Cheltenham Gold Cup 1963 – Mill House

History records that the career of Mill House – who remains the joint-fourth highest-rated steeplechaser since the early Sixties, according to Timeform – was largely over shadowed by Arkle, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup three years running, in 1964, 1965 and 1966. However, when Mill House lined up, as a six-year-old, for his first attempt in the Cheltenham Hold Cup in 1963, he was hailed as the best horse in Britain in some quarters.

Owned by Bill Gollings and trained by Fulke Walwyn – who almost invariably referred to him as ‘The Big Horse’, on account of his near-seventeen hand height – Mill House was compared with multiple Gold Cup-winners Golden Miller and Easter Hero and was, at that stage, considered unbeatable. The 1963 Cheltenham Gold Cup did little to counter that belief; the Tom Dreaper-trained Fortria, who had finished second, beaten just a length, behind Mandarin in the 1962 renewal of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, was expected to pose a threat, but the projected duel failed to materialise.

Ridden by his regular partner, Willie Robinson, Mill House travelled and jumped imperiously throughout and, as soon as he was given his head turning for home, it became clear that, barring accidents, the race was all over bar the shouting. Another flying leap at the final fence put the result beyond any doubt and the towering bay gelding galloped home in splendid isolation, to rapturous applause from the home contingent. Fortria and Duke Of York both stayed on gamely in the closing stages, but there was no catching Mill House, who eventually beat Fortria by 12 lengths with Duke Of York a further 4 lengths away in third place.