid was always a horse who could turn lost causes into unlikely triumphs, his honesty shining from him like a lighthouse lamp as he clawed back the deficit. At the line he had his head in front, the magnificent old ham stealing the show yet again.

Steve Dennis


Viking Flagship shows them how it's done
1995 Melling Chase

Those of us who felt Viking Flagship’s 1994 Queen Mother Champion Chase defeat of Travado and Deep Sensation would struggle a long while to be bettered were reckoning without the pugnacious tendencies of the winner. It was as if, when he got to Aintree a year later, he was bloody-mindedly determined to prove us all wrong.

Coming to the last, David Nicholson’s pocket battleship narrowly hit the front but was being stalked at close range by Martha’s Son – winner of his previous nine races – on his outer and the classy Deep Sensation on his inner, and in truth looking most likely to finish third.

On the run-in he saw off Martha’s Son, only to be claimed imperiously by Deep Sensation, who took what looked a race-winning lead, but Viking Flagship was galvanised by Adrian Maguire – dressed for a scrap in his black crash hat – and clawed back the deficit with a stride to spare.

It was the race that rewrote the dictionary definition of doggedness.

Peter Thomas


Secretariat makes history
1973 Belmont Stakes

Racing history of the most extraordinary kind. America's equine legend joined the immortals with a scarcely conceivable 31-length victory, an astonishing display that was to go down in racing folklore as arguably the most remarkable performance ever seen on a racecourse anywhere.

After record-breaking efforts in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, 'Big Red' started at a sprinter's pace and just kept on relentlessly, moving further and further away from his overmatched rivals as he pushed the boundaries of what had been thought possible for a thoroughbred.

His opponents receding into the background, Secretariat won the New York Classic by fully half a furlong in 2min 24sec flat, shattering the record by more than two and a half seconds with the most overwhelming winning margin in Triple Crown history. Hardened racetrack cynics were left shaking their heads in disbelief after such an awesome display of both speed and stamina. Stupendous.

Nicholas Godfrey


Eddery's sliding doors moment
1984 Derby

It was a classic 'what would have happened if' moment and the stakes couldn't have been higher.

El Gran Senor, an outstanding two-year-old and a brilliant winner of as good a 2,000 Guineas as we had seen in years, was the 8-11 chance and if in-running betting had not still been 20 years away he would have traded at the minimum odds as he cruised up to long-time leader At Talaq just inside the final two furlongs, Pat Eddery sitting motionless, hands seemingly full.

Eddery looked to his right to confirm that Christy Roche was hard at work on the challenging Secreto and he chose to sit longer rather than kicking on. But Secreto did not go away, and although El Gran Senor found something when Eddery finally had to go for him approaching the furlong marker, it was nothing like as much as had looked likely.

Once battle commenced in earnest El Gran Senor still looked sure to hold on, but to Eddery's horror, and that of Vincent O'Brien, Robert Sangster et al, Roche forced the nose of Secreto – trained by O'Brien's son David, remember – in front right on the line.

Nobody can know if El Gran Senor would have held on had Eddery gone for him sooner. Quite possibly he would, but as Eddery himself admitted, the real damage had already been done. Simply put, the Derby all went too well for El Gran Senor, and Eddery found himself in front too soon on a colt who was more about speed than stamina.

A degree of redemption followed at the Curragh, but there's really only one Derby, and El Gran Senor lost it by the minimum margin.

Graham Dench


Night Nurse and Monksfield dead heat
1977 Templegate Hurdle

This was the inaugural running of the Templegate, affording the Des McDonogh-trained Monskfield the chance to reverse form with Night Nurse, who had beaten him in the Champion Hurdle the previous month.

Not only were they inseparable at the end of a titanic struggle of ebb and flow, there was a wealth of attendant drama, Dessie Hughes replacing the injured Tommy Kinane, Monksfield making a couple of uncharacteristic jumping errors, a reluctant Paddy Broderick urged into the winner's enclosure by Night Nurse's supporters, the stewards having a good look.

All this an hour before Red Rum won the Grand National for the third time.

Alan Sweetman


A classic Jonjo masterpiece
1982 Sunratings Chase

Jonjo O'Neill's victory on renowned dodgepot Little Bay in the Sunratings Chase on Grand National day 1982 was even more miraculous than his Gold Cup-winning ride on Dawn Run.

Little Bay, who had thrown away a race two days before, looked beaten after blundering two out and nearly being brought down at the last, but O'Neill galvanised his supremely reluctant partner and, by sheer force of will, snatched the race out of the fire. This was the true masterpiece of a great jockey – the one whom rivals least wanted to see upsides them at the last.

John Randall


If you enjoyed this, you might like:

In pictures: George Washington, the phenomenon and his fragile legacy

Postcard from the track where nobody's in a hurry but the horses

The art, rules and rudeness of naming racehorses


 

It was a classic 'what would have happened if' moment and the stakes couldn't have been higher

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