Which was the best Australian racehorse of all time?
The history of horse racing in Australia, which dates back to the late eighteenth century, is awash with superstar horses, not all of whom, necessarily, received the worldwide recognition they deserved. Attempting to identify the ‘best’ Australian racehorse of all time is likely to prove engrossing and exasperating in equal measure, but let’s start with a mare with a perfect 25-25 record, namely Black Caviar.
Trained in Victoria by Peter Moody, Black Caviar first rose to prominence in November, 2010, when, as a four-year-old, she outclassed a high-quality field in the Patinack Farm Classic, over 6 furlongs, at Flemington. The following February, dropped back to 5 furlongs, she impressively won the Coolmore Lightning Stakes – a race that she would win again in 2012 and 2013 – and, the following month, carried 9st 2lb to a comfortable, 3-length victory in the Lexus Handicap, over 6 furlongs, on the same course.
In 2012, Black Caviar was barely extended to win her first five starts, all at odds of 1/10 or shorter, but did experience a heart-stopping moment in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. With the race seemingly in safe keeping, jockey Luke Nolen dropped his hands prematurely, allowing Moonlight Cloud to close within a head, before pushing Black Caviar along again close home.
Unlike Black Caviar, the other Australian wondermare of recent years, Winx, was beaten six times in her 43-race career. However, in May, 2015, she embarked on a winning streak that would last four years and 33 consecutive races – 25 of which were at Group 1 level – until the end of her career in April, 2019. During that period, she won the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, the Chipping Norton Stakes at Royal Randwick and the George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill Gardens four times apiece. Indeed, in January, 2014, by which time she had won 13 consecutive races, Winx was awarded a rating of 132 by Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, which was – albeit much to the surprise of many observers – the same as that awarded to Black Caviar.
Other candidates for the best Australian racehorse of all time include, in no particular order, Makybe Diva, Phar Lap and Carbine, all of whom were prolific winners. Makybe Diva has the distinction of being the most successful horse in the history of the Melbourne Cup, having won ‘the race that stops the nation’ three years running in 2003, 2004, 2005. Phar Lap won 37 of his 51 races during the Great Depression, including a easy victory in the 1930 Melbourne Cup under 9st 13lb, while, longer ago, Carbine, a.k.a. ‘Old Jack’, won 33 of his 43 races and set a weight-carrying record, 10st 5lb, when winning the 1890 Melbourne Cup.