Octagonal. The big O only won races by an inch or two. He never bothered to win by a big margin. His three-year-old season was one of the best since Kingston Town, and he even went on to win the Cox Plate. During his three-year-old season, Octagonal had to beat Filante, Saintly and Nothin’ Leica Dane, all of which were super horses. Octagonal won classic the Sires’, the Cox Plate, Canterbury Guineas, Rosehill Guineas, AJC Derby and Australian Cup. Octagonal also ran a place in an additional 4 classics. The big O won 10 Group Ones. 8 out of 10.
Super Impose. Old super was a champion. His greatest achievement was coming back from winning the Canberra Cup to win the Cox Plate at his second last start. This Cox Plate was one of the greatest races of the modern age. Super Impose won the Epsom and the Doncaster twice each and set a weight carrying record in his second Doncaster. The super miler also ran second in a Melbourne Cup, 4th in a Melbourne Cup (carrying 60kg) and second in another Cox Plate. Spring after spring, autumn after autumn Super Impose just kept showing up and winning. 17 of his 20 wins were in Group Company. 9 out of 10. He was better than Gunsynd, thus the additional point.
Let’s Elope. Bart’s little mare was a great horse. She mixed her form a bit sometimes but when she was good, she was great. In a few weeks in the spring of 1991 she won the Turnbull by 3, the Caulfield Cup by 1.5, the Mackinnon by 2 then the Melbourne Cup in great time by 3 beating the champion Super Impose. She also won an Australian Cup and beat Better Loosen Up by 2 lengths in a match race. The last proper one on one Group One class match race seen on an Australian track. Altogether Let’s Elope won eight races at group level. 7.5 out of 10.
Better Loosen Up. This gelding is probably best remembered for being the first and only Australian horse to ever win the world famous Japan Cup. But he also won classics the Emirates, Kingston Town Classic, Railway Stakes, Cox Plate, Mackinnon Stakes, and Australian Cup. After Better Loosen Up won the Australian Cup, he hurt his leg and never won again. Altogether Better Loosen Up won 12 races at group level. 8 out of 10.
Might And Power. The best horse of the 1990s and perhaps the best horse since Kingston Town. Might And Power and Rising Fast are still the only two horses to win the Caulfield Cup / Cox Plate / Melbourne Cup treble. Might and Power also won several other Group One races and was just impossible to run past after he got to the lead. He deserves the same score as Rising Fast but we will give him the almost immortal rating of 9.5 out of 10 because of the margins he won his races by.
The 1990s end up with 42 out of 50.
In 3rd place we have the 1930s
Phar Lap. 10 out of 10. Original inductee into the Hall of Fame
Peter Pan. Two time Melbourne Cup winner and one of the two greatest stayers of all-time. 13 of his 23 victories were in races that would now be Group One or Two. 8.5 out of 10.
Chatham. Great miler who won classics the Epsom twice and the Cox Plate twice. Also won a Doncaster and ran second in the VRC Derby and in another Cox Plate. 20 of his 24 victories were in races that would now be Group Ones or Group Twos. 7 out of 10.
Ajax. This immortal won races between1000m and 2000m. He won a Cox Plate and a Mackinnon. He won 18 in a row, and it would have been 24 in a row, but he ran second in the AJC Derby and the VRC Derby. 18 of Ajax’s 26 victories were in races that would now be Group Ones and 8 were in what would now be Group Twos. He was an immortal champion. 9 out of 10.
Hall Mark. Gun horse that was good as a two-year-old and also had longevity. He won classics the Sires’, the Champagne, the AJC Derby, the VRC Derby, the Melbourne Cup and the Doncaster. 10 of his 18 wins were in Group One or Group Two races. An underrated champion that won Group Ones as a two, three, four and five-year-old. 7.5 out of 10. He was involved in the greatest era of Melbourne Cup winners. It went Phar Lap 1930, some goat named White Noise in 1931 (Phar Lap had 10.10 and was pulled by Pike) Peter Pan 1932, Hall Mark 1933 and Peter Pan 1934. At least the Depression age had good racing to watch!
The 1930s get a score of 42 out of 50.
In 2nd place comes the 1960s
Sky High. This durable champion had 55 starts for 29 wins and won Group One races as a two, three, four and five-year-old. He was also the grandson on champion mare Flight. Of his 29 wins, he won classics the Golden Slipper, Champagne Stakes, VRC Derby, Epsom Handicap and Mackinnon Stakes. Sky High won 11 races that would today be Group Ones and 9 that would be Group Twos. He also ran a placing to champion Wenona Girl on 5 occasions. 7.5 out of 10.
Wenona Girl. This mare will go down as one of the greatest sprinting mares we have ever seen. She might not have had as much natural talent as the likes of Vain and Black Caviar, but she was tough enough to compete year in and year out for 5 season. She had 68 starts all in top company and recorded 27 wins. She won classics the Rosehill Guineas, the Melbourne and Sydney Sires’, the One Thousand Guineas and the Emirates handicap. Of her 27 wins 12 were at what would today be Group One level and 10 at today’s Group Two level. 8 out of 10.
Tobin Bronze. This horse is in most top tens of all-times and in many top fives. Here is why. Apart from winning the Caulfield Cup with with 61.5kg at his second last start, Tobin Bronze also won 2 Cox Plates, a Mackinnon, a Toorak handicap (with 62.5kg), a Doncaster (with 60kg), and the VRC Derby. Of his 24 wins, 11 were at today’s Group One level and 8 at Group Two level. He was also a very successful stallion in the USA. 9 out of 10.
Galilee. With Peter Pan, Galilee is the best stayer of the 20th century. He is the only horse to ever win the Caulfield Cup, Melbourne Cup and Sydney Cup in the same season. After he won the 1967 Sydney Cup by 6 lengths while carrying 61.5kg, it was discovered that he had broken a bone in his leg during the run. It obviously did not stop the champion, but it did virtually end his handicap career. Galilee won classic the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, Sydney Cup, Toorak Handicap and of his 18 wins 12 were at the elite level. Galilee has to get the same score as Peter Pan so 8.5 out of 10.
Vain. At Weight For Age, Vain as a three-year-old could at least run a tie with Black Caviar at her best. If her best was in the TJ Smith that day where she ran past a fit and flying Hay List, then Vain may have been able to hold her out. Vain had 14 starts for 12 wins. Of these 12 wins 9 were at the top level. They include a 12 length win in a race that is today a Group One and a win three days later in the Emirates carrying 4.5kg over weight for age. 9.5 out of 10. If Vain had run on as an older horse he would be a 10 out of 10.
The 1960s receive a mark of 42.5 out of 50.
And the winning decade is the 1950s. This is not surprising considering this particular decade has three of the best horses ever and four of the top ten!
Tulloch. 10 out of 10. Original inductee into the Hall of Fame.
Hydrogen. This forgotten champion won the Cox Plate twice and run second in another as a three-year-old. He won other classics the VRC Derby, Mackinnon Stakes, Rosehill Guineas, Caulfield Guineas and a Brisbane Cup. 14 of his 26 wins were at the elite Group One or Two level. 6.5 out of 10.
Todman. Todman won classics the Golden Slipper, Champagne, Canterbury Guineas and Lightning. He beat Tulloch by 6 lengths in the Champagne Stakes as a two-year-old and was only ever beaten twice, once by Tulloch and once by Redcraze. 6 of his 10 wins were in Group One races. It is only the number of starts that is stopping Todman from getting a 9.5, so we better give him 8.5 out of 10.
Rising Fast. This Kiwi born immortal is still the only horse to win the Cox Plate / Caulfield Cup / Melbourne Cup treble in the one year. He completed this miracle treble in 1954; also that spring in a run of 7 straight wins, he won the Turnbull, Yalumba and Mackinnon. The next year (1955) Rising Fast again won the Caulfield Cup and was beaten a lip in the Melbourne Cup. He almost became the only horse to win the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups twice. Altogether he won 8 races that are deemed ‘classics’ and a total of 15 races that are now Group One or Group Twos. A true champion. 9 out of 10.
Redcraze. Another Kiwi born champion. Redcraze deserves his high rating. If the Melbourne Cup was three feet longer he probably would have been an inaugural inductee into the Hall of Fame. He won 12 classic races 24 of his 32 wins were in races that are now Group One or Two. He was almost as good as Bernborough in his ability to carry weight and his record of 63kg in the Caulfield Cup will never be beaten. 9.5 out of 10.
The 1950s have finish up with a total of 43.5 out of 50.
So there we have it. The 1950s was the best decade of Australian racing. This is not much of a surprise. Tulloch, Todman, Redcraze, Hydrogen and Rising Fast are a super group of horse.
Redcraze, Vain and Might And Power all deserve their rating of 9.5 just behind the original Hall of Famers Tulloch, Kingston Town, Bernborough and Phar Lap. Black Caviar and Makybe Diva also probably deserve their 10 out of 10 mark.
The horses that got 9 out of 10; Rising Fast, Tobin Bronze, Ajax, Super Impose, Sunline and Manikato were all once in a generation champions that were not far from getting a 9.5. So that is it…
8th 1970s 38.5 out of 50
7th 1940s 39.5 out of 50
6th 1980s 40.5 out of 50
5th 2000s 41.5 out of 50
4th 1990s 42 out of 50 points
3rd 1930s 42 out of 50 points. Phar Lap wins the 1930s a higher spot on countback
2nd 1960s 42.5 out of 50
1st 1950s 43.5 out of 50
By Zeb Armstrong