Is it possible to determine Australia’s greatest ever racehorse? No, not really unfortunately. However here is a system that can come closer than ever before to determining Australia’s greatest ever horse.
We will have a look at the five original inductees of the Racing Hall of Fame plus Makybe Diva in our attempt to use this newly developed system to find our greatest ever horse.
Now it is important to mention that this exercise is an attempt to find Australia’s greatest ‘all-round’ horse. All-round means exactly that ‘all-round.’ This exercise does not take into account ability alone, nor does it take into account achievement alone. Ability and achievement are very important factors in bar room discussion but they are not the be all and end all of this exercise. For example, Redcraze and Rising Fast may not have had the best of ability but their achievements are second to none. On the other hand, Bernborough may have had more ability than any other horse ever, but he did not achieve the greatness that his ability promised. Outside factors can hurt each side of this ledger. Weight, injury and a management ban robbed Bernborough of achievements, while Redcraze was fit every year and as such could keep racking up the wins.
Here is the system. To be Australia’s greatest all-round horse, a Thoroughbred has to have…
– Won at both sprint distances up to 1600m and staying distances 2400m) and beyond.
– Won as a two-year-old against good company in spring or autumn Classics.
– Won three or more three-year-old Classics
– Won three or more major race as a three-year-old against open company
– Won two absolute spring / autumn Classics (Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate, Newmarket, Doncaster, Sydney Cup for example) at some stage during their careers.
– Won four or more spring / autumn Classics at WFA or set weights and penalties (Queen Elizabeth Stakes, All-Aged Stakes, Rawson Stakes, Mackinnon Stakes, Caulfield Stakes, Futurity are examples)
Here we go…
Carbine won the Champagne Stakes in New Zealand as a two-year-old.
He won many times over sprint distances and many times over staying distances.
Two Sydney Cups and one Melbourne Cup.
Many WFA classics.
Five wins as a three-year-old against open company.
But poor old Carbine did not win 3x three-year-old classics, so he just misses out. He was definitely the best horse of the 19th century, and maybe the best ever stayer. But he does not qualify for Australia’s greatest ever all-round horse based on this new system!
Phar Lap won at a mile and many times over 2400m or more.
The champ won the Rosehill Guineas, the AJC Derby and the VRC Derby. Three three-year-old classics.
10 wins as a three-year-old against open company. Massive tick.
Melbourne Cup and Cox Plate wins.
19 wins in spring / autumn classics.
But Phar Lap was a goat as a two year old! In his first four starts he failed to finish in the top eight in terrible two-year-old races. Then he broke through to win a maiden two-year-old race. But no classics! So surprisingly Phar Lap is not Australia’s greatest all-round horse.
It is with a very heavy heart that we have to rule Bernborough out almost immediately. He only qualifies in one category. Bernborough was banned from every track in Australia except Toowoomba until he was a six-year-old. He was forced to run around the Toowoomba track with huge weights for his first twenty starts. He was also weighted out of the Caulfield Cup and broke down before he got a chance in the Melbourne Cup. Tragedy!
The Diva did not have a start as a two-year-old and only really got good as a four-year-old and really really good as a seven-year-old. So with Wakeful, the Diva can be listed as our greatest ever staying mare, but she does not even get close to being Australia’s best all-round horse.
The King ticks all the distance related boxes many times over.
T. J Smith’s champ definitely won enough three-year-old classics (4 in all).
Kingston Town won the Tancred Stakes (now the BMW), the Sydney Cup and the Expressway Stakes as a three-year-old against quality opposition.
3 Cox Plates and a Sydney Cup more than ticks the absolute Classics box!
At least 10 Classic races over four consecutive season.
Oh so close for the King! But he did not win against good company as a two-year-old despite winning two races. But these races were not Classics. Almost for the King, almost.
Tulloch won many sprint races as a young horse and 15 races that were 2400m or longer.
Tulloch won 7 races as a two-year-old including the AJC Champagne Stakes where he defeated the immortal Todman.
It is fair to say that Tulloch was a great two-year-old, but it was a three that he really made his mark. 3x three-year-old classics is the pass mark for this exercise. Tulloch racked up a lazy 5.
10 wins against open company in his three-year-old year including the 1957 Caulfield Cup.
Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate wins plus a Brisbane Cup, more than ticks the absolute classics box.
And finally, Tulloch was lucky enough to win 25 other classic races.
There we have it folks; Tulloch is Australia’s greatest ever all-round racehorse according to this system new system. It is not surprising either; Tulloch beat Australia’s greatest ever two-year-old Todman in a race that is now a Group One. As a three-year-old he won everything there was to win including the Caulfield Cup in the fastest 2400m time ever recorded in the world at that time. He almost died as a four-year-old then come back for a few more preparations and was still devastating and almost impossible to beat.
Australia’s greatest four all-round horses…
4. Phar Lap
2. Kingston Town
By Zeb Armstrong