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Australasian Champion Racehorses
BLACK CAVIAR - Undefeated in 13 starts at May 2011, Black Caviar officially became the highest rated sprinter since World Thoroughbred Rankings began and the highest rated mare in the world. By the end of 2011 she had extended her winning streak to 16. In 2012 she took her unbeaten total to 18 winning the C.F. Orr, her first time over 1400m and then backing up in 7 days to win the 1000m Lightning for the 2nd year running in a blistering 55.53 secs. After a further 3 consecutive wins in Australia she travelled to the UK to race in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Ascot, winning for the 22nd time in a heart stopping photo finish. She continued in 2013 with a win in the newly re-named Black Caviar Lightning and her 24th win was at Moonee Valley in the William Reid. She then raced in the T.J.Smith at newly reopened Randwick Racecourse in Sydney and it was thought that she was facing her toughest test starting from barrier 1 on a track that was a bit soft against what was thought to be a strong field. Luke Nolen rode perfectly coming of the rail and when she got a gap she was through and in a fast final run to the line she swallowed up the leaders in magnificent style to leave them several lengths astern, but it was to be her final race. Many judges, including this writer, thought she was in the best form of her career based on her last three runs this preparation, however she was retired on the 17th April 2013 with her 15 Group 1 wins & 25 wins from 25 starts while still at the 'top of her game'. She's a champion who had very few critics during her career and we now await the arrival of her very expensive offspring.
Go to the official Black Caviar website at www.blackcaviar.net.au for more information.
Australian Racing Report's independent guide to some of the top racehorses to have raced in Australia, past and present.
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SO YOU THINK - Any horse that is capable of winning two Cox Plates within his first 10 race starts deserves to be described as a champion. Trained by the legendary Bart Cummings, So You Think is a huge black/brown horse who won his first Cox Plate in 2009 as a three year old at his fifth start (although technically speaking he was just shy of his actual third birthday.) He returned to the track in 2010 with a confident first up win in the Memsie Stakes and went on to win his next four starts in the Underwood, Yalumba, Cox Plate and the Mackinnon Stakes. Starting as the raging favourite in the 2010 Melbourne Cup after solid support in betting for weeks before the big race, the bookies were facing an absolute blackout if he was successful. The only question about his form was that he was yet to win beyond 2040m. He ran a gallant third at the Flemington 3200m behind another three year old, Maluckyday and the French trained winner Americain. As an entire, he was highly sought after by major breeding operators around the world and a few days after the Cup was sold to Coolmore with the plan being a racing career in the UK before being sent to stud.
MAKYBE DIVA - Tony Santic, a tuna fisherman from Port Lincoln S.A., acquired Makybe Diva by purchasing her Dam Tugela in the U.K. while in foal to Desert King. The foal had been offered for sale in the U.K. but failed to reach its reserve. In 2000 they arrived in Australia and Makybe Diva was named using the first 2 letters of the names of 5 of Tony’s workers. Sent to train at David Hall’s Stables, as a 3yr. old in 2002 she won the Werribee Cup 2000m and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes 2500m, qualifying her for the Melbourne Cup which she won in 2003. After a spell she then went on to win the Sydney Cup in 2004. Transferred to Lee Freedman to train in Melbourne when David Hall moved his operation to Hong Kong, in 2004 she ran second in the Feehan Stakes and the Caulfield Cup. Starting in her second Melbourne Cup as favourite, she became one of a handful of horses to win back to back Cups. Resuming from a spell in March, she won the Australian Cup at Flemington over 2000m, running a course record for the distance of 1:58.73. and the BMW Stakes in Sydney 2005 over 2400m. In the Spring, took out the 1400m Memsie Stakes, Turnbull Stakes and Australia’s premier weight-for age event, the 2000m Cox Plate. Although entered for the Melbourne Cup in 2005, there was major doubt that she would run. Most experts said a mare carrying the top weight of 58kg couldn’t win, but the Diva rounded up the field in that long Flemington straight to become the only horse ever to win 3 back to back Cups. During the award presentation, an emotional Tony Santic announced that she would retire to stud immediately. Was voted Champion Racehorse in 2005 and 2006, setting a new benchmark for earnings with over A$14.5 million to her credit. She has a full sized statue in Port Lincoln on the foreshore, and also at Flemington racecourse.
APACHE CAT - became enormously popular with the crowds on race day partly because of his extravagant white blaze, which appears to have slipped down the right side of his face like a Salvador Dali watch, and his four white feet. There are plenty of superstitions and myth surrounding a horse with white socks, but it didn’t stop the Cat scoring his first win as a 3 yr. old at Sandown 30 Mar.’05. His first Group win was in the Guineas Prelude in September, his first Group 1 came in the Cadbury Guineas 2006. After a series of Group 2 & 3 wins in 2007, in 2008 he had five more wins with the Lightning, Australian Stakes T.J.Smith, Brisbane Turf Club Cup and the Doomben 10,000 wins. Named Champion Sprinter in 2008 and beat Takeover Target for the Global Sprint Challenge. In 2009 he won the Australian Stakes and his second Doomben 10,000 before going on to win the Schweppes Stakes in a fantastic run up the rail at Moonee Valley in October beating a crack field. After fracturing a leg in a race in Hong Kong in December 2009, joined Australia’s retired horse racing champions at Living Legends.
TAKEOVER TARGET - his classic tale of triumph over adversity represents every horse owners dream – the story of an Aussie Battler and a horse that nobody wanted. Bought as a 3yr old in 2003 for less than $1400 by a struggling hobby trainer, his dodgy legs meant he would not race until he was 4. His owner Joe Janiak drove a taxi by night, slept in a caravan at his stables and trained his horse with the help of his sons when he wasn’t sleeping or driving. When he finally got Takeover Target to the track for trials, the horse behaved like a barrier rogue and hit Joe’s head which then required 30 stitches. The horse finally got it right with a win in a 1200m maiden at Queanbeyan and went on to win his next six starts including the Ramornie Handicap at Grafton and the Salinger Stakes at Flemington. Returning from a spell in 2005, Takeover Target appeared to lose form, failing to win in 6 starts before taking out the Doomben Summer Stakes in record time of 1:7.88. In 2006 won both the Lightning and the Newmarket, went to Royal Ascot where he won the King’s Stand, ran 2nd in the Golden Jubilee and 2nd in the July Cup at Newmarket before heading to Japan to win the Sprinter’s Stakes at Nakayama. Was named Australian Champion Sprinter for the 2005/06 season and Global Sprint Campion 2006. Raced until 2009 picking up several more wins at home and abroad until he shattered a cannon bone in the July Cup at Newmarket forcing his retirement. During his career he won 21 races from 41 starts with earnings of over A$6million, meaning Joe and his sons don’t live in a caravan any more. Takeover Target will be reminiscing about the good old days with Might & Power and Fields of Omagh at Melbourne’s Living Legends home for retired champions. A beloved horse in Australia, he still makes an occasional trip to the track to lead the horses out on to the course for a feature race. A movie about his story is being planned.
MISS ANDRETTI - Foaled in 2001, she raced until 2005 in Western Australia. Transferred to Lee Freedman’s Stables in 2006 and won the 2006 Manikato Stakes in 1:9.29. Breaking four track records in Australia, in 2007 she won the Lightening Stakes and the Newmarket and then set off for the U.K. where she won the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot setting another record time of 57.44 for the 1000m. She was named Champion Racehorse of the Year for 2006/07, a rare achievement for a sprinter. She raced 23 times for 15 wins, including 3 at Group 1, earning over $1.5million. Her owners resisted multiple offers to sell before she was retired to stud. Her first foal by Exceed and Excel was born in September 2009.
MIGHT AND POWER - Although his racing career ended in 1999, Might and Power gains a special mention amongst our modern era racehorse champions as his racing career could have continued into the next century had it not been ended early by injury. Foaled in 1993, a son of Zabeel and an Irish mare Benediction who can trace her parentage back to Carbine. Owned by Nick Moraitis, a prominent Sydney business man and trained by racing veteran Jack Denham. Zabeel’s are generally regarded as late starters, Might and Power was no exception. While he did win his third start as a late 2yr.old and a couple of races as a 3 yr. old, it was not until he led all the way to win the 1997 Caulfield Cup that he became the horse to watch. It is said that Jim Cassidy rode against instruction by taking Might and Power to the lead, but it worked since he finished 7.5 lengths ahead of Doriemus in record time. Although installed as favourite for the Cox Plate, they decided to go straight into the Melbourne Cup. There was strong opinion his weight rise of 3.5kgs in the Cup would give Doriemus a chance to turn the tables, and leading was no sure way to win Australia’s greatest race. Jim Cassidy bounced him out and took up the lead but was seriously challenged twice in the running. They were pulling away from the field when Doriemus started to loom with a run down the middle of the track. From the 200m mark, racegoers were treated to a spinetingling battle with both horses virtually level all the way to the line. Greg Hall on Doriemus actually began saluting and celebrating believing he had won. The photo showed Might and Power made it by a nostril. The following year he took the Mercedes Classic, the A.J.C. Queen Elizabeth and the Doomben Cup and became the first horse to win the Cox Plate as reigning Melbourne cup Champion since Phar Lap in 1931. He was named Champion Horse of the year in ’98 and ’99 and with winnings over $5million deserves his comfortable retirement at Living Legends.
NORTHERLY - Fred Kersley was better known in Western Australia as a harness trainer and driver, but that changed when he bought a half share in Northerly for just $9000. Surviving a difficult birth where he almost died, he won his 2nd start as a 2-year-old in 2000 in a 1400m Listed Race at Ascot, finishing the year after 4 starts for 3 wins including the Group 1 Railway Stakes. In February 2001 he began the first of his ‘raids’ across the Nullarbor picking up the Carlyon Cup, ran 3rd in the Victoria Cup and won the Group 1 Australian Cup. After a spell and a couple of runs in the West they returned for the Spring Carnival in Melbourne and proceeded to win 4 Group 1s in a row with the Feehan Stakes, the Underwood, the Yalumba, and then (surviving multiple protests) defeating Sunline in the Cox Plate. After another successful Autumn, Northerly again dominated Melbourne the following Spring taking the Underwood, Turnbull, Caulfield Cup (carrying a massive 58kgs) then backed up a week later to win again win the Cox Plate. Kersley declined the opportunity to run in the Melbourne Cup with 60kgs in the interests of the horse. As an 8 year old in 2004, Kersley had to make the hard decision to retire Northerly when he refused to work at the track, vets found a some heat in his leg but it seemed the horse was letting everyone know the time had come. In his racing career Northerly won over $9 million and from 37 starts recorded 19 wins (9 of them Group 1) with 7 seconds and 2 thirds. The gelding returned to W.A. for his retirement, where he still runs with the yearlings and generally refuses to act his age.
SUNLINE - born 1995 by Desert Sun out of Songline, her pedigree goes back to Northern Dancer on both sire and dam lines as does the breeding of that other mighty mare, Makybe Diva. She also carried the heritage of Carbine and Phar Lapp so it wasn’t a surprise when she won her first black type race as a late 2yr old. Won her first 10 starts ending this run with the Group 1 Mudgway at Hawkes Bay New Zealand 2002. Over the time of her racing career she made several raids to Australia where she won 2 Cox Plates in 1999 and 2000. Long list of Group One wins including the Doncaster, the All Aged Stakes, the Coolmore Classic, Waikato Sprint and Hong Kong Sprint. The world’s highest earning female racehorse and the only horse ever to win Australian Horse of the Year three times. She was enormously popular with racegoers in Australia and N.Z, but had a reputation as a bit of a handful, biting both her trainer Trevor McKee and strapper Claire Bird on many occasions. (Claire can now be seen interviewing winning jockeys on horseback riding back to the scales on feature race days.) Sunline had an exceptional will to win and when she came into the mounting yard you could tell she meant business giving the other horses, the track and the punters the haughtiest looks. She raced 48 times for 32 wins, 9 seconds and 3 thirds and amassed winnings over $11 million. At stud had fillies Sunruler by Zabeel and Sunstrike by Rock of Gibraltar who have raced and won. Sadly, Sunline is no longer with us, succumbing to foot problems in 2009, but hopefully her offspring will go on. Either way her impact on Australian Racing won’t be forgotten.
CHOISIR - foaled in 1999, this grandson of Danehill got quickly into stride. Rated as Australian Champion 2yr. old, in his third year he won the Lightning Stakes at Flemington and at Ascot (U.K.) he was the first Aussie to win the King’s Stand in 2003. Also won the Golden Jubilee and came second in the July Cup. In 2003 went to Coolmore stud and in 2004 he began to shuttle between Australia and Ireland. His first foals are already winners on both sides of the world, one of his most exciting offspring is Starspangledbanner - who has already amassed over A$1million in earnings as a 3 yr. old and looks likely to be following his dad into stud duties having been bought by Coolmore for a reported $10 million. A nice bonus for each of Starspangledbanner's 10 owners, considering their combined initial investment of just $150,000.
TESTA ROSSA - Foaled in 1996, Testa Rossa won the Magic Millions in 1999. He was bred to be a fast sprinter early in his career, coming from sire Perugino had Northern Dancer breeding and his dam Bo Dapper was the daughter of Sir Dapper, a winner of the Golden Slipper 1983 (whose sire Vain also won it in 1969). As a 2yr old recorded 5 wins and 1 second from 7 starts, by the time he went to stud he had racked up 6 Grp1 wins and six Grp2’s. What made him unusual was his ability to win a sprint race like the Lightning Stakes in a little over 56 seconds, but also to win a tough mile like the Emirates where he carried 59kgs. His offspring sell at The Magic Millions and Karaka (N.Z.) sales in excess of $300,000 and he is said to have a 70% winners to runners average. His progeny are becoming popular in Hong Kong where he already has several horses with over HK$2million each in race winnings to their credit.
On the Punt:
Racing People & History:
PHAR LAP - with a name that is derived from a Thai word for lighting, Australia's mighty Big Red captured the imagination of the nation like no other racehorse before or since.
Foaled in New Zealand and trained in Australia, Phar Lap's record comprised 51 starts with 37 wins, 3 seconds and 2 thirds - 14 of those wins consecutively. Unlike Black Caviar, he ran last in his first race and was also unplaced at his next three until his maiden win at his fourth start in April 1929 at Rosehill. Returning to racing as a three year old he took the AJC and Victoria Derbys before running third in the Melbourne Cup. After another third at his next start, he then went on to a further 33 starts - winning all but two of them where he finished second. Amongst this extraordinary run of success was the 1930 Melbourne Cup. His streak was to end in the Cup of '31 where he finished 8th under the massive weight of 10.10lbs (or 64.1kgs). Phar Lap's American owner then had him shipped to North America where he achieved one more win in the Agua Caliente Handicap, in record time. A short time later, Phar Lap became ill and died. Recent studies indicate he was poisoned by aresenic, but it is not clear whether this was intentional or an accident.
Phar Lap's hide, skeleton and heart have been preserved, with the hide featured in a special exhibition permanently on display at the Melbourne Museum.
Updated 26th June 2012