Horse racing is one of the most followed sports in Australia, and its popularity shows no sign of stopping. New fans are born into the sport every day with prestigious courses often attracting first-time Racegoers to their circuit. However, it takes a special horse to attract a whole nation of new visitors.
There have been a number of equine superstars throughout history that have been able to transcend the sport, with each of their races becoming unmissable occasions in their own right. But, who are some of the standout superstars in the history of Australian horse racing?
There are few more popular races on the international calendar than the Melbourne Cup, with the race having the ability to stop the entire nation, just as the Kentucky Derby does in the United States and the Grand National does in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The biggest superstar that we have seen emerge from this race is the lovable mare Makybe Diva.
She is the only horse to have won the Melbourne Cup on three occasions, and the only mare to have won the illustrious race on multiple occasions. Makybe Diva also became the highest stakes earner in history during her career, as she won more than A$14 million in prize money. As well as her dominant wins in the Melbourne Cup, she also won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2002, and the Sydney Cup and W.S. Cox Stakes in 2004 and 2005, respectively.
There have been few more celebrated horses in recent history than the great Winx. The Australian-trained horse won all 33 races that she contested throughout her career, with her career on the track consisting of four years. Over that period, she landed victories in 25 Group 1s, which is a world record that stands to this day.
However, it was her ability to win over a range of distances that made her extremely special. She was able to win over 6 ½ furlongs, and as far as eleven furlongs, making her a prominent favorite in the betting with Australian Casinos and sportsbooks. In 2018, she was co-ranked as the best horse in the world, and she was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2017, becoming just the second horse to achieve this award while still in training.
Throughout her career, she won just over A$26 million in prize money. Winx won the W.S. Cox Plate on four occasions and would claim three victories throughout her career in the Apollo Stakes, Warwick Stakes, and the George Main Stakes. She was named Australian Horse of the Year in four successive seasons.
Another modern-day great in the world of horse racing is Black Caviar. The mare made her debut on the track in 2008 and would go on to enjoy a dominant five-year career on track. She remained unbeaten throughout her career, winning on all 25 starts that she made. Overall, she collected Group 1 prizes on 15 occasions and was named the World’s Best Sprinter in each of the seasons between 2010 and 2013. She was trained by Peter Moody and was predominantly ridden by Luke Nolen throughout her career. In truth, the mare could have been even better than her record suggests, as reports claimed that she was never whipped once during her career.
Her first big win in stakes company came in the form of the Danehill Stakes in 2009, before she went on to land the Patinack Farm Classic, Australia Stakes, and Schweppes Stakes later in the year. In 2011, she landed victories in the Newmarket Stakes, Lightning Stakes, and the William Reid Stakes. The Lightning Stakes would be one of her most successful, as she landed the top prize on three occasions, including in her final campaign on track.
Stars That Could Make The List In The Future
Horse racing is a sport that is constantly changing, which means that records are always there to be broken. Therefore, it is likely as time progresses more and more legends of the game will be born. Nature Strip could be a horse many would rank among the best recent equine stars that we have seen on the track, as he won the Everest in 2021, and was named Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year in both 2020 and 2022.
Anamoe could be another star added to the list in the coming seasons, as the five-year-old has already won a number of prestigious Group 1s, including the Cox Plate, Winx Stakes, and the Caulfield Stakes.